In the winter months in general, more people tend to experience the “winter blues” and slack on exercising or even getting up at all during the day. With the continued “new normal” of working from home, this has become even more apparent. Sneaking in movement throughout the day – which does not always have to be a high intensity workout – will substantially help your physical health, but can also improve your work productivity as well. Here’s how to elevate your workplace wellness.
More Alertness and Energy
During exercise such as strength training or power walking, there is an increase in blood flow to your brain as your heart rate rises and pumps fresh, oxygenated blood throughout the body. According to the American Council on Exercise, a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) boosts your cognitive abilities; and BDNF is triggered by exercise. I’ve also found myself that I am more alert when I start my day with a glass of warm water with lemon and a walk outside, even if it is only for 20 minutes. No matter the weather, I dress appropriately and get outside or take a workout class in my living room. I sometimes complete a gentle morning yoga flow, like sessions from the Yoga with Adriene YouTube Channel.
Exercise also helps improve sleep, and according to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get, which refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Therefore, exercise can also help to stabilize your mood and decompress the mind. Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that keep the brain awake, so it may be a better fit for you to work out a few hours before bed, or this may not affect you. Dr. Gamaldo found that those who complete at least a 30-minute moderate aerobic exercise daily commonly experience improved sleep quality over time.
A recent study from GoodRX found that the most commonly reported experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulty with motivation to eat healthy and exercise, which are important tools in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you are having a stressful day or you feel your mental health is taking a toll, try taking a break to do even a short 10 minutes of stretching or cardio. Aerobic exercises including walking, jogging, and dancing have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, and these benefits can start right after a moderate or vigorous workout. All good things for workplace wellness.
Staying active is vital for several reasons. Besides the physical reasons, including heart rate, weight loss, and muscle toning, a little movement will significantly impact alertness, energy, sleep, and mood. All these positive effects, in turn will improve your focus and concentration, and lower your stress levels so you can focus on your work tasks at hand in a more productive, and positive way. I will see you on the walking trails, masked up.