Although you may think its counter intuitive, a regular fitness routine can make you more productive. In The Harvard Business Review, Russell Clayton nicely summarized the conflict that most of us experience. We often argue to ourselves, that we don’t have the time to start or maintain a fitness program. However, in their survey, they demonstrated that those who routinely exercise, find less conflict between work and home duties. So how could using your limited time to workout actually lead to a more productive schedule? It’s actually not very complicated.
First, exercise reduces stress. Yes, not very surprising, but also very important. When you allow yourself to “get away” at the gym, you can free your mind of the many stressors that you have accumulated during the day or get yourself focused as you head into the office. More precisely, routine exercise alters the way your body reacts to stress. After a day of emails, phone calls and traffic, your cortisol levels are through the roof. Yes, the infamous glucocorticoid that the body releases, as a reaction to your stressors, prepares you for the “fight or flight” response. But since we rarely need to fight or fly in our jobs, we tend to suffer from the side effects of cortisol such as its immunosuppression effects, inhibiting effects on insulin and even decreased libido. However, those who exercise regularly, have trained their bodies to decrease the amount of cortisol that’s released as a response to stress. (And lets face it, the endorphins are nice too)
Well, aside from all that physiology stuff, there is also the nice effect called self-efficacy. Self-efficacy simply refers to ones ability to act autonomously in achieving results. Your success in keeping to an exercise routine carries forward in both your work and home life. After developing one beneficial habit, it becomes easier to develop the next.
So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and go work out.