Fit for work? How physical health shapes productivity at work

The brain is housed in the body. The mind and body are therefore not separate. What affects one affects the other. Therefore the question, “Does a tired or unfit body impact productivity?” is easily answered with a resounding, “Absolutely!”

Let’s take a look at what happens when we sit in front of a screen for about 7 hours each day, eat something from the cafeteria and then go home, exhausted:

The average cafeteria lunch in India, which is composed of rice, rotis, dal, a couple of veggies, occasionally some meat dish, and topped off with dessert gives you about 800 calories. Add to that, the vending machine coffee or tea every two hours: that sets you back by about 400 calories. Throw in that 5pm snack: 300 calories. That’s 75% of your permissible energy intake everyday, consumed almost mindlessly. In case you skip breakfast, and eat takeout for dinner, that’s the end of any opportunity for good nutrition. The impact: while your stomach is full after each meal, the body struggles to receive nutrients needed for functioning well. Layers of adipose tissue (fat) getting deposited under the skin is just the external sign of the start of internal systemic poverty. You are starving your body of the fuel needed to function normally.

Humans have been standing during their day, doing whatever counted as work, for thousands of years. With the advent of the desk job, the chair is soon becoming a lethal enemy. Some of the lasting ill-effects are: blood circulation in the body reduces, posture misalignment causes chronic issues like lumbar backache, stress headaches, eye strain and poor eyesight, insomnia, attention deficit, and a reduced ability to learn.

So, let’s look at the problem statement again: do you now think inactivity and bad nutrition choices have an impact on productivity?

Ask anyone who has recently initiated a fitness schedule: they will gush about a lift up in their mood, their productivity, their ideating capacity, and their ability to stay strong and calm during crises. This testimony can easily be backed up by science.

  • Exercise helps you
    • Develop cardiovascular, muscular and bone strength: the stronger you are, the longer you can be productive for
    • Generate more energy: you have enough energy to utilize at work and for people at home
    • Regular exercise staves off ‘lifestyle’ illnesses like heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc.
    • Increases your ability to learn and innovate
    • Gives your mood a boost: makes you a more genial and supportive colleague
    • Promotes better quality sleep: the better your recovery, the more you have to give to the next day
  • Mindful food consumption helps you
    • If what gets eaten gets measured, there is greater focus on food quality
    • You get a rich combination of nutrients, that will help you build stronger immunity, get a stronger body, have a more powerful mind
    • You become mindful of not just what you eat but when you eat it and how much – you self-regulate, and your body tells you when you are eating too little or too much.
    • You regulate and stay away from over indulgences and excesses of food and drink
    • You decrease risk of obesity, and replace fatty foods with healthy replacements.

Now, we’ve established that our physical health has a direct bearing on how we work. What next? Are you interested in finding out how we can make this a revolution in your organization? Would you like it to be one that benefits individuals and by extension the organization? We have the answers to a lot of these questions, and more, at the first ever Corporate Health Summit.


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