How Physical Activity Improves Productivity, Creativity and Focus

We all know that physical activity is good for our bodies, but exercise is also good for mental health because it has a significant impact on brain chemistry, emotional well-being and cognitive function, contributing to a more positive and resilient mental state.

While we know it can improve our mood, there’s also a growing body of research focusing on how it also boosts productivity, creativity, memory and focus. In fact, a recent study for the Harvard Business Review found that physical activity actually generates a resource bank that people draw on the following day while at work, helping them to be more productive, energetic and creative.


Boosting Productivity

Physical activity is an important factor in maintaining high levels of productivity at work or elsewhere. Regular exercise can lead to improved alertness and energy levels, both of which are essential for being productive. We also know that exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which can sharpen awareness and ability to think creatively. 

Amazingly the secretion of the protein "brain-derived neurotrophic factor" (BDNF), which creates new neurons in the brain and boosts cognitive abilities, is actually triggered by exercise. BDNF plays a role in neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to adapt and change over your lifetime. Physical activity also raises your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, leading to improved cognitive function.


Concentration, Focus and Memory

Finding a quiet room, removing distractions… We all know there are things we can do to improve our ability to concentrate and even to improve our memories. Physical activity isn’t always top of the list, but perhaps it should be.

Exercise is great for brain health because it stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in the brain as well as new brain cells. Studies have actually suggested that the part of the brain which controls memory and thinking is larger in people who exercise regularly.

Research also tells us that peoples’ task focus is improved the day after physical activity. And because exercise is a great way of helping us to deal with stress, releasing feel-good endorphins and helping us reduce our "fight or flight" reactions to stress, you’re more likely to be able to focus on the task in hand.


Higher Energy

It often comes as a surprise to people who start to move more, but exercise actually gives you more energy.

Moving your body creates more mitochondria in your muscle cells, which process glucose and oxygen to fuel your body – so having more of them boosts your body’s energy supply. Physical activity also increases oxygen circulation, powering your body even more.

Research also tells us that physical activity improves people’s vigour, or their energy and vitality, the day afterwards, supporting improved information processing, attention and concentration.



Have you ever noticed how ideas tend to flow more freely during a walk or jog? You're in good company. A growing body of evidence suggests that physical movement can significantly enhance creativity.

"Even a brief session of aerobic exercise can spark creative thought," explains Dr. Chong Chen from Yamaguchi University in Japan, who authored a comprehensive review on the subject. Research consistently finds that it's the divergent, 'thinking outside the box' type of creativity that benefits most from exercise. Various studies exploring the effects of activities ranging from dancing and cycling to stair climbing and running all report a boost in creative thinking post-exercise.

So, when you're seeking a burst of creativity or facing a tough problem, consider taking a short, active break to refresh your mind and unlock your creative potential.


Sleep Quality

30 mins of moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise in a day can help you fall asleep more quickly, improve your sleep and its quality, as well as reduce time awake in the night. Regular moderate-intensity physical activities are the most effective.

There is a strong relationship between sleep and physical and mental health. We all know that not getting enough sleep can have a serious effect on our ability to function and that a good night's sleep is the best way to recover after a tiring day.

But sleep isn’t just critical to recovery, it’s vital for maintaining cognitive skills including good communication, good memory and creativity.


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For all these reasons, we know that cognitive function is improved when you get moving, enhancing attention span, concentration, and overall productivity whether at work or elsewhere.

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