Scientists have long spoken about the importance of diet and exercise for those of us that want to live a long and happy life. It even seems like as time goes on, science is proving more and more that good diet and exercise have almost limitless positive affects on our lives. Last week, a Duke researcher even proved that regular exercise is just as effective on depression as medication is! While it goes without saying that eating right and staying fit should have a direct impact on our health, I’ve been shocked at what a considerable impact a little bit of exercise has on my ability to maintain a high energy level on the job.
When I hit my mid twenties, I noticed for the first time that my physical world was starting to change. It’s the same old story that most of us go through at some point: I would eat less and still gain weight. I wasn’t bouncing back as fast from illness or a night out as easily. My body was telling me that I wasn’t a kid anymore. It was even beginning to affect my work.
I’ve never required a great amount of sleep, but as I've gotten older, the more prone I've become to listlessness at work at some point during the day. I tried sleeping more, to no avail. I even wondered if that was just the way I’d feel forever, if life really was just a slow downhill slide to the grave. Then I started to exercise.
It actually started out as a weight loss program, but long after I ended the diet, the regular workouts have remained a part of my weekly life. Within days of starting to exercise, I could feel a difference during my working hours. Not only was I back to my old energy levels, but I generally exceeded them. The amazing part to me was that I wasn’t participating in a comprehensive personal fitness program. I was just running a handful of miles per week and spending some time on the elliptical machine.
Over the years, I’ve figured out a bit more about what kind of activity level I personally need to keep energized throughout the day and even a few tricks to stay energized when time is limited. I can’t say I look forward to working out, but falling off the wagon every once in a while (often when I’m traveling a lot) is more than enough to remind me of the importance of exercise to my productivity. If I miss out on even a week of exercise, I lose about 30% of my steam during the day. When I finish up in the evening, all I want to do is relax and not work on other projects or even my hobbies. I don’t like feeling that way, so I inevitably head back to the gym to get back on track.
If you aren’t a regular exerciser, it may sound intimidating to think about making this change for your life, but it’s one you owe it to yourself to try. You don’t have to join a gym or even buy any expensive equipment. Just get moving. Walk the dogs, take a bike ride or even try 15 minutes of yoga in the morning before you head to the office. Whatever you choose, commit to 30 days of exercise and then compare your energy level throughout the day to what it was before. Not only will you be happier and healthier, you’ll get more done at your job and still have energy left over for your friends and family. All of that for just a few minutes a day of work. Now that’s a great return on investment!
Readers: what do you do to keep yourself physically primed for work?