Better body, check. Better health, check. Raise at work, maybe. Research suggests that regular excise can help you perform better at work. And you don’t have to have a physical job to reap in these benefits either. Here’s how being active and in shape can make you a better employee.
1. You’ll Take Fewer Sick Days
Body weight is a modifiable risk factor for illness and disease, meaning exercise and being active can help lower your risk for certain conditions. American Business Magazine reports: "Businesses experience billions of dollars in productivity losses each year from absence due to illness caused by obesity." It references a study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine that found that "83 percent of obese workers report they’ve developed at least one disease, compared to 75 percent of overweight workers and 69 percent of normal weight workers."
2. You’ll be More Creative
You might not think that working out could make you more imaginative, but research certainly does. The Huffington Post reports on a study that found that exercise offers improved divergent and convergent thinking, which scientists say make up creative reasoning. The researchers had two groups of subjects, those who trained at least four times a week and those who didn’t regularly exercise, and had them do a two-part written exam to test their cognition. The first group had better results. "Exercising on a regular basis may thus act as a cognitive enhancer promoting creativity in inexpensive and healthy ways," study researcher Lorenza Colzato, a cognitive psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in a statement.
3. You’ll have More Energy
It might seem counterintuitive that exercise, which requires energy, could help fight fatigue, but it’s true, according to the New York Times. The paper referenced a study from the University of Georgia. The subjects, who admitted to having issues with feeling rested, were prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or low-intensity aerobic exercise, three times a week for six weeks. (A non-exercising control group was used for comparison.) Both active groups expressed an increase in energy. But, interestingly, the low-intensity group was more statistically significant in fighting fatigue.
4. You’ll be Better at Solving Problems
Exercise also has immediate benefits with solving complex problems, says an article at psychcentral.com. How? The body gives the brain physical cues, which improves understanding and finding solutions. "In other words, by directing the way people move their bodies, we are – unbeknownst to them – directing the way they think about the problem," said University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, who’s study appeared in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, and is the first to show that a person’s ability to solve a problem can be influenced by how he or she moves. The study had subjects doing various movements before being tasked with a challenge. It’s all about "embodied cognition," which links the body to the mind.
5. You’ll Cope Better with Shift Work
A review study in the journal Sports Medicine reports that although working varying shifts can have negative effects on sleep patterns and regularly working out; finding the time to exercise can fix those issues by balancing energy levels through a changing schedule.
6. You’ll be a Better Team Player
There’s no denying that working out with a partner or playing a team sport doesn’t breed camaraderie, but Jon Gordon, team-building consultant and author of "The Energy Bus," and "Training Camp," tells livestrong.com that it’s more than just having pals to do stuff with. It’s about how we talk to each other after. Talking about our challenges and fears is part of storytelling, which improves communications skills and connecting.
7. Your Mind will be Sharper
Essentially you’re working out your mind too, suggests The American Council on Exercise. It describes how fitness "boosts brain cell (neuron) growth and strengthens cell-to-cell connections, essentially changing brain structure. It even protects neurons against age-related changes that can lead to cell death and dementia." In other words, you’re able to learn more, retain more and use your head more.
8. Your Work-life Balance will Improve
This makes sense: if your work-life gets better, then your home-life will too. Fast Company Magazine cites a study from Saint Leo University that surveyed professionals on how they balanced it all, and the results are impressive. "If you exercise regularly, you’re less likely to feel a conflict between your working life and your home life." You don’t take home any work stress, confidence improves, and "an hour of exercise creates a feeling that lasts well beyond that hour spent at the gym," said one subject.
9. You’ll be More Organized
Having to make time in your schedule for fitness means you’re on top of things more. That’s what hbr.org reported with a study from Leeds Metropolitan University. The researchers had more than 200 employees report how they managed their time on days when they worked out and on off days. "On days when employees visited the gym, their experience at work changed. They reported managing their time more effectively, being more productive, and having smoother interactions with their colleagues."
10. You’ll Feel Less Stress
Fitness has some very biological changes in the body, and not just in muscles. There are chemical changes in the brain when you physically exert yourself. According to Harvard University, "Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators."