It Pays To Exercise

A little sweat can pay off in big ways.

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How's this for sweat equity: Women who worked out moderately for 20 to 30 minutes three or more times a week earned 9 percent more than those who didn't, according to one study cited in a Journal of Labor Research paper. Here are just a few of the ways exercise may be beneficial to your bottom line, based on the ever-building body of scientific literature that delves into the topic.

You're smarter.

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Think of that heartpumping elliptical trek as a snack break for your brain. The increased blood flow, chock-full of oxygen and nutrients, feeds your capacity to spawn brilliant ideas—and keeps your clients coming back for more. This past spring, a Psychological Medicine paper suggested that the longer people worked out regularly throughout their lifetime, the better their brains functioned.

You're happier.

A brisk walk may take just 20 minutes, but that serotonin boost may last for hours, making you more enthusiastic about your job (another meeting, yay!). That's an attribute higher-ups notice—and one they may compensate you for accordingly.

You've got more gusto.

A recent study on cancer survivors reported that those who returned to work while taking up an exercise regimen felt more energetic at their workplaces than those who didn't. Makes sense for healthy individuals, too: With more feel-good hormones pumping through your body, you may be less likely to shrink from challenging assignments. What boss wouldn't be impressed with that?

You're healthier.

A recent Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine paper further confirmed what we've suspected all along: Those who exercise less end up taking more sick days. And as Woody Allen once said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

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