Why Exercising and Productivity Go Hand in Hand

July 29, 2020

You’re sitting at your desk when suddenly you start getting antsy. You begin shifting around in your chair, stretching your legs underneath the table and desperately trying anything to take the focus away from your tight muscles and back to the deadline that looms over your head. You don’t want to get up because you don’t want to stop working, so you just continue stretching and clicking around on your computer until it’s an hour later and you realize you’ve gotten nothing done. Listen, we may not want to admit it, but we’ve all been there. 

In today’s work from home reality, we all find ourselves moving less and sitting more. Our favorite gyms are closed, our routine is thrown out the window, and we feel that we don’t have an excuse to stop working because our home has turned into our office space. 

Before I was sent home from college because of the pandemic I walked everywhere. I had no car and my dorm was at the bottom of an insanely large hill so, needless to say, my calf muscles and endurance were in tip-top shape. When I returned home, I was shocked by how little I was moving, especially since so much of my physical activity had been a part of my day-to-day routine at school. 

I began a disciplined workout routine, adjusting from having a state-of-the-art gym facility (Barnes Center: I miss you with all my heart) to my living room. I’m lucky enough to have a Peloton (yes I’m one of THOSE people) and the empowering spin classes kept my spirits in check during a time of intense uncertainty. But once I began my amazing internship at Brilliant Ink I was faced with the challenge that many in the workforce are struggling with now: How do I make time to be active when I’m working from home and could be theoretically working all the time? 

So many of us assume that now that we are working from home we don’t have an excuse to take breaks and focus on ourselves. We assume that productivity is tied to how long we are stuck to our desks, hour after hour, day after day. I see it differently. To me, exercise breaks — whether it’s a walk around my neighborhood or a grueling Peloton class — keep me motivated and productive in my work. 

I believe we have a unique opportunity when we work from home, that we are actually less tied down to our desks. This is because we have the freedom to do our work on our time in our own space. Yes, there are meetings and deadlines and timeframes which enable organizations to work together and finish projects, but (for most of us) we are not scheduled every minute of the 9-to-5 workday every single day, meaning that we don’t have to adhere to its rules. 

And I’m not just a workout-obsessed college student trying to convince you to get a Peloton (although you probably should). According to the Harvard Business Review, incorporating regular exercise into your day-to-day routine improves concentration, enhances creativity and elevates your mood, which greatly impacts workplace performance. Studies actually show that taking exercise breaks during the workday can improve your overall performance. People are legitimately busy, admits HBR, but they clarify that “what we really mean when we say we don’t have time for an activity is that we don’t consider it a priority given the time we have available.”

Here are some ways to be active in between meetings: 

  • Take a walk down your street or around your neighborhood (bonus points if you bring your furry friend or kiddo!)
  • If you have a Peloton invest in a 10, 20, or 30 minute class (i suggest Kendall Toole or Ally Love
  • Go for a scenic bike ride to get your creative juices flowing! 
  • Take a hike on a local nature trail
  • Dance it out with the Boss Family workout (they’re great for kids too!)
  • Treat yourself to some restorative yoga 
  • Challenge yourself with a core workout
  • You can even stretch out at your desk
  • And if all else fails … Take a nice stroll over to your fridge!

By investing your time in getting active and exercising, you are actually investing time into being more productive, being in a better mood, and being more engaged in your work. It’s time we stop looking at exercise as a distraction and start looking at it as a part of our working day. So the next time you can’t focus or your legs are cramping up, try an exercise that you love instead of wasting an unproductive hour. You won’t regret it. 

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