Does Exercise Really Affect Your Productivity Levels? I’m About to Find Out…
Everyone always harks on about how great exercise is.
It helps you sleep better, it improves your memory, it stops you from ageing as quickly, and it increases productivity.
Or so they say.
I’ve heard all these claims and always felt inclined to exercise more, but the truth is, I just don’t enjoy it.
Exercise is also one of the main things that triggers my asthma, so that just puts me off further.
I was fairly fit as a child, dancing and swimming regularly, but when I hit my teenage years and suffered from nasty period pains, I stopped going.
(Yes, I know it’s good for them, but when you’re a teenager and no painkillers help, are you going to choose exercise or bed?)
With the exception of a few brief stints of gym-going, I’ve been pretty unfit for the last ten years or so.
This wasn’t such a big deal when I was in my early twenties, but as I get older, I can feel my body starting to protest.
Back and other joint problems run in my family, so it would be preferable not to end up like that.
However, back in December, I pulled a muscle in my chest.
I pulled it so badly that I couldn’t get out of bed for two days.
I was in so much pain the doctor sent me for an ECG.
Since then, I’ve been doing the odd bits of weights and going on my cross-trainer, but I was afraid of upsetting my pulled muscle again (since I may have upset it by going on my cross trainer).
Weights are great, but they’re kind of boring.
The original plan was to take up jogging, but that soon turned into mostly using my cross trainer instead.
At the end of the day it’s still cardio, so does it really matter?
Supposedly exercise is good for anxiety, and in recent weeks, mine has been getting worse.
My skin also isn’t great right now.
And don’t even get me started on how I’m tired all of the time.
Exercise is supposed to help with all of these things and more.
And now we’re about to find out if it really does.
Accountability is a great motivational tool and it’s something I use frequently when writing books.
This time, I’m going to use it to encourage me to exercise.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to keep up my exercise regime and document how it affects my mood, my sleep patterns, and, most importantly, my productivity.
So here goes…
I’ve been feeling pretty on edge the last few days and haven’t been able to work out why.
It’s most likely stress because there’s a lot going on and a lot of it is out of my control.
After having a panic attack right before my depo injection (I’m afraid of needles), then reading an article about how HIIT is the best form of exercise, I decided Boyfriend and I needed to exercise more.
I am in no state to be doing HIIT any time soon, but I have to start somewhere.
That start consisted of intervals of power walking and jogging around the estate for ten minutes.
Our estate is quite hilly, so we tried to stay on the flat as much as possible.
After a couple of bursts of jogging, my body was already aching and full of stitches.
By the time we got home, my legs wouldn’t hold me and I collapsed on to the sofa.
Boyfriend probably could’ve jogged for longer, but I was done for. I’d already taken my inhaler 4 or 5 times.
Unsurprisingly, Boyfriend was miles ahead of me during the periods in which we jogged.
He walks part of the way to work each morning though whereas I drive, so he’s already fitter than me.
Music has a huge affect on my mood and productivity, so I decided to share what I listened to, too.
In Your Eyes—Kylie Minogue
We had a break after the first session, but I was surprised to find my body didn’t ache as much as I thought it would.
My main issue is how many times I have to take my inhaler when doing any form of cardio.
By the time I’ve gotten into some sort of exercise routine, I may well have no teeth left.
The weather sucked today, so I went on my cross trainer instead.
Did 10 minutes, followed by a 1 minute cool down that I’d forgotten my cross trainer adds on.
As I’m not used to it anymore, I kept the resistance low and focused more on speed.
Still didn’t go particularly fast, but I’m only on day two. Baby steps.
Move Your Body (album version)—Sia
David Guetta ft. Akon—Sexy Chick
Rogue Traders—Voodoo Child
We planned to go for a jog to Tesco today, but I woke up feeling like someone had set fire to my throat.
Settled for going on my cross trainer for ten minutes instead.
To shake things up and because we had to get up early anyway, I opted to exercise right after waking up.
It did make me feel mildly more awake than usual.
Now my body aches.
Day off tomorrow. It is Easter, after all.
Katy Perry—E.T. (album version)
Katy Perry—Part of Me
The germs have taken over.
Spent the day in bed watching true crime documentaries.
Fairly sure it’s a cold since I can’t stop sneezing or snivelling and can’t taste anything.
Last time I had a cold like this was when we went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Surviving on Vimto and barbecue food.
I didn’t want to ruin the routine, so did six minutes on the cross trainer then rewarded myself with a soak in the bath and an episode of iZombie.
Interestingly, I didn’t need my inhaler as much as I did last week.
Bruno Mars—Runaway Baby
Germs still have control, but not as much as they did.
Begrudgingly went on my cross trainer when I got home from work and noticed several things:
- I could breathe through my nose more easily than I have been able to all day
- My chest was tighter…probably because I forgot to take my inhaler before I started
- I didn’t feel the need for a nap when I got home
I’m terrible for falling asleep when I get home from work. As soon as we’ve had dinner, I lie my head down on the plush sofa and that’s me done for half an hour (sometimes longer).
After dinner today though I was raring to go.
Also, I was craving dinner even more than usual. (I had fish, chips, and mushy peas.)
The Donnas—Fall Behind Me
Couldn’t find a decent video of this one.
Hilary Duff—My Kind
After the first week…
Well, that’s it.
My first week of exercising over and done with.
And you know what?
I do feel different.
And not just because of my raging cold.
Most mornings I used to wake up feeling lethargic, but since taking up the new exercising routine, I do have more energy.
However, it was a bank holiday weekend, so that could also be the lack of an alarm forcing me out of sleep. Now that I’m back at work I’m intrigued to see how it affects my daily routine.
My asthma is a little better and I’m using my reliever inhaler less than I was when I first started.
There is a chance that some of my breathing difficulties when we went jogging could’ve been exacerbated by hay fever, but it’s also likely that it’s just because of how unfit I am.
My usually tense muscles already feel less tight, and, surprisingly, my body doesn’t hurt as much as it used to.
My muscles also don’t ache in that you’ve-exercised-really-hard kind of way either, so I”m going to take that as a sign that I’m not pushing myself hard enough.
For now, though, I want to focus on working out what my limits are and improving my asthma/muscle strength.
I’m planning to carry on building my current routine for another few days, then add in some weights at the weekend. I really don’t have any upper body strength, and that’s likely how I managed to pull my chest muscle so easily in December.
When I sped up on my cross trainer my chest did pull at one point, so for now I’m going to only work my arms when going slowly. Hopefully adding in the weights will help with how they cope on the cross trainer.
The main thing I’ve noticed a difference in is my anxiety—it’s A LOT better than it was. This was a change I noticed almost immediately.
The voice of anxiety in the back of my head has gone from shouting to talking quietly (not quite whispering).
I’m inclined to say that this alone is a reason for me to stay motivated to continue.
Decreasing my anxiety alone will improve my productivity, let alone when everything else (better sleep, more energy, improved memory, etc etc) is factored in.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!
I’ll be sharing my progress and observations over the next few weeks so stay tuned for the next instalment in a couple of weeks’ time!
If you have any comments/suggestions in the meantime, please do share them in the comments below!