Physical activity is very important for your health! Maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind is a great investment for your current and future well-being. Regular exercise improves respiratory health, cardiovascular health, and general health. This can have a profound impact on several areas in your life, including your career. How do the two connect? Well, exercise helps clear up “brain fog”, improving productivity and mental capacity. Exercise has been proven to help in managing stress, improve sleeping patterns, reduce the risk of major illnesses, help increase your brain function, and reduce workday absences.
The average South African spends 8 hours in their workplace, therefore some South Africans feel that they do not have enough time to fit physical activity into their routine. However, it is advisable to make exercise a priority in your life. Even the busiest among us still find a way to fit exercise into their schedule and this investment has major benefits. Below are 5 reasons why investing in physical activity will benefit your workplace performance.
Managing and Reducing Stress
Exercise in any form can help you reduce your stress because it stimulates the release of your feel-good hormones. When you exercise, endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, and they create a general feeling of well-being. Although this may be popularly known as the “runners high”, it also applies to different kinds of physical activity such as swimming, playing tennis, etc. When you are stressed, you are more prone to error, poor work performance, burnout, and conflict, therefore exercising and managing your stress levels will significantly improve your workplace performance.
Exercise helps to improve sleep, which is often hindered by stress, depression, and anxiety. So, managing your stress automatically improves your sleeping patterns. Another way that exercise helps improve sleep is that exercise tires you out. The more physically active you are, the more your body pushes you to sleep at night. Exercising outdoors has an added benefit because the natural light helps your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle.
Increasing Brain Function
When you exercise, the increased heart rate increases blood circulation increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This aids in the release of hormones that create an environment that is conducive to the growth of brain cells. Exercise also enhances neuroplasticity by encouraging the development of new connections between cells. Improved neuroplasticity enhances your cognitive abilities, increases your ability to learn new things, facilitates a speedy recovery from stroke or traumatic brain injuries, and boosts your overall brain fitness.
Helps Prevent Illness
As previously stated, exercise is extremely beneficial to your health, and it helps to prevent many types of illness such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, depression, anxiety, and dementia. Physical activity helps flush out all the bacteria in your lungs and airways, reducing your chances of getting flu, cold or other illnesses. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the mortality rate from chronic illness.
Reduces workday absences
The decreased risk of illness results in fewer sick days at work. Evidence from research has shown that physical activity effectively reduces sick absences. Being constantly absent impacts, your workplace performance because when you work less you are likely to be less productive and you leave a lot of work for your colleagues left behind which creates a ripple effect on you, your team, and management. The most common causes of long-term absenteeism are stress, sickness, mental ill-health, musculoskeletal injuries, and back pain. Decreasing the levels of absenteeism in a workplace improves productivity, increases the quality of work, mitigates financial loss, and improves morale.
Now that you know all the benefits of physical activity, it is time for you to go become more physically active. You may start with small steps such as walking for 30 minutes a day every day, thereafter you can start increasing the frequency and intensity of your physical activity.
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