Want to do Better at Work? Get Your Ass to the Gym

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Want to kill it at work, while also sending a strong message to your coworkers that you’re capable of physically dominating them? Settle down, Dwight Schrute. You don’t need to be a workplace aggressor. But we all could benefit from a productivity boost. And there’s a relatively easy way to condition yourself to work harder, be more focused, and get more done.

All you have to do is get yourself to the gym, and institute a regular fitness regimen.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, as we know, Americans have an issue with staying fit. Roughly 15% of Americans actually go to a gym or fitness center regularly, and a whopping 80% of health club memberships go unused. Now, couple that with the fact that studies show regular exercise can increase your brain power, and thus your efficiency and effectiveness at work, and you might be looking at a way to separate yourself from the pack.

Research from the American College of Sports Medicine has shown a link between physical fitness and occupational performance. There are several reasons why this happens, but in many cases, it helps reduce the number of workplace injuries (depending on the specific job), and also alleviates physical ailments, or aches and pains, reducing the amount of time workers are not focused on their jobs — meaning that productivity goes up.

“Physical training can be effectively used as both a prevention and rehabilitation tool in occupational settings,” researchers write. “In addition to the well-known health benefits of being physically fit, physical training interventions can increase worker productivity by overcoming limitations in job performance due to inadequate muscle strength, power, endurance or aerobic capacity.”

The benefits of a physically-fit workforce is something that is becoming increasingly obvious to many employers. Company-sponsored gym memberships are starting to become a staple of many compensation packages, and some businesses even have rooms for yoga sessions and stretching.

A good number of people would actually give up some of their salary for an employer-sponsored gym membership, according to a survey from TechnologyAdvice.

So, given the fact that there is some scientific data to back-up the fact that working out can make you a better worker — and therefore more treasured asset to your company — along with the abysmal stats regarding fitness level and gym-going behaviors, getting your ass to the gym may pay off in a couple of big ways. First, you’ll get in better shape, and be healthier overall; and second, you could see an uptick in your performance, leading to promotions or pay increases.

Looking better, feeling better, and being better at your job? There really isn’t a downside to increasing your own personal level of fitness, at least not from a professional standpoint.

You’re probably wondering why, exactly, your brain and body are better-suited for work when you’re in better shape. And the American Psychological Association has some insight. The answer, according to the APA, is that exercise helps level-out neurochemicals in our bodies, which are released as a coping mechanism when we experience stress. Essentially, when you work out, your body is ‘practicing’ with how to deal with stressful situations, be them physical or mental. Regular ‘practice,’ in this sense, means that your body is more prepared to fight-off stress in the workplace, and experience reduced levels of anxiety and depression.

“It forces the body’s physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system,” the an APA release says, in reference to exercise. “All of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body’s communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.”

In the course of everyday events, this manifests itself in the ability to think on your feet, respond to changing conditions, and to take everything in stride — rather than get bogged down or overwhelmed.

With that in mind, it’s pretty obvious that adding a workout to your daily routine will benefit you in several ways. So skip happy hour — hit the gym instead.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger

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