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By now, we all have an idea about the effect of exercise on general health and the various systems governing our bodily functions (cardiovascular, respiratory…). One less known benefit of physical activity is its ability to improve our mental (cognitive) functions. In this article, we highlight the specific benefits of exercise that are related to improved work productivity and valuable tips on how to maximize the efficiency of exercise to improve productivity and boost your energy, without leaving you drained and fatigued to work after your training session.

How Does Exercise Improve Productivity and Work Performance?

When you exercise, you induce a stress on your body. Your body detects this stress and raises a state of alarm, releasing neurotransmitters and hormones (such as adrenaline, endorphins…), which in turn stimulate all the relevant systems to work harder in order to overcome this stress. This means that the muscles will contract harder and/or faster to overcome the resistance you’re working against, your lungs and respiratory system will breathe more in order to provide more oxygen which will be used to produce the energy required for all systems to work harder, and your heart will beat stronger and faster to pump more blood to the muscles and other engaged systems. When you repeat this stress frequently enough (around 3 times per week is considered effective enough), your body automatically increases its capacity to fight this stress so that it won’t be as fatiguing. This is a natural reaction of our bodies to maintain a resting, neutral state, referred medically as homeostasis.

How Does This Translate to Productivity?

This means that after only a few weeks of training (guidelines mentioned below), your body will adapt to the exercise-induced stress, which will reflect in:

  • Increased energy capacity and tolerance against stress and fatigue
  • Increased breathing capacity
  • Increased ability to utilize energy necessary to function
  • Improved blood flow across organs
  • Reduced stress, in turn reducing anxiety
  • Improved brain function by keeping glucose and oxygen levels high, thus feeding the brain at all times
  • Reduced risk of musculoskeletal pain, injury, and work-related disability

The mentioned benefits of exercise are indirectly and directly related to improved work productivity, but it should be noted that there are numerous other benefits pertaining to general health and wellbeing which are extensively documented in the Physical Activity Guidelines (2018) issued by the U.S Department of Health.
Some of these benefits are also experienced directly after exercising, such as elevated mood (due to the release of endorphins), work performance for white collar workers, and even employee tolerance and resilience.  

How Should I Train to Improve My Productivity?

Any type of exercise, when performed consistently while progressively increasing its intensity, can provide the general health benefits of exercise. However, if your goal is to improve your focus, attention and general mood during the day, it would be preferable to follow the practical guidelines mentioned in Table 1. The most specific factors worth highlighting are:

  1. Do this workout before your work shift to reap the instant benefits of exercise pertaining to increased productivity. 30 minutes are enough to get all the benefits of increased attention and improved focus and mood.
  2. Focus on training with a low to moderate intensity, one that you doesn’t run you out of breath and allows you to maintain a conversation while exercising. This is an easy intensity test you can do on yourself to know if you’re exercising in a moderate or high intensity; if you can’t maintain a conversation for more than 5 seconds without running out of breath, then you are probably training at a relatively high intensity. You can always try that on your own by reciting a song or anthem to yourself and gauge your intensity accordingly.

Table 2 and the following workout routine represent an example of how these guidelines can be applied.

Frequency Intensity Time Type
3 to 5 times per week If cardio: low to moderate i.e. an exercise or difficulty that you can maintain a conversation while performing

If resistance training: moderate resistance that can be performed for more than 10 reps without reaching failure
30min-1hr depending on your fitness level i.e. how much you can sustain, preferably done before work
 
No need to rest in cardio training unless intensity was too high, then reduce intensity for 1-2 minutes before picking it up at a comfortable pace.
 
Rest 1-2 minutes between sets of resistance training
For cardio: low impact cardio (running, elliptical, cycling…)
 
For resistance training: free weights or machines (if you struggle with the form when lifting with free weights)
Table 1 Exercise parameters for adults to improve productivity
Frequency Intensity Time Type
3 times per week Treadmill: 10km/hour
 
Elliptical: level 1-2
 
Stationary bike: minor resistance (differs between bikes)
 
Resistance training: 4 exercises, each targeting a different muscle group and done for 2 sets of 12 reps (ex: chest press, leg press, back row, glute bridges)
30 minutes per session
 
No need to rest while doing cardio training unless intensity was too high, then reduce intensity for 1-2 minutes before picking up at a comfortable pace.

Rest 1-2 minutes between sets of resistance training
For cardio: running, cycling, and elliptical training
 
For resistance: free weights and machines
Table 2 Example of a workout routine for a beginner-intermediate level trainee

Example of one workout week:

Sunday: 15 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on stationary bike

Tuesday: 30 minutes bodyweight resistance training (can be done from home): bodyweight squats, knee push-ups, glute bridges, crunches

Thursday: 30 minutes running/fast-walking outdoors or on a treadmill.

How Can WellFit Virtual Club Help You With Your Workout?

The benefit of exercise for productivity has been clearly established in the scientific literature and explained in this article. The remaining challenge lies in applying it; morning workouts are not the easiest thing to do, especially if you have a family and children to take care of. This is why we created the WellFit Virtual Club, where we designed the perfect 30-minute morning, live and group-online workouts to boost your mind and body. We designed three different types of classes that we believe can address all audiences:

  1. Day Booster Workout: this workout is designed to get you in the right mood to conquer your workday. With the proper and careful selection of music and exercise sequence, our day booster workout will warm up your joints and muscles with light intensity exercises before gradually increasing the intensity to elevate your heart rate. It also wakes your whole body and mind up and energizes you for a highly productive and satisfying day without leaving you drained and energy-depleted.
  2. Light Wellness Workout: this workout is tailored to get your joints moving freely and your muscles strong for your daily challenges. The light-wellness workout is a sweat-free workout that doesn’t need any equipment, and it channels your energy towards a productive workday. This workout is especially efficient for people with little to no exercise history who spend most of their day inactive and want to engage in light-intensity activities.
  3. Yoga Sessions: this session is for those who want to exercise the body and the mind in a stress-free, relaxing environment. Practicing yoga is proven to improve flexibility, balance, and muscle endurance and strength needed for performing daily tasks, and it can also alleviate musculoskeletal pain and discomfort.

If you are already exercising, you can still benefit from these workouts to improve your mood, motivation, and focus throughout the day without having to change anything to your current training program, since the workouts provided by the WellFit Virtual Club are maintained within a level of intensity that won’t require recovery on your own.

How to join Wellfit virtual club

To provide you with an easy and a user-friendly experience, we collaborated with IN2 app, available on the Play Store and App Store for free, to provide our workouts. You can book your monthly membership and access our online sessions which will be provided on Zoom through the app and enjoy a successful morning workout given by our qualified group instructors, that will boost your mind and body throughout the day!
Contact us at info@wellfitconsultancy.com to know more about our corporate discounts and how we can customize our program to meet your demands!