Can You Increase Productivity in the Office Through Exercise?

Can You Increase Productivity in the Office Through Exercise?

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How to get your workers to be more productive? If you posed this question to someone from the 19th century, the answer would be simple: Get them to work 16 hours a day, that’s how you’ll make them more productive. But looking at this from the perspective of the 21st century laws and obligation, how can you increase productivity in the office through exercise?

Of course more work hours don’t translate into being more productive. Instead they can cause what’s now popularly being called – burnout, and productivity in the office will fall.

Before I dive deeper into this subject, let’s spend some time talking about a couple things that negatively affect your productivity.

Let’s begin!

The Most Common Health Problems That Affect Productivity

Can You Increase Productivity in the Office Through Exercise?

According to a study [1], published last year, the most common health problems that can negatively impact productivity are as follows:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Neck or shoulder pain
  3. Insufficient sleep
  4. Back pain
  5. Headache
  6. Cold and flu
  7. Anxiety
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Constipation

If you are a normal person (I’m not implying that you’re not), you’ve probably experienced one of these things (or more, at the same time), but still pushed through the discomfort of, let’s say back pain, and continued with your work (like an actual superhero!).

But what if I told you that through exercise you won’t ever have to deal with some alignments listed above (What? Really?)?

Now, I’m not talking about a cure-all. Unfortunately, some of the points on the list are here to stay.

There isn’t a sure-fire way to deal with anxiety, and you can’t stop diarrhea with exercise (in fact, doing heavy exercises can even cause you to have diarrhea).

It all comes down to training which increases the blood flow to your muscles, and leaves “less energy” to digest food, hence-diarrhea. This usually happens when people “go hard” in the gym with a full stomach (which is never recommended) [2]. 

Insufficient sleep is as well, another thing that would be hard to tackle with exercise. No amount of exercise will make your uncomfortable bed more comfortable or your loud neighbors less loud.

Regular exercise can help with all of these things, but in itself is not enough to prevent or stop them.

There are varying factors that must be included, before we can start talking about exercise as a part of the solution when dealing with anxiety or insomnia. What does that mean?

It’s simple, exercise is a great addition for dealing with those types of health problems, but is not a magic solution that will immediately fix everything.

Why did I say all of this (or wrote, to be more precise)? Well, because there are things, on the list above, that can be completely removed from it, just by exercising. You can reduce the list from 9, to 5 most common health problems that reduce productivity (9 to 5, like the most common work hours. Isn’t that something?).

And, you can reduce the risk of those 5 remaining things ever happening, by adding exercise to your schedule. So, what are the things on the list that you can directly combat with exercise?

The answer is fatigue, neck or shoulder pain, back pain, and constipation (yes, even constipation can be dealt with, through exercise).

How will that increase productivity?

The causation is not that difficult to explain. By removing physical pain or discomfort from your daily life, you’ll be able to focus more on your work and personal duties. This brings me neatly (like all of this is planned in advance) to my next point…

How will that increase productivity?

Can You Increase Productivity in the Office Through Exercise?

To explain this I will have to use some technical terms, so get ready to learn some new words!

What happens to your body when you exercise? Exercise encourages (or fuels) the production of new mitochondria in your cells (yeah, yeah, but what’s a mitochondria?). Mitochondria are (in the simplest of terms) parts of cells that are responsible for generating most of the energy that cells require to perform different tasks.

Mitochondria produce energy that is stored in a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (or ATP, for short) [3].

So, why is that important, and how does all of that connect to exercise?

It’s simple (no, really, it is). When you exercise your body produces new mitochondria. New mitochondria produce and store ATP, which is later used by your body’s cells as a source of energy.

What happens, literally, is that when you exercise you increase your body’s capacity to store energy which in turn gives you more energy to expend, thus making you more productive (or at least, increasing your potential to be more productive).

Now, add to that exercises that will help you deal with physical ailments (like back pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain), and you can easily see how exercising will improve your ability to be productive.

Work Performance and Exercise – How Do They Relate?

A study done in the early 2000s, where 683 workers were surveyed, had some interesting conclusions about this topic. It showed a significant correlation between moderate to vigorous physical activity and higher work performance.

What that means is that people who exercised were more likely to have a higher work performance (both in terms of quality and quantity of the work done).

Another thing they showed is that exercise is great at staving off fatigue (which is one of the most prominent reasons why employees take time off from work).

Benefits of Regular Exercise

Benefits of Regular Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise are plentiful (and probably too many to count). So, instead, I’ll focus on the benefits of exercise concerning your work (job performance, quality of work, and productivity).

1. Cognitive Benefits

Exercise is a great mood booster (this claim has been scientifically proven, numerous times).

It not only helps decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression but can also help in dealing with stress (which is, unfortunately, a part of our daily work life).

Exercise can also improve your memory and thinking skills. It can do that both directly and indirectly (as many studies have shown) [4]. 

Regular exercise increases the brain’s capacity (or volume) of the parts that are responsible for memory and thinking (it makes your brain bigger). And, by reducing stress or anxiety-related symptoms, exercise can indirectly improve your cognitive function (stress and anxiety are proven to impair one’s thinking).

I really don’t know what you are waiting for. START EXERCISING!

2. Lower Blood Pressure

How does blood pressure relate to your work and productivity? It all boils down to not having a heart attack (not having a heart attack is great for your work performance, or is it? It is…).

Regular exercise is a proven way to effectively combat high blood pressure. It does so by reducing the stiffness of your blood vessels (which lets blood flow more easily).

It also does wonders for cholesterol (exercise lowers it). And, lower cholesterol means less chances that your arteries will get clogged up and cause you to have a stroke (also bad for business).

3. Reduces Body Aches

Numerous studies done on this subject, suggest that exercise (mostly through increasing levels of serotonin and some opioid inhibitors) can actually reduce the feeling of pain [5]. 

Regular exercise uses our body’s natural response mechanisms to reduce the effectiveness of pain receptors (now isn’t that something?).

4. Improves Digestion

If you remember the beginning of the article, I briefly mentioned that exercise can aid in preventing constipation. Now, I’m gonna talk in more detail about it.

The process is called peristalsis and involves muscles of our digestive system “massaging food” until it’s processed and consumed by our body (and later expelled from it). How does exercise help with that? It makes this process faster and more efficient, meaning, you will digest food faster.

And what does faster digestion mean for your productivity at work? Your body will spend less time digesting food (and if you’ve ever eaten a heavy lunch you know how tired you feel afterward).

By decreasing the time of digestion you will be able to return to your “full productiveness levels” faster (after lunch or any meal you have during work hours). Some studies also suggest that exercise positively affects the bacteria in your gut (or your gut flora) [6]. 

5. Reduces Low Back Pain

Regular exercises (particularly Stretching exercises), have been proven to be extremely effective against lower back issues. Just 10-15 minutes of exercise a day can significantly help strengthen the muscles and bones of your lower back (that’s a good thing).

The strengthening of muscles will lower the amount of weight the spinal column has to carry by itself. What that basically means, is that part of your body weight will now be the responsibility of your muscles (instead of just your spine).

And that will reduce any pain or discomfort that’s related to your “back doing most of the work”.

6. Increases Energy Levels

I’ve already talked about this one, but I believe it deserves to be mentioned here, as well. Exercise will increase your energy levels, which will in turn allow you to have more energy to spend. You and your colleagues will be able to increase productivity in the office significantly, and get ready for some extra cash form those bonuses!

And if having more energy is not connected to being more productive then I’m the Pope! (I’m not the Pope).


How Much Should I Exercise per Day?

Most experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. These could include going for a short run, a walk, or doing some stretching exercises.

If you have a specific goal to achieve (like losing weight or gaining muscle) you might want to consider getting a specialized plan of exercise. The sort of “take a 30-minute walk”, won’t cut it if you want to bulk up.

Can I Exercise at My Desk?

For those of you asking “can I exercise at my desk”, the answer is – hell yeah! You most definitely can. There are numerous exercises on the Eudamonio platform that can be performed while sitting at a desk. Those exercises were designed by our Chief Physical Officer Dario, and they are great (no bias here!).

If you want to see some of them go check out our article about Stretching Exercises.

The Bottom Line

Including a regular exercise routine in your schedule can make a big impact on your work performance. It will not only help you stay sharp and focused at work but will allow you to keep that momentum going throughout your day without any neck or back pain, for instance.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it (I didn’t enjoy it at all).

Make sure to check out other articles on our blog, to get a fuller picture of how different exercises can increase your productivity as well as some insights into negative effects of sedentary life and how to combat them.

Have a Nice DAY!