Physical Exercise to Maximize Your Performance at Work

Ever since I was a kid, my mom and dad always encouraged me to try every sport possible until I found what I loved. The truth is I never found ‘one sport’ that I enjoyed the most but I did end  up taking pleasure in every type of physical activity. From team sports such as football (soccer) to more individual sports like tennis, I have been fortunate enough to try many different typologies and compete at a high level in some of them.

Sport has taught me discipline, tenacity, resilience, emotional control, etc. I remember competing in regional tennis tournaments back in Spain and breaking the tennis racket because I wasn’t able to control a game against a less experienced opponent. When it comes to sport, mind control plays the biggest role, but athletes and other sport lovers often rely on talent in the road to success. Studies such as the one of Carol Dweck (2006) state that athlete performance is strongly linked to his or her mindset towards learning and success. 

From my perception living in Cambodia for the past four years, it is great to see how sport is becoming more and more popular for people of every age group. Regardless if you are an athlete or not, exercising on a regular basis has a positive impact on your mindset and general health, and can therefore help you improve your performance at work too. Why?

  1. Better mood
  • When you are exercising, you are increasing the blood flow to the brain, and this is positively correlated with a better awareness perception. Moreover, exercising helps produce serotonin and endorphins that are causes of a better mood. Also, a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF – Link to article from the American Council on Exercise) is generated whilst performing a workout, it promotes cognitive health in areas such as memory, learning and depressive illness (Ratey, 2008). You probably have a job that requires sharpness to create ideas, implement projects, etc. Well, exercise is for you! 

I often hear a lot of excuses such as ‘I don’t have enough time to exercise’ or ‘I prefer to use that time to rest more’. If you don’t have enough time to do a complete gym/sport session, just try making small changes in your routine that can help you reach attainable goals, such as using the stairs, biking to work or doing some mild exercises in the office/workspace area

  1. Lower risk of being sick
  • If you exercise regularly (running, hiit, biking), your risk of developing a disease will decrease. By boosting your immune system through exercise, you will minimize your chances of being sick and this increases your overall productivity.
  1. Overall mental health improvements
  • As mentioned above, a good workout routine helps you release serotonin, this helps you improve your general mood and mental health. Your anxiety and stress levels at works can be more manageable if you introduce physical activity in your life equation. According to a study of 1.2 million people in the USA by the Lancet Psychiatry, 2018, team sports, cycling, aerobics and going to the gym are associated with a smaller amount of days living with poor mental health.

When you are able to deal with stress and anxiety with a constructive approach, you will probably have a better attitude towards teamwork and communication with everyone at the workplace, a key to professional success. It is all about your life (and, in consequence, other people’s lives, better!

If you want more information or advice regarding this topic, feel free to contact me:

Borja Barreras

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