There’s one in every office. You know, the guy or gal who arrives fresh faced every morning still sporting the glow of their early morning workout. Funny thing is, this same individual never seems to run out of steam, even though they were pulling on their workout gear well before you rolled out of bed.
As you look on with envy at their seemingly unlimited pep, you have to wonder: does exercise beget energy or does energy beget exercise? As it turns out, even a little bit of exercise can help turn a couch potato into the energizer bunny, according to the experts.
“It’s a paradox,” says Patrick Chartier an exercise science professor from the University of Georgia. “Some people think that exercise causes fatigue, but actually the opposite is true.”
Mr. O’Connor, who has co-authored several studies exploring the relationship between exercise and energy, says that low to moderate intensity exercise can produce as much as a 20 per cent increase in energy levels and a 65 per cent decrease in fatigue. That’s pretty impressive considering that most of the subjects studied complained that they were overworked and short on sleep, a condition that’s familiar to many time-pressed entrepreneurs who are juggling the demands of work and family.
Also worth noting is that the subjects in Mr. O’Connor’s study exercised for just 20 minutes, three times a week and that low intensity exercise seemed to produce a greater reduction in fatigue than moderate intensity workouts.
But that’s not all exercise can do to improve a hectic lifestyle. A 20-minute exercise session reduces stress and improves sleep. In fact, its impact on stress is so profound that studies suggest physical activity is as effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression as psychotherapy and antidepressant medication.
But unlike those options, which can take weeks to kick in, it takes as little as one bout of exercise to lift your spirits, says Isabelle Soucy Chartier, a doctoral student in clinical and research psychology at Laval University in Quebec City.
Researchers aren’t sure how exercise works its magic. But they do know that its feel-good afterglow can last the whole day.
Once exercise becomes regular, other lifestyle habits improve. Fit individuals rarely complain of sleep problems. In fact, one of the problems inherent in studying the effects of exercise on sleep among the fit population is that their sleep patterns are generally very good. The same goes for diet. Regular exercisers eat better and make better food choices, all of which lead to more energy at work and home.
As for the type of exercise that promotes the greatest good, Mr. O’Connor says the answer is moot. Whatever kind of physical activity turns your crank is good enough to boost your mood and energy level.
So bring a pair of walking shoes to work and go for a brisk stroll at lunch, play a game of road hockey with the kids after dinner or pick up a friend and head to the gym to play badminton or enjoy a yoga workout a few times a week.
Whatever your choice, keep in mind that exercise consistency is more important than intensity. Small bouts of moderate intensity exercise several times a week is all it takes to make a difference.
But don’t wait for some mysterious bolt of motivation to spur you into action. The inspiration to exercise has to come from within with knowledge that its rewards are only felt afterward.
So go ahead and be that guy or gal that bursts into the office every morning with energy to burn. It’s easier than you think.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. BDC provides entrepreneurs with financing, venture capital and consulting services. To find out more go to BDC.ca.
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