By now, we are all familiar with the physical health benefits of exercise. But have you ever considered the fact that you can boost your career with exercise? It’s very possible and a common tool used by CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
So, how is it that you can boost your career with exercise? By increasing blood flow to the brain as well as stimulating and growing cells, exercise can help you stay sharp and focused. Mental tasks will become less difficult and your ability to concentrate will grow. Think about these specific things that are required in any career:
- Planning: A single bout of exercise can positively impact planning efficiency, immediately after an exercise session (1). Success at work requires planning in order to be organized, efficient, and effective.
- Scheduling and Coordination: In our fast paced, global work environment, we have to be able to schedule and coordinate people, places, and events. Exercise can help us juggle and connect these things.
- Problem Solving: Innovation can solve problems and exercise helps with creativity and the free-flow of ideas. Trying to solve a difficult problem? Go for a walk. (2)
- Memory: Exercise increases cortical excitability and this in turn leads to enhanced memory consolidation. (3) Memory consolidation is the process where our brains convert short-term memories into long-term ones. If you need to remember important people and responsibilities at work, you need to sharpen your memory. Stress and sleep can negatively impact our memory and exercise can help offset this. (So can stress management and sleep!)
- Socialization: If you are seeking a leadership role in your career, it is important to have strong interpersonal skills. Exercise and physical activity promote socialization and the opportunity to work on those very important interpersonal skills. (4) Whether it’s a running club, a golf outing, or an after work softball game, this environment presents the opportunity to improve your interpersonal skills and make connections with coworkers.
- Work-Life Balance: Work can be stressful and exercise is a great way to manage that stress and create some balance in life. Carving just a little time out for yourself each day is important for self-care. Exercise can also help boost your energy and mood as you head into the office or return home for the day.
1. Chen, F. (2013). Effects of Acute Exercise on Immediate and Sustained Time in Planning of Related Executive Function: A Preliminary Study. Sports & Exercise Research,15(1), 29-39. doi:10.5297/ser.1501.004
2. Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition,40(4), 1142-1152. doi:10.1037/a0036577
3. Robertson, E. M., & Takacs, A. (2017). Exercising Control Over Memory Consolidation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,21(5), 310-312. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2017.03.001
4. Wankel, L. M., & Berger, B. G. (1990). The Psychological and Social Benefits of Sport and Physical Activity. Journal of Leisure Research,22(2), 167-182. doi:10.1080/00222216.1990.11969823