Struggling to get work done in the office? Having a hard time dealing with unproductive workers? You’re not alone. According to a recent study by US-based research group The Conference Board, the Philippines ranks among the least productive Asian nations, trailing behind ASEAN neighbors like Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Whether you’re an employee pushing through low-energy workdays, or an employer trying to figure out how to deal with a seemingly unmotivated team, an unproductive business is an unhappy — and ultimately unsuccessful — one.
Today, there are countless productivity hacks to get you through the workday. Timing strategies like the Pomodoro technique, or new HR practices like forced vacation days have been proven to motivate workers. But ultimately, these are all ways to work around flagging energy levels.
If you really want to fight workplace burnout, the only real strategy is to boost those energy levels. And that’s through exercise.
A recent study out of Briston University found that employees that work out during the workday outperformed those that didn’t across various metrics.
Their respondents scored:

  • 21% higher on concentration,
  • 22% higher on finishing work on time,
  • were 25% less likely to take unscheduled breaks,
  • And felt 41% more motivated to work.

Physical activity significantly improves productivity, and workplaces need to take advantage of that. More than just a benefit for employees, fitness programs can vastly improve a business’s baseline.
So how can you build a healthier, more productive workplace? Here are three ways:

#1 – Stop making excuses

People can find an endless number of reasons to avoid incorporating exercise into their work day. “I have a deadline to meet,” or “I’ll just have a light lunch instead,” or “There’s always time after work for exercising.” (Spoiler alert: If you’re already finding excuses not to do it now, you’ll have even more time to find excuses not to do it later.)
Ultimately, it all boils down to how you view exercise. You don’t need to buy a one-year membership in a gym, or join the newest fitness class with your friends. Exercise can be as simple as taking a stroll around the block for five to 10 minutes. (Pro tip: Slowly increasing the intensity as you go also increases the endorphin boost you get afterwards!)

Strength in numbers

Exercising in a group is a great way to make exercise more enjoyable. When overcoming particularly difficult obstacles, you end up developing close relationships with the people you overcome those obstacles with.
Pushing each other to finish that last rep, or to run faster during a race, can really motivate each participant to not only finish the exercise, but improve over time. Not to mention, this is a great way to build camaraderie within the team. If your team learns how to work together properly through a high intensity workout, you can bet they’ll know how to make it through a similarly high-stress situation at the office.
When I ran a circuit-training class for employees from First Source Solutions, it was great seeing them playfully tease each other while they were doing their reps. Having that sense of play while exercising, really gave them a mental release from all the stress they were experiencing during their day.
Another nice takeaway for me was noticing how they motivated each other to start getting serious about their health. Pretty quickly, they were asking me questions on proper nutrition, exercises to do at home, and even recovery tips.

Knowing your ‘why’

Exercise is hard work. It requires dedication, and no small amount of motivation. So even if you have your entire office pushing you along, that focus and determination to get better still needs to come from you.
Having a clear goal in mind — in this case to improve your health and workplace productivity — is essential. When you get lazy to go to the gym or have the temptation to enjoy an extra cheat meal, taking a moment to recenter and go back to your ‘why’ can keep you on the right path.
So what are you waiting for? Get started on your fitness habit today, even with just a 10-minute stroll around the office block. Soon you’ll see amazing results for both your productivity and your health.

Ryan Fermin is an entrepreneur and fitness professional focusing on sports science, strength training, and conditioning. Find him on Instagram at @coach.ryfit.