Have you ever had such a terrible day that you just wanted to punch something? Or are you like me and enjoy letting your frustrations out on the pavement with your running shoes? As a student-athlete on the track and field team at the University of Nebraska, I am partial to the latter. The point stands: running, or at least exercising every day, makes you a better employee. Exercising regularly can turn you into a happier, healthier person, and have a positive effect on your career. Here’s how:
Don’t worry, be happy! Running can improve your mental health/overall mood.
I have experienced this one first-hand. A 2007 Study in Psychological Behavior showed that running causes the same effect on the brain as some addictive drugs. Yes, “runner’s high” is a real thing!
Running can boost your mood by making you feel accomplished. It can also make you tired, helping you sleep better at night. If you are well-rested, you are going to be in a better mood and be more productive!
I asked a teammate of mine how running makes her feel:
“A run, after a tough day, can give you time to process your thoughts and clear your head. Plus, when you get done, you feel a mix of accomplishment and tiredness that pushes any remaining worries away.” –Megan L.
How will this affect you at work? Happy employees are good employees. Success can bring happiness, but have you considered the opposite? Happiness breeds success.
Exercise boosts your immune system and improves your overall physical health.
You might ask, “How does a strong immune system affect my performance at work?” Think about this: Do you feel like making your rounds at the hospital when your head is pounding from a sinus infection? How does presenting your big idea sound when you have a sore throat or lost your voice? If you have a strong immune system, these situations will present themselves only once in a blue moon.
What does this have to do with exercise? Medline Plus has these theories:
- “Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness.”
- “The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection more effectively. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)”
- “Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Stress increases the chance of illness, so lower stress hormones may protect against illness.”
It won’t kill you. And yes, it will make you stronger.
Running has several positive effects on the body. Running is actually great for the joints, contrary to popular belief. How? Running has been known to increase bone mass and can help reduce your risk of osteoarthritis.
It also can help you maintain a healthy weight, or help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Exercise burns calories. But here’s the bonus: those calories continue to burn even after you stop. That’s like getting paid for overtime without staying past 5:00pm! What’s not to like?
Running adds years to your life. According to Runner’s World, “even if you meet just the minimum amount of physical activity (30 minutes, 5 times per week), you’ll live longer.” This is because daily exercise strengthens your heart, decreases your risk of heart disease, helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure, and raises your levels of good cholesterol!
The Bottom Line
I’m not saying everyone should turn into an avid marathoner or that not doing so means you’re bad at your job. The bottom line is this: A little bit of exercise can improve your health and overall mood, making you feel better and want to do your job.
Here’s my advice: for the next week, try doing 30 minutes of exercise every weekday. This can mean walking your dog, playing a game of tennis, riding a bike, weight lifting at the gym, or my favorite- running. How do you feel? My bet is you will get a boost of energy, feel better about yourself, and even begin to feel the health benefits after just a week. Try it!