Want a productivity boost? Try exercise. Don’t have time? Make time, while you’re at the office. And if you think your boss won’t approve, share this latest research.
A recent study showed that employees can use work time for exercise or other health promoting measures and maintain the same level of productivity, or higher at work. Employees who spent 2.5 hours a week being physically active were more satisfied with the quantity and quality of their work, reported increased work ability and took less sick time than employees who did not engage in physical activity.
By using work time for exercise, employees can also improve their work-life balance because their workout time isn’t squeezed into already busy personal/family time. Also in a recent study, for employees who were more physically active, job burnout was less likely to develop into depression. In this study, the best benefits were achieved by people who exercised 4 hours a week.
Some exercise is better than none though, so don’t beat yourself up if you can only fit in 20 minute workouts three days a week. It’s better to have a little regular exercise than to crash and burn on a workout routine you can’t maintain, or avoid it completely. Schedule your exercise breaks on your calendar so you have the time in your day reserved and can schedule work meetings around it. If you plan to exercise mid-day, try taking a class like Pilates where you are less likely to work up an intense sweat. This way you can just change your clothes and get back to work, fitting in more intense cardio or sweat sessions over the weekend.
There are many shortcuts you can take to fit a good workout into a 30-minute break. What works best for you will depend on your personal preferences, commute and what’s available at your workplace. The physical activity you are able to fit in can be shaped around whether you have an onsite gym (or one close by), a safe place to jog or if your organization offers fitness classes onsite.
You could try fitting your workouts in first thing in the morning, either before commuting to work, or after your get to the office. Not only would you avoid the crowded locker room during lunchtime, but you could also accomplish your exercise goals first thing in the morning, which is a huge morale boost. Or, you could leave the office 30 minutes early to fit your workout in before you go home – but this is harder to stick with because of those inevitable things that come up. Whatever you decide, here are a few tips for how to get the most out of those 30 minutes.
- Pack a well-organized gym bag the night before
- Keep an easy snack and filled water bottle in your gym bag so you can munch on the go and stay hydrated
- Do everything you can to get ready to exercise while you are walking to your gym/workout class. Example: Take off and store your watch in your gym bag, put your hair up, grab your ID badge and prime your iPod
- Try dry shampoo instead of washing your hair, or try washing your face and slathering on deodorant instead of taking a full shower to save time
- Pack a healthy lunch the night before so you know you have a nutritious lunch waiting for you when you’re done with your workout
If your manager is still not supportive of employees taking time out of the workday to exercise, you may want to suggest that s/he make time for it themselves – in another recent study, exercise was shown to buffer the negative effects of supervisor stress on their relationship with subordinates, and weaken the link between stress and abusive behavior toward employees. Not only can physical activity improve employees’ health and reduce the organization’s healthcare costs, but it can also empower employees to be more productive and improve manager-subordinate dynamics.
Devoting time during regular work hours to exercise can lead to higher productivity – even without adding extra time at the end of the day. This is because exercise fuels your brain and helps you be more productive. Employees who make the time for regular physical activity in a way that makes the most impact for their personal fitness level will reap the benefits. Managers who encourage employees to be healthy while at work and allow those who are interested to slip away for a jog or weight lifting class will likely find employees return to work energized, focused and more productive overall.