Regular physical activity today has benefits at work tomorrow

If you work in healthcare, you know that the worst patients are often us! It’s a typical “shoemaker’s children” story, where we dole out helpful advice to those we care for, but when it comes to our own health and well being, we figure we don’t have time for that (even when we know it works)!

In addition to the more known benefits of exercise, like preventing and managing diseases, improving overall physical and mental well-being, and ensuring healthy growth and development, regular physical activity can sharpen our cognitive capacity and result in being better on the job.

Whether you are feeling like you could use a bump of energy for your daily well being, or you’re looking to take your work performance to the next level, exercise will help! 

Let’s check in

Are you excited about this, or are you rolling your eyes at yet another unsolicited reason to get moving? To ease any overwhelm you may be feeling, we’ll say this:

  • Some exercise is better than none
  • Any kind of moderate exercise can improve your quality of sleep and lead to cognitive benefits the next day
  • Take baby steps if you have to
  • Just start

You get the idea. 

Still not convinced?

Seeing this list of benefits should make most people question why we don’t all jump at the daily opportunity to move it and shake it.

  • You will sleep better 
  • You will feel better
  • You will have more energy
  • You will be better able to focus on tasks
  • Your stress will lessen
  • You will be better able to regulate your emotions
  • Aches and pains will lessen (you’ll learn to love muscle soreness!)
  • You’ll have more positive thoughts (your inner voice will be kinder)
  • You will perform better at work … tomorrow (recent research cited by Harvard Business Review finds time-lagged benefits of physical activity on next-day task performance, creativity, and health symptoms. Across two studies, it was consistently found that employees’ daily physical activity throughout the day contributes to next-day job performance and health outcomes.

I want to improve my work performance; how do I start?

Whether you’re excited to get started or feel like you don’t possibly have the energy to start, know that it’s entirely possible to make exercise realistic and fun, and getting a sweat on will actually give you energy and help you sleep (you know this!). Consider these tips for making exercise a regular part of your life:

  • Find a time of day that you can set aside when you won’t be interrupted and distracted. Is it early in the morning, late in the evening, or in the middle of the day? Experiment and find the best time for you.
  • Invite a friend, family member, or co-worker to join you. There’s nothing like having a partner to motivate you to show up and kick your butt into moving. 
  • Try out different forms of exercise; there are public classes of all types (yoga, pilates, boot camp, kickboxing, tabata, dancing … the list is endless)
  • Check out the plethora of online exercise videos; lots are free!
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience all of these benefits immediately, or if you find it difficult to motivate yourself to move; building habits and seeing the results of those habits takes time. Focus on forming healthy new habits and results will come in time.
  • You don’t have to over do it. Even short periods of physical activity (even 20 minutes a day) are sufficient to contribute to next-day performance and health.

Whatever you decide to try, make it fun. You’ll be far more likely to stick with it and be excited about it.

More about the next-day benefits of exercise on work performance.


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