How Hitting The Gym Can Help You At The Office

April 1, 2014  |  

Sometimes it’s a pain to exercise. Sometimes you just don’t seem to have enough time. But as the Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It!

Exercise is not only good for your health, but it can help your career. “Your sweat sessions have some surprising mental health benefits, like reducing anxiety, increasing productivity, and boosting decision-making skills,” reports Men’s Fitness. Exercise will also help you deal better with on-the-job stress as it pumps your body full of endorphins. And it boosts self-confidence, which of course will help you during your next negotiation session.

Exercise is especially important for women, who have many added stressors on the job.

“A business woman who is physically fit will discover that she has more energy, is more productive at work and home, is able to deal with stress better. Exercising reduces a stress hormone and increases the chemical endorphins that make us feel happy. When one feels happy, a lot of good things happen!” Zawadi Barskile, owner and head fitness trainer at Fierce, Fit, & Fabulous–Fitness Training & Health and Wellness Education, tells MadameNoire via email.

Some experts say exercise will actually make you smarter. “Research suggests that aerobic exercise helps create new brain cells and improves the way your brain works. Tough workouts can also boost decision-making, higher thinking, and learning,” reports Men’s Fitness.

“In addition to promoting weight loss, busy businesswomen will find numerous physiological benefits of being physically fit such as reduced risks of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and colon cancer,” adds Barskile. “Regular physical fitness also helps manage arthritis by keeping the muscles around the joint strong, decreasing bone loss, and controlling swelling and pain. Equally important, and probably the highlight for a busy businesswoman would be that exercise helps enhance energy and stamina, reduce fatigue, and it improves sleep.”

Exercise also helps slow cognitive decline, which happens as we get older.

But the problem for many women is carving out enough time to exercise. Book time for yourself just as you would meetings. “In the same manner that a business woman schedules her clients and appointments, she should schedule her workouts and make them non-negotiable,” says Barskile. “Finding time may require waking up 30 minutes or an hour earlier, reducing social time, or working out a lunch. The health benefits make it worth the time.”

Even a few minutes is good. “One doesn’t need to find several hours in their week to spend at a gym to begin a fitness program,” assures Barskile. “Exercising at least 30 minutes a day is ideal, but two-to-four days a week, 30 minutes per session a week will produce results.”

Barskile suggests a high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) for  busy businesswomen. “This is a workout that alternates between intense bursts of exercises and periods of either low-intensity exercises or a complete recovery,” she explains. “A 30-minute high intensity interval training session which includes short bursts of cardio and/or strengthening exercises burns fat and improves one’s fitness quicker than constant moderate cardiovascular exercises like walking or running.”

And don’t forget to do strength training in addition to aerobic exercise. “I also emphasize that one strength trains; it is necessary to build and/or maintain lean muscle mass. Designing a HIIT workout is a simple as running as fast as you can for one minute then walking for two minutes for a total of 30 minutes. Or, doing jumping jacks for one minute, push ups for 30 seconds, high knees for one minute, plank hold for 30 seconds, and so on. The options are endless, and they can be fun,” Barskile advises.

For inspiration, work out with others. “Consider joining fitness groups like Black Girls Run. Some local chapters have scheduled runs as early as 5 a.m. which is ideal for the busy business woman,” notes  Barskile.

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