Exercise for health, emotional wellbeing and productivity

Chris Gillies, The Performance Clinic

The fitness industry has typically had a focus on helping people look good. In recent times, the shift in mindset now incorporates engaging in exercise to not only look good, but to improve our health and feel good. But what about exercise for productivity?

With increasing demands, employees are working longer; spending much more time sitting without substantial movement for lengthy periods. This lack of movement is detrimental to our health and our productivity. Many aren’t getting anywhere near the suggested daily step count.

You have most likely heard that 10,000 steps is the daily recommended minimum for a healthy lifestyle. Studies always differ, but most fitness experts agree and recommend 10,000 steps to their clients as general activity. The recent nationwide Steptember challenge, had people walking each day to raise money, so why not make this a personal challenge and aim for 10,000 steps every day.

But remember, the body is designed to move regularly, and exercise for most should also involve elements of strength based activities to prevent our muscles and bones from naturally wasting away. Cardio activities that elevate your heart rate, more than what walking can generally provide, is also important. Elevating your heart rate and exercising at a moderate or vigorous intensity level will lead to greater physiological adaptations and reduce the risk of heart attack. Those that move regularly and follow national health guidelines, are typically more energised and also more productive.

Here are six benefits of how exercise can promote better physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and help you to be more productive:

  1. Stress relief

One of the best ways to combat stress is to lace up your shoes and work up a sweat. It is often recommended by clinicians to help reduce anxiety, with a growing body of evidence to demonstrate its success.

  1. Boost your mood

That post-workout high you feel after exercise is actually a release of feel good chemicals in the body, such as serotonin and endorphins that create feelings of happiness. It is well documented that in cases of mild depression exercise can improve mood.

  1. Improve your confidence

Pumping weights in the gym or going for a 5km run, other than obvious health benefits can also help you feel better about yourself. Regardless of weight and shape, research shows exercise can increase a person’s perception of their attractiveness.

  1. Keep your brain sharp

Exercise helps prevent age-related decrease in brain matter, enhances cognitive flexibility (thinking skills) and reduces the risk of developing dementia. Working out regularly, especially between your 20s and 50s, boosts the chemicals in your brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain used for memory and learning.

  1. Increase your energy

Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or running, as well as strength based activities increases the number of mitochondria in our cells, which are responsible for producing energy that the body can use. More mitochondria means our body can increase its energy production, which helps fight fatigue by powering activities of daily life. Time it right and you can use this energy boost to your advantage. For example, take a quick walk at lunch to avoid that afternoon energy slump.

  1. Improved sleep

Exercise not only improves your energy and decreases lethargy during the day, it also improves the quality of your sleep at night instigating a stronger onset of parasympathetic nervous system response (recovery)Keeping these benefits in mind, there are some easy ways for you to increase your daily step count, such as:

  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator going for a lunch time walk
  • going for walking meetings with your colleagues (usually up to groups of three

With the growing trend of wearable technology that tracks your physical activity, this means it is even easier to ensure that you are achieving your daily steps, and coupled with a healthy diet, adequate water consumption and positive thinking, you will be giving yourself the best chance to stay healthy and energised, boosting productivity and consistently performing at your best.

Always remember to consult your doctor before embarking on any new exercise regime.

KPMG is  a platinum sponsor of CAN4CANCER, a CommBank Group community initiative with Tour de Cure which raises vital funds to prevent cancer and find a cure. The event includes a 3-day bike ride and a number of 21 kilometre walks which KPMG people are training for 10,000 steps at a time.

One thought on “Exercise for health, emotional wellbeing and productivity

  1. Thanks Chris for reminding us all of the importance of exercise – not just walking which is important, but weights, fitness sessions and different sports and exercise where you elevate your heart rate. The benefits in a 24/7 ‘always on’ world are significant – you mention elevating your energy, better sleep, boost confidence & mood and reduces stress and helps with mental health – in mental health month this is a very timely reminder. Finally, quick plug – our registrations close this Friday for the KPMG Dragons – our fit and fearless dragon boat racing crews – over 50% of this years’ crew have never been in a dragon boat before – we train to take on all corporate teams in Darling Harbour Sunday 18 February.

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