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Vanderburg: Working out for better productivity – Updated

Office workers should to take a fitness break throughout the day to get their heart rate up.

Jim Wells / Postmedia

It is well documented that physical activity improves productivity at work, but getting away from your desk to do your much-needed workout isn’t always possible. Did you know that even short exercise breaks will make a huge difference in your overall health and wellness?Regular exercise is essential for physical health, but knowing this may not be enough to fit it into your busy life. The good news is even a little can make an impact on your overall happiness and health.One of the most common barriers to exercise is a lack of energy. With work and life demands, the thought of doing physical activity is daunting. Ironically, even though activity takes effort it actually changes your energy. In fact, activity boost energy. A research study from the University of Georgia looked at a group of sedentary young adults who reported feeling low energy and fatigue. They were assigned to do low- to moderate-intensity exercise three times per week for six weeks. At the completion of the study, they reported a 20 per cent increase in energy levels and a 65 per cent decrease in feelings of fatigue.In an increasingly demanding workplace, a concern with taking time away from the office holds people back from giving themselves an exercise break. Researchers from the University of Bristol and Leeds Metropolitan University in England found that when people exercise they reported improvements in mood and work performance. Interestingly, the performance gains came regardless of exercise intensity. That means any form of exercise was beneficial. Stepping away from the desk for a five-minute walk will do you good.Other studies have shown that even in situations of job burnout, individuals who were physically active were more tolerant of stress and reported lower levels of depression.Productivity and brain power improve with exercise. This may be due to a number of physiological changes that occur during exercise. When you exercise, your body stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for “turning on” all the systems of the body to prepare it for work. With an increase in heart rate, breathing rate and circulation, there is an increase in oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain. Along with other hormonal changes that take place, the mind becomes more alert. In a recent study, researchers studied the link between exercise and cognitive ability. The study revealed there is an immediate change in cognitive skills when people performed 15 minutes of moderate to intense exercise.The same is true for creativity. When participants went for a walk, either on a treadmill or outdoors, their creative output increased substantially. Overall, during and after exercise, the mental state of participants in these studies changed dramatically. A greater sense of well-being, mental focus and positive energy was reported.Ideally getting away from the office and taking an exercise break will give you the best results, however, when time constraints don’t make this possible, try these quick exercise breaks.

     Breathing break. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply. Stand up and take a full inhalation for four counts, hold for one count and exhale for four counts, hold for one count. Notice how it changes your alertness. Chair squats. At your desk, stand up and sit down for 15 repetitions. Complete these three times through. Not only will you get stronger, you will increase your heart rate, blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Desk pushups. Place your hands on the edge of the desk and lower yourself into a pushup. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions. Seated or standing stretch. While sitting or standing at your desk, inhale deeply and raise your arms overhead. Exhale, the lower your arms. Do this five times. You will immediately notice increased energy. Take a walk. Set a timer to inform you to stand up and move around every 45-60 minutes. Walk around for a minute. Invest in a fitness tracking device and set it to alert you throughout the day.

Sitting has become the new health epidemic. It is estimated that over half of an adult’s normal day is spent sitting. Over the past several years numerous studies have cited the danger of sitting too much as the greatest health risk facing our current society. Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, weight gain and some forms of cancer have all been related to our societal change of chronic sitting.Developing strategies to get up and move throughout the day is important and can no longer be ignored. Simply move more and you will see the immediate benefits. Helen Vanderburg is co-owner of Heavens Elevated Fitness, Yoga and Spin Studio, a fitness expert and trainer. Find her online at heavensfitness.com and helenvanderburg.com. Follow her on Facebook/helenvanderburg, Instagram: @helenvanderburg  helen vanderburg • co-owner • heavensfitness.com • (403) 263-3113                             

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