How to Increase Productivity Through Exercise
Compared with residents of other developed countries, America’s full-time employees put in longer hours and take less time off, with nearly 40 percent of workers clocking in for at least 50 hours of work time each week. As the work week increases, the health of many employees takes a hit as the extra hours make it more difficult to prepare healthy meals and find time to exercise. As a result, more than 64 percent of American adults are considered to be obese. Obesity leads to health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, while increasing the likelihood of missed work days due to these issues. Employees who are physically fit, on the other hand, report being less stressed and anxious and having a lower rate of absenteeism. So what can be done to reverse — or at least slow — this trend? One easy step to increasing work productivity is by increasing physical activity through exercise. Excellence In Fitness Personal Training Studios in Maryland can help you reach your productivity goals by helping you live a healthier life.
Personal Training for Office Workers
Many people who work in an office setting experience nagging aches and pains from inactivity. In fact, over 50% of office workers surveyed reported a lack of activity as their top complaint, according to a recent study. Sitting in a stiff chair while looking at a computer screen for hours at a time leads to neck stiffness, carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain. When this type of pain becomes bothersome and leads to physical problems during the rest of your day, personal training might be a good match for you.
Another leading cause of decreased productivity is stress. Occupational stress is now considered to be a global epidemic, according to the International Labor Organization of the United Nations. It’s estimated that work-related stressors factor into a loss of $200 billion per year for things like lower productivity, missed work days and staff turnover. In contrast, a recent study by Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey noted that workplace stress is less prevalent in developing countries. This may be due to the effect of consumerism and the constant desire to “get ahead” of competitors, which is often a driving force in American workplaces.
To counteract this workplace stress, many companies have begun offering gym memberships or in-office yoga and meditation classes to employees. But even if your company hasn’t embraced this holistic approach, or if you find yourself wanting more physical activity than these classes offer, meeting with a personal trainer at Excellence In Fitness can help alleviate stress and improve your work performance.
Physical Problems for Office Workers
The human body is meant to be in motion, but the standard American office worker doesn’t have a lot of time to stay active. As a result of sitting in one place for hours at a time, many employees develop chronic back pain, joint problems and carpal tunnel syndrome. Bad posture makes this worse, but a lack of proper office ergonomics (which is the science behind appropriate chair height and equipment space) also contributes to these problems.
The easy answer is to keep moving. Getting up from your desk and taking brief walks throughout the day or doing yoga stretches behind your desk can help alleviate the stagnancy that sets into your muscles. If this is difficult in your current job, seeking help from a personal trainer and starting a regular exercise routine can keep blood flowing through your body and may put an end to the muscle stagnancy you feel during a workday.
While most people understand the obvious fact that exercise helps you lose weight and gain muscle, there are a lot of other benefits of exercise for working adults. Consider these lesser-known but important advantages:
- Healthier Lifestyle. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop long-term illnesses like hypertension and diabetes. Physical activity also reduces your chances of catching the flu or a cold, which means fewer missed work days and can help increase your exercise and work productivity compared to your sedentary co-workers.
- Mental alertness. Physical activity helps increase blood supply to the brain, which makes you more mentally alert. This increased sharpness will help you stay awake and can increase your ability to remain focused on tasks.
- Increased energy. Anyone who exercises regularly can tell you that, although physical activity initially makes you more tired, over time, it increases your energy level. Not having to fight off mid-afternoon brain fog will help improve productivity at work and can eliminate the need to rely on caffeine or sugary snacks for a quick pick-me-up.
- Mood enhancement. Physical activity is a natural way to increase both your serotonin and endorphin levels. When these hormones are increased, your mood improves and you are less likely to suffer from depression.
- Impulse control. Once your endorphin level increases from exercise, you’ll be less likely to get distracted by a round of Candy Crush or a Facebook check-in. Endorphin’s also help you prioritize your tasks at hand and block out trivial distractions that might come up during a workday.
Lifetime Exercise Opportunities for Office Workers
Finding the time to visit a gym or personal trainer during the workday can be difficult for many people. Giving up your lunch break only to spend some of it in traffic on your way to a gym, then returning to work sweaty and tired, are two legitimate (and easy) excuses to prevent you from exercising. For this reason, many corporations are adding exercise equipment to their facilities or are bringing in workout instructors to encourage employees to get their blood pumping during the workday. Getting employees together for an early afternoon workout that’s right there in the office makes it difficult for anyone to find an excuse to miss a session. And, there’s good reason to justify this expense for corporations—a recent study found that employees who work out during the day are more productive, which makes an in-office gym or daily exercise class a justifiable office expense. But what if you don’t have access to a gym on a daily basis? There are plenty of other activities you can do during the workday that will raise your heart rate and result in increased productivity.
The most important part if finding an exercise that you can commit to. Walking outdoors or around a track, playing tennis, or participating in a team sport are all effective means of exercise as long as you perform it regularly. For most people, this means finding an activity that you truly enjoy, since it’s easier to stick to an exercise plan if you like it.
Here are some ideas for kick-starting your lunch time exercise routine:
Walking – The easiest, and cheapest, form of exercise is simply walking. Taking a brisk 30-minute walk around lunchtime provides a quick pick-me-up and helps employees get through the afternoon slump. In fact, one study showed that employees who walked during their lunch break were less stressed afterwards.
Getting started is easy, just pack your sneakers, plan a path, and head out. If you’d like to invite co-workers and start a walking group, you might be more motivated to stick to your routine knowing that they are expecting you to be there. But taking a walk is also a good way to center yourself and regroup after a tough morning, so don’t feel bad about reserving it for some “me time.” You can start your routine by checking Google maps for walking paths in your area or by downloading apps that help track your progress.
Yoga – While some companies are sponsoring in-office yoga breaks, this might not be realistic in a small office or one in which lunch breaks occur on a staggered schedule. Still, don’t let a lack of opportunity stop you from getting the physical and mental benefits of this ancient form of exercise.
A great yoga workout can be achieved by watching videos on YouTube, downloading yoga apps, or putting together your own workout based on classes you’ve taken in the past. It’s also easy to incorporate breathing exercises and relaxation techniques at regular intervals during the day if you prefer to take smaller breaks.
Team Sports – If you were an athlete as a child or during high school, there’s a good chance that you still remember the basics of your sport. Team sports, including softball, basketball, and tennis, are great opportunities to get involved with regular exercise without making a huge commitment of time and money. Many community centers and YMCAs offer adult leagues during the afternoon or pick-up games that allow you just drop in at your convenience. You might also be able to find a coach who can work with you one-on-one. This will not only help you improve your game, but will give you additional workout times to help improve your work productivity and your overall health.
What to Expect From Your First Personal Training Session
Your first session with a personal trainer will help set the tone for this ongoing relationship. You’ll need to be honest about your current physical activity level and what type of exercise you’ve done in the past. A good personal trainer will develop a program that is specific to your needs and ability, which will vary greatly from person to person. Someone who spends most of their day sitting at a desk will need a much different program compared to a former military member who runs several miles a day. Here are some other things to expect from your first visit:
- Goal Setting. This is your opportunity to let your trainer know what you hope to accomplish. Your trainer will ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle and what areas you are interested in changing. While most personal trainers focus on exercise, they might also give you advice about your eating habits and may suggest other lifestyle changes you can make to be healthier. While some people go into exercise programs with the specific goal of completing a marathon or losing a set amount of weight, you should also tell your trainer if you have other goals in mind, such as improving your work performance through exercise or improving your mental health. Your goals will likely change over time as your endurance and strength improve, so don’t be disappointed if your personal trainer sets moderate goals initially.
- Initial Exercises. Your first session won’t just be a meet-and-greet. Your trainer will likely run you through some exercises to get a better understanding of your exercise tolerance and ability. Make sure you dress comfortably in workout clothes and drink plenty of water ahead of time. If you plan to meet with your trainer over your lunch break from work, make sure they know this ahead of time so they don’t send you back to the office in a sweat.
- Assessment test. The first time you meet, your trainer will need to check your height and weight and will also measure the circumference of certain body parts, like your hips, waist, arms and thighs. These measurements will be repeated during future sessions to mark your progress. While many people who are new to personal training dread this part, it’s the best way to make sure you are meeting your goals and will help your trainer develop a plan that will target the areas you need to work the most.
- Equipment and exercise training. One of the most important things to do during your first session is to learn how the equipment works. Misuse of exercise equipment can cause serious injuries. Likewise, incorrectly doing a non-equipment-based exercise, like sit-ups or push-ups, can lead to pulled muscles. You’ll also exert a lot of effort for an exercise that won’t produce results if your technique isn’t right.
Personal Training Exercise Basics
While your personal trainer will provide you with tips and advice on how to make the most of your exercise routine and how to increase productivity in the workplace at the same time, there are a few standard tips we’ll share that will make your workout perfect. Always check with your trainer to be sure you understand their instructions and that you’re using the best technique for your goals. Spending time and energy on a program that isn’t working won’t help you gain strength, lose weight or improve your productivity at work.
Most of us were taught how to do push-ups in elementary school gym class. Our bodies have changed a lot since
then and, let’s face it, our technique probably wasn’t close to perfect. Here are some tips on transforming your push-up from blah to perfect.
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Place your hands on the floor just outside of your shoulders but even with the middle of your chest.
- Spread your fingers so your entire hand is touching the floor.
- Lift up with your elbows so the front of your arms make a 90-degree angle with the floor.
- At the same time, lift your legs and flex your toes.
- As you raise your body, your head should remain facing down toward the floor.
- Push down into the floor as you raise your body, but don’t lock your elbows. This move should be done slowly and deliberately, lasting at least three to five seconds.
- Using your elbows, legs and core muscles, lower yourself to the floor slowly, without touching it. The only parts of your body that should be in contact with the floor are your hands and toes.
- Push yourself up again using the same steps.
Even if you’re a seasoned marathon runner in the great outdoors, you’ll need to adjust your pace and your running style on a treadmill. When running outdoors, you’ll encounter changing weather conditions, obstacles like parked cars to run around and natural inclines and down slopes. A treadmill, on the other hand, can be too easy to rely on since the course is pre-set.
A common mistake that treadmill runners make is holding on to the handrails. If you find yourself doing this, you should adjust the setting to a slower speed or lower incline. Except for the occasional touch to center yourself, you should be running without holding on to the rails. Another common problem for treadmill runners is not starting out on a lower speed to accommodate a proper warm-up run. Talk to your trainer about the machine that you’ll be using to make sure you are starting off at a fast walk or slow jog for the first few minutes.
Lifting Free Weights With Your Legs
Using free weights can be intimidating, and using them improperly can hurt your body and set your exercise regime back. One of the most common mistakes that new users of free weights make is using the strength in their back to lift them. In most cases, free weight exercises like the barbell squat and step-up should put the strain on your legs, not your back. If you find yourself using your back and core muscles during these lifts, you’re doing them wrong and are putting yourself at risk of serious injury. Your trainer should show you the proper way to maximize the resistance and strength in your leg muscles on these lifts.
If you’ve noticed that your work productivity is lacking, or if you’d like to improve your general health and well-being, the staff at Excellence In Fitness in Millersville and Annapolis want to hear from you. Fill out our contact information page so we can get in touch with you about your exercise goals. Our staff would love to help you meet your fitness goals while improving your work productivity at the same time!