Exercise Right to be a better worker, a new study finds

Struggling to get through you work day? Drowning in deadlines? Or really feeling that 3pm (or 10am) slump? Maybe it’s time to log off and get moving, a new study finds.


New research finds that busy professionals who exercise during the day feel better and more productive.

A study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine, found that workers who spent 30–60 minutes at lunch exercising reported an average performance boost of 15 percent. Sixty percent of employees said their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on the days they exercised. Workers in the study were less likely to suffer from post-lunch energy dips after exercising and also reported improvements in mood.

Find out how to Exercise Right for Office Workers. Or take the Exercise Right quiz to find out how to Exercise Right for your uniqueness.


The study


British researchers studied about 200 workers at three sites: a university, a computer company and a life insurance firm. Workers were asked to complete questionnaires about their job performance and mood on days when they exercised at work and days when they didn’t.

Participants were free to engage in the physical activity of their choice. Most of them spent 30 to 60 minutes at lunch doing everything from yoga and aerobics to strength training and playing pick-up games of basketball.


Exercise improved work performance


Six out of 10 workers said their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on days when they exercised. The amount of the overall performance boost was about 15 percent, according to the findings, which were presented at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.


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Exercise increased stamina


Workers in the study also indicated they were less likely to suffer bouts of afternoon fatigue known as the “post-lunch dip” on days when they exercised. “It’s the paradox of exercise,” says study author Jim McKenna, a professor of physical activity and health at Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K., “to get energy you have to expend some.”


Exercise improved mood (and how employees treated their clients and each other)


Participants also rated their moods in the morning and afternoon. And as expected, exercise improved mood, a finding supported by other research, says McKenna. “There’s a very strong mood effect with exercise,” he says, adding that physical activity can be both energizing and tranquilizing.

During focus group discussions, many of the participants said exercise seemed to help them deal better with the demands and pressures on the job. “After exercise, people adopted a more tolerant attitude to themselves and to their work,” says McKenna. “They were more tolerant of their own shortcomings and to those of others.” They didn’t lose their temper as much, for example, or yell at coworkers or slam the phone, he notes.


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So, what exercise works best?


It doesn’t matter – any will do!

According to the study the type of exercise didn’t seem to matter. “We could find no difference according to length of exercise or duration or intensity,” McKenna says. “You still got the effect no matter what you did.” Click for examples on how to Exercise Right at Work.


Exercise Right At Work workplace health programs results

Exercise Right’s top tips to exercise right at work

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  1. Turn your commute into a workout – why not swap the high-heels for trainers and turn your daily commute into a workout. Do you catch the bus to work? Tomorrow, make sure you get off the bus a few stops earlier… and WALK! Or otherwise why not strap on the helmet and ride your bike to work?
  2. Turn your lunch break into a workout – get together with your colleagues and organise a walk at lunchtime. A fun way to catch-up out of the office and release some work pressures too.
  3. Walk & Talk! Schedule a “walking meeting” for 30 minutes instead of booking your usual meeting room. Walk and talk and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
  4. Take the stairs – wherever possible, use the stairs. Keep a reminder near your computer to use the stairs as much as possible.


For more tips on how to Exercise Right at Work, try our Mini Desk Workout to Exercise Right at WorkDownload our Exercise Right at Work Office Exercises eBook here.