Can a work-out help you find work?

Apr 16, 2010 by

Today I will be taking part in the BT Swimathon. My wife suggested it about 3 months ago when she saw that the event was to raise funds for the Marie Curie fund,  a charity that provides nurses for those suffering cancer. Like most families in the UK, cancer has cast a shadow over our lives and I was attracted to the idea.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I realised what I had committed to and, after feeling exhausted swimming 10 lengths, I recognized that swimming 200 lengths was going to be a bit of a mountain to climb. Since then I have been dipping into the pool early in the morning about 4 times a week and recently completed 160 lengths without too much difficulty. I hope it is not too unattractive to admit to a little self-satisfaction.

Why is that and where does this sense of satisfaction come from? Firstly I think all of us are, to a greater or lesser extent, goal orientated. Working towards and, hopefully, the achievement of a goal is in itself satisfying. I remember reading, in one of Stephen Covey’s books a while ago, that he sometimes adds a task that he’s already completed to a list in order to cross it off. I was reassured as, previously, I thought that I was perhaps the only person mad enough to do this.

Secondly, and please accept apologies for my lack of knowledge, I am told that exercise releases something called endorphins into the bloodstream which cause a positive feeling. My experience would lead me to believe this is the case.

I know that long-term redundancy is a worry for some people reading our blog, and I hope that a number of us may add to this conversation, but my mind was cast back to when I was unemployed for 3 months. Albeit a relatively short period of time, I do remember vividly how miserable I felt at the time. The correct word was miserable rather than depressed but nonetheless it was a tangible feeling, and one that I’m sure affected how I performed at interview and the way I felt about myself. I think one of the reasons this may happen is not only the worry about loss of income and status, but also the fact that we are robbed of our usual environment in which we are achieving goals – i.e. work.

To address this, a little while before interviews, I would go for a workout. Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not a fitness freak – but to do sufficient exercise to get the pulse racing for a period of time can create a feeling of well-being. A brisk walk may be more than enough for those of us who are less used to exercise. Obviously a sense of timing is appropriate: it is inadvisable to turn up for interview sweaty and out of breath, but the feeling of well-being created by exercise can last for a few hours.

Over a period of time the exercise became, for me, a regular routine rather than something that happened before interviews. Consequently the feeling of well-being was extended. I really do not mean to patronise, and I’m sure that many of you not working do exercise, yet there are a variety of events that may link your exercise to openings from which you can network.

The British Heart Foundation have many money-raising walks and bike rides across the country that attract people from all walks of life and, I’m sure, there are many other organisations that do the same sort of thing. I have been amazed how many times I have met people casually in these circumstances who, at other times, I may have given my right arm to talk to. Yesterday I was able to meet with a senior executive who I was introduced at a Tai Chi class.

It is perhaps worth mentioning as well that, quite naturally, redundancy is a worry. One of the problems with worries is that they have a sickening tendency to fill our minds and to then go on to fill every minute of our days. I often talk to people about waking up, if you’ve been able to sleep, with the feeling of a punch in the stomach. I hated it.

To do something for those who are worse off than yourself can help you to get things in proportion and can also give you a sense of achievement to reflect on in an interview situation.


  1. Melanie


    I totally agree. I deliberately stepped up my gym activities when I was made redundant. Endorphins are a wonderful natural high and as one of the great unemloyed, we need all the feelgood factors we can get. Besides, I can fantasise during the boxing exercise that I am punching the smug and/or patronising faces of all those DWP officials who support the current shocking level of support for redundant professionals.


  2. I absolutely agree

    Physical exercise of any sort, even just getting a bit of fresh air, can help in so many ways to reduce the feelings of stress and frustration that surface when unemployed or in an unsatisfactory job.

    Endorphins will reduce the negative feelings associated with stress and you’ll bathe your brain with them every time you go out for a stroll or bike ride. You don’t need to run a marathon to get an endorphin release, though of course the more exercise you do, the more you can eat of foods that are also natural endorphin releasers – like chocolate.

    Motivate yourself to train by setting yourself short, medium and long term fitness goals. Mass organized walking, running, biathlon and triathlon and other sports and fundraising events take place all across the country every weekend of the year. Train for one, and you’ll be able to talk about these and the skills you use to achieve your goals at interview, especially if you are part of a team or have helped to organized one yourself.

    Networking. There are lots of stressed out company directors out there and people often enter events as part of corporate teams. Talk to people as you go along and you’ll never know who you might meet. I once trained at gym for several months before I discovered I was eating up the miles every Wednesday night next to one of the HR directors of an international aero-engineering firm.

    People who are feel fitter and stronger inside often walk a bit taller, open out the shoulders, appear happier and that bit more confident. The way we appear to others is not determined by how we look like externally though, but ultimately how we feel about ourselves inside. Exercise will increase your confidence and interviewers will pick that up.


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