Have you ever wished you could stretch time? Or that you could pack more into every minute? I bet each of us has experienced that feeling when working on tight deadline or simply trying to get through the multitude of responsibilities we have. Although we can’t physically create time, we could use a simple trick backed by scientific research that will make us more productive, focused and happier.
Research has found that exercise has tremendous benefits, both in terms of productivity, memory, and mood. A study done by J.C. Coulson looked at the effect of exercise on the productivity of over 200 employees across three different organizations. The participants were monitored on self-reported productivity on the days they chose to exercise during work hours and on the days they did not exercise. Findings showed that people who exercised during the work hours reported that their concentration increased by a whopping 21%. They also reported a 41% increase in being motivated for work and 27% increase in better dealing with stressful situations in a calm manner. Almost 80% of participants reported that their interpersonal skills were better on the days they exercised. Being able to deal with stress, motivation and interpersonal skills are all vital part of successfully working and producing excellent results. Thus it is clear that exercising is a crucial tool for success. What is interesting though is that the study found that the key factor contributing to the positive change is the elevated mood. On those days when people exercised their mood was better, which in turn improved their performance, motivation and interpersonal skills.
In fact, there is a body of research that indicates that exercise is effective at elevating moods, and it is so powerful that it is also used to help combat long-term depression. An article by the American Physiological Association explained that the effects of exercise on mood are not only short-term but long-term. James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Duke University says that “there’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program.” Dr. Blumenthal also found that exercise was also in preventing depression relapse a year later. Thus we can see that exercise is a powerful tool to elevate our mood, which in turn helps us deal better with stressful situations, have better interpersonal skills and be more productive.
But that is not all! A very recent study found that exercise is also crucial in helping us process information better, which in this information heavy age, is very important. Researchers found that 20 minutes of daily mildly- intense exercise, the kind that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweaty, is linked to increased performance in tasks that require you to use past knowledge and synthesize it with new knowledge. This type of memory is called high-interference memory, which if it is good, allows us to synthesize old information with the new to make insights. This, of course, is crucial for academic performance or for any career or activity where innovation and the ability to connect ideas is important.
So the main takeaway is: exercise helps us to elevate our mood, improve our performance at work and has a positive effect on our cognitive abilities. Don’t forget to add it to your toolkit for a successful career!