It’s no secret – exercise has numerous benefits for your overall physical health and well being, such as controlling your weight, reducing the risk of various diseases, and strengthening your bones and muscles. What is often overlooked however, are the mental benefits of exercise. These mental benefits can have a massive impact on your day to day life, such as how you sleep and how well you perform at work. They include:
Improved thinking, learning, and judgement. As these become sharper from regular exercise, so too will your ability to work with pace and make critical decisions on the job.
Reduce your risk of depression. Although exercise alone may not be the cure all for depression, it can reduce stress and put you in a good mood from the release of endorphins. Starting the week off right with a good workout may well make Monday seem like a walk in the park.
Sleep better. Sleep is one of the major factors that affect how you do at work; and a lot of us simply aren’t getting enough of it. Regular exercise will allow you to fall asleep easier and earlier, which should directly have a positive impact at work the next day.
Chances are, that person who arrives at work early in the morning with loads of energy, despite it being a long week ahead, are keeping up with their exercise regimen. Through the use of regular exercise, you can regularly perform at a higher level at work; benefiting you, your company, and your fellow co-workers.
There are multiple ways to start getting active, whether it’s on your own, through a gym, or even during a corporate wellness day. A planned outing with your co-workers is a great way to kick off a new routine and learn a few things. I recently lead a retreat at the Estancia Hotel La Jolla in San Diego with a fantastic group of empolyees. We’ll take a look at a few of the exercises I introduced to them as well as recapping the adventure itself; after that, we’ll go into some creative ways to introduce exercise into your busy, everyday schedule.
Corporate Wellness Day
The best way to kick off some corporate wellness is with a little competition. We started our day off at noon with a light lunch, and then I split up the attendees into two separate teams: ‘Beasts of the East’, and the ‘Best of the Wild West’. To add to the atmosphere, each team was given their own team t-shirt and a hydra belt, for water, to stay hydrated throughout the day.
The most important thing to do before engaging in any type of exercise is warming up and stretching. Not just any kind of stretching though – dynamic movements are best, meaning you move as you stretch. Dynamic stretching activates muscles you will be using during your workout and improves body awareness.
After some simple drills like high knees, forward lunges with trunk rotations, and so forth, I introduced them to the concept of resistance bands and handed one out to each attendee. Then, I demonstrated a number of simple exercises which the resistance bands could be used with, impacting their entire body. These varied from overhead push presses for their shoulders, to bent over band rows for their back, all the way to lateral walks. Lateral walks were especially impactful that day since they activate your glutes: perfect before our competitive hike.
After a brief 15 minute break, we headed to the shuttle to begin the competition. We took it roughly 5 miles to the drop off base, which was Torrey Pines Natural Preserve. After that, each team took to their separate ways on two different trails: the Guy Fleming Trail and the Beach Trail. Once a team finished one trail, they had to shift to the other. As everyone had to finish together and take a beach photo, it was a great way to build team spirit, absorb some breathtaking views, and exercise in a fun way. After almost a cumulative 4 miles of hiking, the Best of the Wild West edged out of the Beasts of the East and took home the prestigious trophy!
Benefits of a Wellness Day
Taking time off to focus on yourself is important for your overall health, as well as your physical and mental well being. It will allow you to perform better at work, feel more energized during the day, and generally achieve more. Participating in regular outings that your work may have is a great start, but should be supplemented with your own exercise regimen. Its super easy to make exercise a regular part of your schedule, even if it’s already jam packed and you can’t seem to fit in anymore time. Let’s take a look at a few ways how you can get more exercise to boost your vitality and perform better.
Creative Ways to Introduce Workouts in a Busy Schedule
One of the best ways to get creative is one that I demonstrated above: resistance bands. Resistance bands come in a variety of weights and are suitable for most people. The exercises you can perform with them are almost limitless, hitting all parts of your body. Some of them include:
- Overhead push press (shoulders)
- High pulls (shoulders)
- Tricep presses (triceps)
- Lateral walks (glutes)
- Bent over band rows (back)
- Hammer curls (biceps)
You can use resistance bands almost anywhere, whether it’s outside, in your own room, or even when you are traveling and at a hotel.
Tying in closely with resistance bands are calisthenics. Calisthenics consist of using your bodyweight to perform exercises, and like resistance bands, can be done literally anywhere. Some of them include lunges, bodyweight squats, push ups, jumping jacks, sit ups, and planks. They are a great way to wake up in the morning and get your day started, and can also be performed before bed, as long as you find it doesn’t impact your sleep.
If you have an hour lunch break, you can squeeze in a quick 15 to 20 minute workout or brisk walk and still eat lunch afterwards. As a bonus, you will probably see your performance at work increase after your mini workout – while your co-workers might be facing a case of post lunch drowsiness.
Regularly weight training at the gym is one of the best ways to stay fit, improve your work performance, and keep you mentally sharp. But when your schedule is just too busy to accomplish this a few times a week (or at all), I think you’ll find these alternative options are suitable ways to keep you at a high level throughout the work week and feeling great.