Being physically fit, as I hope you already know, isn’t just important to your physical health — it strengthens your immune system and fights off serious health alignments like heart disease. It’s also beneficial to your mental health being improving your mood. That’s why I make fitness a top priority by eating healthy, running, and visiting my favorite gym RISE Fitness + Adventure in Rehoboth.
However, being fit can also boost your productivity — which, to be honest, is a daily struggle for us working moms.
If you’re not convinced, here’s what the research has to say in regards to the correlation between fitness and productivity.
Exercise strengthens your brain.
When you exercise you’re not just working your body’s muscles. You’re also helping out the grey matter in your brain. Without getting too scientific here, grey matter is where your brain processes information and stores memories.
As reported in the Harvard Health Blog;
“In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.”
Research from Germany also found that while learning a new language exercises like cycling and walking helped study participants retain the new vocabulary.
Additionally, research shows that aerobics-style exercise can help your focus and stay on task.
And, if that weren’t enough, staying physically fit can slow cognitive decline. In fact, exercise can even delay onset dementia.
Exercise makes you happier.
According to an experiment from British economist George MacKerron, exercise makes people happy. Besides sex, MacKerron found that exercising or playing sports is what makes people happiest.
If you’ve ever finished working out this shouldn’t come as a surprise. You feel great because you just released endorphins.
But, how does this make you more productive?
Well, when you’re happier you’re more productive.
Think about that for a second. When you’re not in the best mood, it’s difficult to find the energy and motivation to focus on what’s important. You’d rather curl-up on the couch all day or waste time watching YouTube videos instead of crossing off items on your to-do-list. Also, it’s a challenge to stay focused when you have a million negative thoughts going through your mind.
When you feel great, you have the drive to get things done and are clear headed enough to not get bogged down by the negativity around you.
Exercising gives you more energy.
When you exercise you’re increasing blood pressure and blood flow throughout your body. When there’s more blood flowing your body the more energy you have because you’re transferring more glucose and oxygen.
That’s why I go for a run every morning. All that blood flow gives me the energy to make it through the day, both as a mom and business owner, without dragging my feet and having to rely on too much caffeine.
Exercise improves creative thinking.
We all have moments when we hit a wall — whether if it’s at work or coming up with creative school projects with your kids.
One of the easiest ways to reignite your creativity is by walking.
A study from Stanford University shows that walking, whether indoors or outdoors, can boosts creative inspiration. In fact, the study reports that creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking!
This is because even walking gets the blood flowing and helps clear our minds. After returning from a short walk, we have the energy and focus to tackle it head-on.
Exercise can help you achieve work-life balance.
If you’re struggling with work-life balance, then regular exercise may be the solution.
As discussed in the Harvard Business Review, those created and followed a regular exercise routine experienced less conflict in regards to work-life balance.
For starters, exercise reduces stress. When we weren’t as stressed-out, we’re able to focus on the task at hand.
Secondly, exercise helps with work-home integration because of increased self-efficacy. “The term refers to the sense that one is capable of taking things on and getting them done – and although self-efficacy is a matter of self-perception, it has real impact on reality.”
As explained in the HBR article;
“According to psychologist Albert Bandura, people with high self-efficacy are less likely to avoid difficult tasks or situations, and more likely to see them as challenges to be mastered. Our research suggests that people who exercise regularly enjoy greater self-efficacy, and it carries over into their work and home roles.”
Fitting exercise in your busy schedule.
But, Dr. Elder, I don’t have time to exercise.
I hear you!
Balancing motherhood and a career is no easy task. But, here a couple of ways that you can get started today.
- Start small. You don’t need to join a gym and exercise for an hour a day. Start with small goals, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the furthest spot from the front door.
- Set a timer. Most people can focus on a task for no longer than an hour. So, set a timer where you stand-up and walk around the office every 60 minutes or so.
- Have fun! Find an exercise or sport that you actually enjoy. You’ll be more likely to follow through if you’re doing a physical activity you like.
- Find an exercise buddy. This makes the physical activity more fun. But, more importantly, they’ll be your biggest cheerleader and will hold you accountable. For me, this is my spouse. However, it could be a friend or co-worker. You could even get your kids involved by going for a family work together at dinner or playing together.
- Schedule your exercise. By exercising at the same time daily will help make it a habit. And, by marking it in your calendar, you’ll be less likely to face conflicts. For example, if you always go to the gym in the morning, then you won’t schedule anything else during that time.
- Keep it short. When it comes to productivity, you’re better-off doing short bursts of activity throughout the day, as opposed to lengthy and strenuous exercises. This gives you the energy to stay focused all day. It’s also easier to incorporate into your schedule.
If you’re still struggling with fitting exercise into your daily schedule, here are six exercises that any busy mom can do every day;