It's no secret that I'm a big fan of health and fitness: I boost my own productivity with exercise. My daily workouts help me detach from my computer, get my blood pumping and focus my energy on something positive; after I'm all finished and showered up, I often feel like I've taken a power nap in terms of mental clarity and focus.
Academic research supports the idea of boosting productivity with exercise: a study published earlier this year found that participants who exercised 2.5 hours during their workweek reported feeling more productive than their peers who worked straight through or took 2.5 hours off each week without exercising. They also took fewer sick days than their peers.
As with all things, though, there's a balance: Another study published in October found that highly stressed workers who exercised an hour a day experienced a drop in productivity because they were, as the researchers wrote, "essentially [coping] with high levels of stress by exercising more and working less." In other words, if you take an exercise break, make sure you actually return to work afterward.
I exercise at the midpoint of my workday, after an intense morning of work and before lunch. (At that point of the day, I'm typically starting to slow down in terms of productivity and focus, so this also enables me to procrastinate productively.) Then, after lunch, I'll attack the rest of my workday with aplomb.