If you keep up with a fitness regimen, you’ve probably noticed that its benefits spread to other areas of your life—not just to your physique. Boosted mood, decreased irritability, and improved emotional resilience are among the more invisible (but fantastic!) perks of staying active. What you may not have known, however, is that regular exercise—especially if it involves working toward and meeting specific fitness goals—can enhance your performance at work, arguably making hitting the gym, mat, or trail an important component of rocking your career like a boss.
Leanne Shear, the co-founder and president of Uplift Studios, sees a correlation between improving personal fitness and ramping up professional performance: “Women are claiming their strength in the workplace more than ever—and with regards to working out, the women who come through the doors get stronger, they lift heavier, they feel more powerful, and it certainly translates into their careers. I see constant examples of it.” In short, literal strength building can help lay the groundwork for strength building in the figurative sense: get your body strong, and your ambition will follow.
Although the relationship between improved physical fitness and career success is a somewhat new area of research, there are several theories to explain why that Monday-morning vinyasa class or kickboxing sesh helps you succeed in both short-term and longterm job-related goals—from powering through a tricky presentation to aiming for the stars in your five-year plan.
First, exercise builds confidence. What begins as confidence in our own own physical strength and endurance turns into confidence in our mental acuity and ability to handle difficult personal and professional situations. In turn, we may be more willing to share our ideas and volunteer for important projects, fostering productive networking as well as a synergistic, collaborative work environment—and that helps everybody win!
Second, getting our sweat on helps relieve stress. Not only does chronic stress threaten our overall physical health (too much stress or stress of the wrong variety is associated with increased inflammation), stress and anxiety can also interfere with our ability to stay in the moment (and stay on task). Indeed, when we’re better at managing our stress, we’re better able to focus on work-related projects and even bring creative, forward-thinking ideas into the mix. In the end, improved stress management clears the way for increased job satisfaction. Once again, a win for you and everybody around you.
Finally, that “exercise high” is, in part, a surge of endorphins, the “happy” hormones. Researchers have demonstrated that happiness correlates to career success: “compared with their less happy peers, happy people earn more money, display superior performance, and perform more helpful acts … Researchers have often assumed that an employee is happy and satisfied because he or she is successful … [however, evidence supports that] happiness is a source of why particular employees are more successful than others.” In other words, if you’re happier (during and outside of work), your chances of getting ahead increase. Happiness is an ingredient of success rather than just the other way around.
If you’re already regularly active, consider ramping up your goals—or even just getting more specific about what fitness goals you’d like to reach. The experience of working toward and meeting goals may result in something parallel taking place at your job. At the very least, the thrill of nailing your goals will help build your self-confidence. Why not try our 10-Day Core-Tightening Ab Challenge and stoke the fire within?
Have you noticed a connection between your workouts and your success at work? Let us know in the comments below!
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Photo: Alexander Mils on Unsplash, Crystal Chin