In today’s world of #fitspo, athleisure and aerial yoga, it is easy to lose sight of some of the less obvious benefits of exercise.
When we think about the value of exercise, it is natural to focus on the physical benefits – a more toned appearance, improved cardiovascular health, better endurance and so on.
But the benefits of exercise extend further than fitting into skinny jeans. Yes, it’s true! Exercise has well-documented cognitive benefits including improved concentration, energy levels, and creativity, as well as reducing stress.
Nowhere are these benefits more pertinent than at work, particularly in a fast-paced environment like a public relations agency.
Ogilvy PR openly supports staff taking the time to exercise before, during, or after work through our agile working policy.
The onus is now on us, as staff, to shift our priorities. Instead of viewing exercise as a “nice to have” thing that takes us away from our work—it’s time we started considering it as part of the work itself.
Research published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that employees who did a workout before going to work, or exercised during lunchtime, were better prepared to handle whatever the day threw at them.
Studies show that exercise boosts productivity by increasing blood flow to the brain. It sharpens your awareness, allows you to focus for longer and, as a result, improves the quality of your work. One particular study conducted by Leeds Metropolitan University showed exercise during regular work hours leads to a higher spike in productivity.
Researchers examined more than 200 employees and monitored their physical activity. A key finding showed that, on the days employees visited the gym, their output and productivity saw huge improvement. Their work samples were of a much higher standard with less errors and greater consideration. Employees achieved more in the day, had smoother interactions and higher attention to detail. Go figure!
Many people are prevented from exercising saying they “have too much work” or “no time”, not realising the profound cognitive benefits exercise brings. Exercise allows us to process more information, at a faster pace, with greater consideration. I think we all have time to give it a go, and allow that to happen!
Some don’t exercise as they view it as an indulgence that takes them away from work. How about, in a new year, we shift this mindset and view exercise as a tool to help us achieve better work.
Keep this in mind – the alternative to exercise involves forgetting more often, processing information more slowly, and makes us less effective at our jobs and harder to get along with for our colleagues.
In 2017, Ogilvy is further supporting employees’ well-being by implementing the New South Wales Government Get Healthy at Work initiative.
Get Healthy at Work is a free NSW Government workplace health service that aims to improve the health of working adults by giving workplaces tools and support to address:
- Healthy eating
- Healthy weight
- Physical activity
- Active travel (i.e. walking, cycling, public transport to work)
- Harmful alcohol consumption
Pairing exercise and work has profound benefits on productivity. Harvard Business Review sums up perfectly: “Remember, you’re not abandoning work. On the contrary. You’re ensuring that the hours you put in, have value.”
Kate Parson – Senior Consultant, Ogilvy PR Health.