Do you want to be more productive at work? Take some time out of your work day and exercise.

Do you want to be more productive at work?  Take some time out of your work day and exercise.

I understand that taking time out seems counter intuitive, but if you exercise during that time, studies have shown your productivity will go up. Instead of sitting down for a morning coffee break, go take a walk. During your lunch hour, take an aerobics class.  What type of exercise you do is not as important as that you do exercise.

When you exercise your body releases brain cell builders (BDNF), which increases your capacity to think after you are done exercising. The ability to think clearer happens after you are done exercising, so if you are stuck on a task, go take a quick lap around the building and then come back to your work and see how much better you feel about it.

A study done in Britain by Jim McKenna, professor of physical activity and health at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK showed workers who took 30-60 minutes at lunch to workout said their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on days they exercised. The data also showed their overall performance boost was about 15 percent. The workers also went home feeling good about their day at work.

In another study, factory workers, who were led in a daily supervised 10-minute stretching program, showed a significant improvement in joint flexibility, fatigue, anger, depression and overall mood.  

Not only will exercise help you to think more clearly, it will improve your mood and help relive anxiety.

When you exercise, your brain releases a neuro-transmitter called serotonin that helps to improve your mood and helps with handling stress.  When you are able to handle stress on the job, it makes you a more valuable employee and a better co-worker. In addition to improving your mood exercise increases your self-efficacy, so you believe you can accomplish the tasks set before you. With the added benefit of mental health, it is a no brainer to start exercising throughout the work day.

Regular exercisers also have a reduced risk of developing certain illness and diseases, which in turn causes fewer sick days from work. Increasing your immune system helps with not getting hit quite as hard with the flu or colds if you do happen to get one.  With fewer sick days from work, you can get more accomplished.

Exercise also increases your energy. With an increase in energy, you will be more alert throughout the day and get more accomplished.

“It’s the paradox of exercise,” McKenna said, “to get energy you have to expend some.”  

Being more alert during the day will make sure you are at the top of your game.    

Candace Davidson is the wellness director for the McPherson Family YMCA. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and is an AFAA certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.