When gyms closed down mid-March, we all began to experiment with creative ways to stay active within the confines of our home and resources available to us (such as running and biking paths). But, inevitably, as the gyms have continued to stay closed for several more months, it’s far easier to just nix ‘working out’ from the daily regimen within the work day, since it can be difficult to keep up with an at-home workout routine. This is especially challenging for those who would usually sign up for workout classes, and who thrived on working out around others and having a pre-planned time to be at the gym. I, for example, have always done CrossFit, and without access to the CrossFit gym and my community there, I have to improvise on my own.
Improvising is challenging at times, but there are so many benefits to getting your blood flowing that can actually contribute to your productivity. Here are a few reasons why it’s incredibly important for your productivity to make sure you’re staying on top of your workout regimen while you work from home.
- It makes you more focused.
Working from home can make us more privy to distractions: not just the kids or pets, but simply because we’re in our most comfortable environment. So, if we can’t get focused with work one afternoon, it’s far too easy to turn on the television or start that new paint project in the garage. Exercising has been found to increase focus and attention, so when you get on a task, you stay on it.
Karen Postal Ph.D. explained that “Following a half hour of strenuous exercise, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex works harder to resist distracters and performance on tests of attention improves. Studies also show that immediately following exercise, problem solving, memory, and attention improve.” Imagine how that enhanced focus could skyrocket your productivity day after day.
- It makes it easier to think on your feet.
No matter what industry you’re in, we can all benefit from thinking on our feet and being creative. I’m in sales, specifically, and I’ve found that working out helps me to get into an optimal headspace to think quickly when I’m on sales calls. This isn’t just something I’ve observed — it’s something that’s been studied.
An article from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience stated that a link was found between exercise and creative thinking. This depended on the individual and the exercise completed (including the length of time exercising and the intensity), but it makes sense: if we have greater focus and concentration from getting our blood pumping, we can follow a creative thought more closely.
- It reduces brain fog and bumps up mental clarity.
You may also find that what enhances creativity and focus is the mental clarity that’s awarded from exercise. There’s nothing worse than feeling like something is on the tip of your tongue or lacking clarity on what to say, write, or do. Of course, this brain fog is usually subtle, and we blame it on a night of bad sleep or a lack of coffee. But exercise can really knock it out — simply because of the amount of blood flow and oxygen that goes to the brain (and the entire body) when we work out.
An article from Scientific American stated, “Another explanation for why working up a sweat enhances our mental capacity is that the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for learning and memory, is highly active during exercise. When the neurons in this structure rev up, research shows that our cognitive function improves.”
So, while it may seem easier to stay at your desk all the live-long day and let your workout regimen fall by the wayside until gyms reopen, think again: the secret to a productive day of work lies in taking the time to get your blood pumping! Your brain will thank you.