12 February 2020

Why working out at work, works!

It’s been proven countless times that employees produce the highest levels of work when their personal wellbeing is being looked after. Put simply, the better you feel, the more productive you are.

So, where does working out come into this?

The benefits of exercising are well known; a good gym session not only benefits your physical health, but your cognitive & mental wellbeing too. However, finding the time to exercise during the working week can be tough – especially during the winter. The thought of getting up at 6am in the cold, dark (usually rainy) morning to fit in a pre-work gym session puts most people off. And it’s equally as hard to drag yourself there in the evening! When it’s dark before you’ve even left the office, motivation levels tend to be low.

We believe that allowing staff to make time for exercise during their work day allows our talent to shine, creating a better, happier, healthier business which benefits both Brandwidth and our clients.

Utilising your lunch hour to fit in a quick workout, or to perform any kind of exercise, seems to make sense. All too often though we are put off; seeing colleagues working through lunch, feeling guilty for taking a break and worrying about timings and judgemental colleagues often causes people to talk themselves out of leaving the office.

But this need not be the case! Let go of the lunch-time-gym guilt because there are a number of studies which show that exercising during your lunch hour not only increases productivity and reduces stress, but improves mental wellbeing – benefiting both you and your employers!

Below are just some of the benefits of squeezing in some mid-day exercise:

Boosted productivity

Research from the University of Bristol showed that workers who spent 30-60 minutes exercising during their lunch break had an average performance boost of 15%. Not only that, but all participants reported an increase in motivation to work after an exercise break. There are several factors that may cause this productivity increase. Firstly, taking the time to exercise at lunch forces you to make use of your full lunch break, giving you the chance to re-charge. It is also known that taking time away from a task to come back with a fresh mind allows us to look at problems differently. 60% of participants also said that taking time out at lunch improved their time management, increasing their ability to meet deadlines and improving mental performance. And finally, a further 79% of participants said that their communication & interpersonal skills improved after they exercised.

Increased energy

Avoid the notorious 3pm post-lunch slump! Lunchtime workouts allow you to step away from your work for a true break, before coming back after an hour or so feeling refreshed and ready for the afternoon. Giving yourself that mental break means your odds of having a productive PM are much higher. You’ll also have more energy, making it easier to tackle difficult strategic projects or tick through your pesky to-do list.

Lower stress and improved mental well-being

Harvard Medical School have said that “exercise has the unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress”. Most people will feel stressed at some point during the day or week, and increased stress levels are not only bad for our mental wellbeing, but they make it harder to concentrate on difficult tasks. Taking an hour out for a midday workout has proven to help reduce stress in the afternoon and even make it easier to remain focused throughout a full day of meetings.

Creativity flows

Exercise has been shown to ramp up creativity levels for nearly two hours, with a study by the US National Library of Medicine suggesting that a workout can sharpen your brain’s cognitive function by 5-10%. So, next time you’re struggling with writer’s block or staring into a black-hole of design ideas, why not step out of the office and get your endorphins flowing?

Say no to sedentary

Most office jobs involve sitting at a desk or in meetings for 99% of your day (bar a couple of coffee trips). It’s not healthy to sit down all day and studies have shown that sedentary behaviour is associated with health issues such as obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease and poor circulation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed an increase in mortality rates of 61% in people who sit and watch tv for over 7 hours a day, so while getting up from your desk to squeeze in exercising may not quite be life-saving, it can help to reduce desk-related health issues.

A stigma still exists around lunchtime sweat sessions, but with so many proven benefits perhaps it’s time we all kick the judgements out the window, pack a bag and hit up the gym for an hour. Of-course, work comes first, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to work out every day, but where you do have the time, try it out! You don’t need a gym membership to participate in a quick lunchtime exercise either; going for a brisk walk, a run or even doing some yoga at lunch has been proven to be just as effective.

Make the time, give it a go, reap the rewards!