Monday, 11 February 2013

Exercise & Productivity

Everyone knows that exercise can improve your healthExercise is of course a key part of managing your weight and maintaining healthy hearts, lungs and other bodily systems.  But did you know that exercise can make you more productive? 
If you are a desk jockey for more than 8 hours a day research shows that regular exercise either before work or at lunch time can show significant improvements in concentration, performance, tolerance and energy levels and at the same time decrease stress, repetitive task injuries and low back pain.  Now what employer wouldn't be happy with that scenario!
Adding a regular exercise regime into your day will help keep you mentally sharper throughout your entire life.  As we age, unfortunately are body generates fewer brain cells, a process known as 'neurogenesis'.  However some early research on mice suggested that exercise helps to slow down this process.  In other words, people who exercise in their 50's, 60's and 70's may have more brain cells than their sedentary counterparts thus giving them a major advantage in the workplace.
An article published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management is the first of its kind to prove that exercise during work hours has both mental and physical benefits.  
Jo Coulson, Research Associate in the University's Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences said:  'Our statistical results were very important.  On exercise days people's mood significantly improved after exercising.  Mood stayed the same on days they didn't, with the exception of people's sense of calm which deteriorated'. 
'Critically workers performed significantly better on exercise days and across all three areas we measured, known as mental-interpersonal, output and time demands'.  
The study group was made up of 200 university staff and employees from a Pensions firm and an IT firm.  Each employee completed a questionnaire about their mood, workload and performance on days when they exercised.  The data was compared to answers from days participants opted not to do exercise.  The workers who were already in the habit of exercising, chose their own mode, frequency and intensity of workout.  Most used a gym and did classes, weight training or team sports. 
The key findings were:
  • 72% reported improvements in time management on exercise days compared to non exercise days.
  • 79% said mental and interpersonal performance was better on the days they exercised.
  • 74% said they managed their workload better.

The questionnaire scores were 27% higher on exercise days in categories such as dealing calmly with stress and 41% higher for feeling motivated to work.

Those who exercised were also 21% higher for concentration on work, 25% for working without unscheduled breaks and 22% higher for finishing work on time. 

The study also begs the question whether employers can afford not to be encouraging active breaks.  The suggestion is that employers who are ahead of the game in offering relevant on-site facilities actually get less from their employees on days that they don't exercise. 

The evidence is compelling.  If you are an employer out there reading this and want to get more productivity out of your workforce, then a 30 - 45 minute circuit based training during a lunch hour may well be worth considering.  Please use the link to make contact to talk about specifics or leave me a comment.

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