True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united – Wilhelm von Humboldt An obvious immediate benefit of exercise is that it helps to look after your health. If you are healthy, then you won’t have as much downtime through illness. If you are ill, you either aren’t working at all, or you are working at your most effective level. Keep healthy and keep your productivity up.
Upgrade Your BrainAs well as the apparent benefits, exercise also has some extra advantages for your productivity. Exercise changes your brain to improve memory and thinking skills. It has been shown to boost the size of the hippocampus. This area of the brain is responsible for verbal memory and learning. Just a ten to forty-minute burst of exercise has been shown to give a boost in concentration. You are giving increased blood flow to the brain which helps to keep you on high alert. You can boost your productivity for up to two hours after exercise. Exercising outside amongst nature enhances inspiration even further. Exercise reduces insulin resistance, reduces inflammation and increases the release of growth factors. Growth factors affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, the abundance of new brain cells and their survival. There is a link between improved memory and reduction in Cathepsin B production.
Improve Mental HealthIn a previous article, we saw how sleep affects your productivity, and a further benefit of exercise is that it aids a good night’s sleep. Also, it improves mood, reducing stress and anxiety. Cardiovascular exercise is as good as taking anti-depressants. Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and endocannabinoids are all released during exercise, which makes us happy. Myokines are produced which protect the brain from stress-induced depression. Missing exercise can lead to a sharp drop in mood. Blood flow drops after just a ten-day break from exercise. As well as your hippocampus, exercise has been shown to increase the volume of the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex, leading to better thinking and memory. With a programme of moderate exercise, for just six months to a year, leading to increases in selected brain areas. A study in twins showed that those who exercise had more grey matter. Studies on exercise have also demonstrated increased resistance to stress and ageing. So, exercise helps with:
- Mental strain
- Lower stress
- Enhanced creativity
- Improved self-confidence