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Exercise Your Way To Career Success

Chris JordanBy Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology at the Human Performance Institute Division of Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company

If I asked you to list ways to enhance your career, you might include mentors, continuing education, volunteering for a project and networking. What often doesn’t make the list, but should, is exercise. Many women in the workplace are in a human energy crisis. When we are fatigued we can become disengaged and our performance can decrease, whether at work or at home. That’s the problem and exercise can be an antidote. Here’s why: Physical activity means increased energy, which can lead to higher performance and success.

At Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute we work with thousands of “corporate athletes,” women and men who have to perform at a high intensity. We teach them to manage and increase their energy levels so they can consistently perform at their best. A key component to increased energy is managing and investing in physical activity.

Think of physical activity like a bank account: In the short term you manage the money you have, but invest to increase it over the long term. Microbursts are one way to manage your energy in the short term, where “micro” represents a small—as little as 1 to 2 minutes—physical activity investment and “burst” characterizes the disproportionately higher energy return. What this does, besides get you up from sitting at a desk, is break up the constant mental exertion, help you feel more alert and allow you to recover from one task while being focused on another. You end up coming back to your work a little sharper mentally. View your day as a series of sprints, not a marathon, and break up portions of work with some strategic movement such as taking a few flights of stairs, walking briskly to the restroom, stretching with deep breaths or kicking off your heels and doing some jumping jacks.

More intense exercise is an investment in yourself and your energy reserves. A common problem for many working people is that as career trajectories take off, they forget to take time for health and fitness. Then the vicious cycle begins: They compromise their health for work or home, but then don’t have the energy capacity for top performance at either place. When you exercise, you not only increase your health and fitness levels, but also bank away energy in your account. I know what many reading this are thinking: Where am I getting the time to exercise? I suggest that you think about exercise in terms of quality, not quantity. It’s not necessary to go on an hour run; you can do 20 minutes of intervals for similar benefit. Fast and effective tools such as the Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout can help, and since you use your own body weight, no special equipment is necessary.

Energy is the answer to many of our work-life balance challenges. Microbursts can help you to manage the energy that you have, and exercise is the investment in yourself for long-term energy gains. Simple, yes, but it will take some planning and effort. However, you and your career are worth it.