How Exercise Can Improve Your Productivity

How Exercise Can Improve Your Productivity


Everyone knows that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can sometimes feel hard to fit it in. If that’s the case for you, I have some good news!

In many different tests, and across many different audience types – exercise has been shown to dramatically increase productivity in multiple ways. Which means if you’re having a busy day and feel like you don’t have time to work out – think again. Anything between 20 mins and an hour of exercise is actually more likely to help you tick everything off your to do list!

Not convinced? Here’s a list of the ways exercise can improve your day to day productivity.

Exercise increases your energy

It feels a bit counter-intuitive – shouldn’t doing exercise use up your energy? According to the results of a randomised trial held at the University of Georgia, low, medium and high intensity workouts all result in feeling more energised. Even better – those in the low intensity group of participants reported higher energy levels than those in the medium and high intensity groups! Which means a walk, a bike ride, yoga, swimming or moderate strength training should increase your energy levels just as much as a 10k run!

The science behind this is pretty straightforward. Exercise increases your body’s ability to spread glucose and oxygen around your body (and your brain) – and this will continue to happen for a good few hours after you’ve exercised.

Exercise improves your brain

We’ve all had days where our brain just doesn’t feel up to the task at hand. That means it inevitably takes longer to get things done, which in turn – obviously – decreases your productivity. Regular exercise has been shown to increase brain function, which means those days become fewer and further apart.

According to the writer of Brain Rules (an award-winning book that explores how the brain influences the way we work), people who are physically active score better on cognitive tests than people who are sedentary most of the time. Scientists at the Body-Brain Performance Institute came to the same conclusion in their research: results showed a clear link between physical fitness, brain function and reduced stress levels at work.

Exercise makes your memory better

Being able to hold a lot of information in our memories, which we are able to access quickly and accurately, is a huge booster to productivity: less time staring out the window trying to remember stuff, or trawling through notes – and more time just getting the work done.

In an experiment on students, participants were given a list of letters to remember. They were then invited to run, do some strength training or to sit quietly. Those who chose running were then faster and more accurate than the other two groups when they were asked to recall the list of letters.

Exercise increases creativity

Creativity is often an important part of productivity. Maybe you need to be able to come up with solutions to problems as quickly as possible. Or perhaps you have a job that demands creative production on tap – such as a writer or designer.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that walking – either indoors or out – led to a huge burst in creative thinking, with the average creative output rising 60 percent! A huge increase, just from taking a quick stroll up and down the stairs, or around the block. So next time you’re facing a creative challenge, instead of sitting and staring at your screen waiting for a solution to fall into your brain, take yourself for a quick walk and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find that solution somewhere along the way.

Exercise improves your willpower

One of the biggest drains on our day-to-day productivity is the time we waste on meaningless distractions – like browsing the web, chatting to friends on-line or preparing an unnecessary snack. The good news is, exercise is like a booster pack for your willpower.

That’s because exercise triggers lots of endorphins, which are an important ingredient in how our brain prioritises functions. That means, after you exercise and have all those lovely endorphins rushing around your brain, you’ll be much more capable of sorting out what’s most important in your day – and then sticking to the task at the top of your list.

So no more excuses! Exercise makes your brain faster, happier, more focused and more creative! And just in case you need another justification, remember the saying ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person’. By adding exercise to your daily routine, you’re making your day even busier – which means you can fit even more in!

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