When you exercise, you spend a part of your time each day to complete the routines. Based on this premise, you’ll spend time doing other activities that should be allotted for your work. That seems counterproductive, right?
Wrong. Studies show that when you exercise regularly your mind becomes sharper and your mood significantly improves. The blood flow to your brain increases, thus improving its efficiency. These, in turn, help boost your productivity by at least 20% more. The World Health Organization recommends exercising at least 30 minutes in a day. You may set one 30-minute session or break it down into smaller chunks throughout the course of the day.
Except for breathing exercises, activities should be a bit difficult than what you’re typically used to (breathing exercises focus more on rhythm, so, this is not applicable in this case). Also, your heartbeat should be slightly elevated when doing these activities.
One easy way to know if you’re exercising hard enough is using the “talk and sing test” which includes the following:
• If you can exercise while talking or singing that means the exercise is too easy for you. In this case, you need to speed things up or make the weights heavier.
• If you can exercise while talking but can’t do it while singing that means the exercise intensity is just about right for you.
• If you can neither sing nor talk that means you’re working out too hard. You need to slow down a bit or lift slightly lessen your weight load.
1. Breathing Exercises
This is the foundation for all the other exercises that you will perform. Therefore, you need to master how to do this. This can help boost productivity by encouraging your body to supply more oxygen to your brain. Remember, oxygen is a precious commodity for your brain. Low supplies of oxygen can make you feel sluggish and lethargic, thus decreasing your chances to perform better at work. Examples for breathing exercises may include:
• The 4-7-8 breathing pattern: This is an activity that you can do each time you feel stressed out. Sit on a chair with your back straight. Place your tongue against the upper palate, specifically, where your upper incisors meet your gums. Rest your tongue against that area for the entire activity. Quietly inhale through your nose, count up to four, hold your breath for seven counts, exhale through your mouth for eight counts, and then make a whooshing sound while you’re at it. Do this slowly so as not to constrict your airway. Do this three or four more times.
• Breathing with meditation and/or mindfulness: This is a bit similar to the 4-7-8 breathing activity. The main difference is that this has progressions. For this exercise, you need to sit upright or lie down first. Closing your eyes can help you avoid distractions so you can focus more on the breathing pattern. Perform the 4-7-8 pattern for 15 minutes. When you’ve mastered breathing while sitting or lying down, progress to meditating with your eyes open, then while walking, then while doing your usual chores.
2. Strengthening Exercises (resistance exercises)
These can help bulk up your muscles. It can help improve your productivity levels by increasing the rates of pumping blood around the body. This is especially evident in the calf muscles. Aside from that, this can help correct postural problems and eventually get rid of pain and discomfort due to poor posture. You can do these exercises 3-5 times a week. Start off with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each. These exercises may include:
• Lower back: Bridges are good exercises to begin with.
• Abdomen: Fortunately, crunches are not the only way to go (these are good exercises, though!). Other variations are double leg lifts and planks.
• Hips: Single leg lift exercise is a good start. Progress this by incorporating ankle weights.
• Shoulders: Dumbbells or kettlebells are your friends.
3. Aerobic Exercises
This type of exercise mainly focuses on the cardiovascular system. Thus, it can help promote better blood circulation while improving your tolerance for prolonged physical work. If your work becomes easier for you physically, it helps you accomplish more chores without getting tired easily. You can do these exercises 4-6 times a week. Go for a minimum of 15-20 minutes and progress until you reach one hour. Aerobic exercise may include:
• Walking: No, your usual walking will not normally cut it. If you’re just starting out with this entire exercise thing, you can prolong your walking time. When you get used to that, switch to brisk walking.
• Running: Heck, you can even do continuous training so you can take part in marathons.
• Swimming: If possible, make sure the water is a bit warm when you exercise.
• Dancing: May it be video game dancing or some classic dance classes, get your groove on. Jamming with friends is highly recommended!
4. Flexibility Exercises
Most of the activities under this exercise type aim to improve the range of motion of your muscles and joints. This also helps relieve tension in different muscle groups. As a result, it reduces your stress levels. You can do these exercises 5-6 times a week. Start off with 3 repetitions with a 30-second hold of each muscle group.
• Abdominal stretches: Get in a prone position. Prop your arms up and hold the position for 30 seconds. This is equivalent to one repetition.
• Lower back stretches: While in a long sitting position with your back straight, stretch out your arms in front of you and reach for your toes.
• Shoulder stretches: Sit up straight and place one arm behind you. Using your other hand, tilt your head to the opposite direction until you feel a stretching sensation at the side of your neck.
It’s best to perform these exercises alternatively for two good reasons: First, this can help your major muscle groups take a break while other muscles are worked out for a specific day; and, second, this will prevent boredom. The latter is more important because this will tell if you’ll be in it for the long haul. If all else fails, be accountable to someone else (i.e., trusted friend, gym buddies, close family member) so you’ll adhere to your routines more efficiently.