“We’re our own worst enemies. You doubt yourself more than anybody ever will. If you can get past that, you can be successful.” -Michael Strahan

It is rare to find a successful person that doesn’t include some kind of physical activity into their weekly schedule. Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook all incorporate exercise to maximize their mental sharpness throughout the day. In fact they all credit exercise as a component of their success! There are many ways exercise carries over into your career and below you will find the top 3.

1. Exercise Helps Break Bad Habits and Teaches Discipline

Waking up early and resisting the temptation to hit the snooze bar to workout before work can be extremely difficult. On the same side of the coin, so is getting yourself to workout after a long day of work. Trying to combat the urge to crash in front of some good ol’e Netflix with some feel good comfort food in your favorite sweats is easier said than done. It’s easy to think of an excuse such as, “I need to sleep because I have a long day ahead of me” or, “I deserve to relax because I’ve worked a long day”, but have you thought about what you need? Have your excuses turned into bad habits?

It is often hard to really know what your body needs and becoming comfortable or distracted by work can allow you to lack discipline. That is where exercise comes into play. Exercise is the connection between your mind and body, making them complete. People who exercise regularly develop brain skills, such as memory and the ability to cope with stress. Improving these mental health skills allows you to be more aware of your deeper needs, resulting in healthier choices.

2. You Will Benefit from Goal Setting and Time Management

It is common sense that having a plan will lead to a more productive day. However, most people do not include exercise as a part of this plan! Positive patterns and goal setting are major keys to setting yourself up for success.

Writing out a plan for yourself is the first step to maximizing productivity and hitting your goals inside and outside of the workplace. When you get things done, it creates motivation. Seeing results fuels confidence and the mental switch from “I Can’t” to “I Can” . This allows you to overcome obstacles and to think bigger so you can move beyond the limitations you previously set for yourself.

Everyone is busy. Everyone has work and things to do outside of the work. However, you need to get your priorities straight. Even on busier days, setting as little as 20 minutes aside for a quick HIIT workout or a walk, puts you one step closer to your goals. Staying disciplined to an exercise schedule will carry over into the workplace and make it easier for you to hit your career goals as well.

3. You Will Learn to Work Smarter and Improve Cognitive Function

As stated by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health,
“Physical activity is associated with enhanced cognitive processing, helping you to stay more focused on tasks. Exercise also stimulates sections of the brain that aid memory function, to release a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which rewires memory circuits so they work better.”
Work can get frustrating. Negative co-workers, gossipy environments, yo-yoing stress levels and mental exhaustion can build up over time. It is easy to fall victim to this build up of emotions which is why having that one on one time with yourself can be a mental game changer. Exercise is very important for cognitive function because it causes immediate increases in levels of key neurotransmitters, including serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine and endorphins, that are often depleted by anxiety and depression.

Confidence derived from daily exercise can help you have a better attitude and a positive work-life balance. Your self-esteem increases, you are sharper and more positive and negotiating small conflicts becomes easier. Creativity and social skills will also improve as you start to feel more confident and positive day-to-day. It is no coincidence that the most innovative and most successful businesses in the world such as Google, Pfizer, Apple, Morgan Stanley etc. have exercise facilities in their office buildings making it easy for employees to work exercise into their daily routine.

When it comes to exercise there are many different routines and ways to get it done. Figure out what works best for you and make a plan. Commit to your plan and stick with it! Your physical and mental health are extremely interconnected and will lead you to feel better about yourself and the work you’re doing. Not only will you become healthier but this will ultimately lead to success. Get up and get moving!