Use Aerobic Exercise to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity at Work
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Use Aerobic Exercise to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity at Work

Exercise is great for every lifestyle, but you may not be tapping into all the rewards that it has to offer.

Too often, we approach aerobic exercise with the wrong attitude. The wrong attitude can vary, but such a mindset is characterized by phrases like, "I'm just going to survive ten minutes of this and go home," "I can't wait to finish this so I can go home, eat potato chips, and watch TV," or, "If I can just go out today and get a workout in, I won't make myself do it the rest of the week." The common denominator behind most wrong attitudes is negativity, and this is not surprisingly characterized by thoughts that contain phrases full of negative words.

In reality, the things that make exercise rewarding are effort and motivation. It is all a sort of self-fulfilling cycle: if you go exercise with a bright attitude and are intent upon having a good time, you are going to! This positive thought process encourages your body to experiment and push harder, because being positive increases confidence and willingness to push harder. Thus, the harder you push, the harder your body lets you push (granted, this does wear off after a certain point in time). It is this cycle of motivation, effort, and bodily responsiveness that leads to a further reward: endorphins.

Endorphins are the body's pat on the back for a job well done. These naturally-occurring opiates are released when (or after) the body is pushed hard, or harder than normal. Endorphins literally give you a high depending upon the quantity that rushes into your bloodstream and brain (thus the so-called "runner's high"), and the more effort you put into a workout, the more likely you are to experience this sensation. Endorphins occur because exercise is a painful thing, and without these compounds to mask the pain until it wears off, you might not be convinced to do it twice. Each person describes the sensation differently, but for myself, I feel the effect of endorphins as a rush of motivation near the end of a workout that fades to a pleasant glow for 1 or more hours afterward depending upon the strength of it.

It is this rush of endorphins that can improve your work through the entire day. Studies show that working out in the morning can improve mood and alertness (especially when accompanied by breakfast). Personally, I have found that working out during the day makes me quite a bit hungrier a lot sooner, and this is probably owing to the boosted metabolism resulting from the exercise.

If you go exercise determined to just "make it," you will probably not feel inclined to push yourself, and you may never break the threshold of reward that your body has for you. Endorphins are naturally relaxing, and a good morning workout can really make the workday fly on by.

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