Any activity that requires physical exertion and raises the body's pulse is considered exercise. The human body has a complex, physiological response to regular (at least 30 minutes per day) exercise which leads to vast improvements in overall health, mood and – surprise! – productivity.
One study revealed a 15% productivity increase on days when employees exercised during lunch breaks. Another reported 21% improvement in concentration in employees who exercised. In addition, exercise prompts the release of stress-busting endorphins, which means regular exercise also creates happier employees, potentially improving workplace morale and intra-office relationships.
How Does Exercise Increase Productivity? One Answer: Improved Posture
Exercise improves productivity in lots of ways, including reduced stress, increased energy levels and better health. Exercise can also improve posture, which directly affects concentration and comfort.
Poor posture causes pain and hinders circulation (i.e. the flow of oxygen to the brain). In order to maintain healthy posture, the body requires that certain muscle groups be strengthened and others be more flexible. Unfortunately, most contemporary jobs require long hours seated and cause the wrong muscle groups to weaken and tighten. This leads to poor posture and the problems that go along with it.
"Deskercise" for Better Posture
When exercising to improve posture, strengthen core muscles from the pelvis to the neck with desk-friendly moves like these:
- Bicycle Chair Crunch - Sit with feet flat on floor, hands behind head and squeeze shoulder blades together. Lift one knee towards your body and twist, touching your knee with the opposite elbow. Do fifteen bicycle crunches per side.
- Twists - Best performed on a swivel chair, place feet flat on floor and hold the edge of your desk. Use your abdominal muscles to twist your body from side to side. Do 15 to 20 full twists.
- Leg Lifts - This move is so stealthy, it can be done during meetings. Sit upright with a tight core and lift each leg. Alternate or challenge yourself, lifting both at the same time. Repeat 20 times.
- Neck Rolls - Release muscle tension in your neck and shoulders by slowly tilting head to each side and forward. Hold until you feel tension ease.
- Rear Pulses - Stand, placing hands on desk for support. Bend one knee back, point toes out. Then flex foot toward calf and lift leg, being careful to use your glutes and not your lower back muscles. Aim for 20 to 30 reps on each leg.
- Wall Sits - Sit, without a chair, with your back straight against the wall, knees and hips at 90-degree angles. Try to hold for one minute.
Encourage Office Exercise Partners
When employees exercise with a partner, the positive effects immediately double. Finding an exercise partner at work will also increase your social bonds within the office. You and your partner (or partners) will be accountable to each other, making it less likely for any of you to grab a donut instead of a dumbbell during exercise breaks.
Whether you start big with an office gym or small with stretch breaks, once you get moving, you will not only love the way you feel, you will also love the results. You’ll enjoy better health and posture, your confidence will increase and your productivity will skyrocket. Talk about a confidence booster!