Now may be about the time that many new year resolutions are starting to wane. Maybe you’re not seeing results, maybe you have lost your purpose, and motivation. In which case, don’t beat yourself up about it. Or, maybe you’re killing it, in which case, nice work! Either way, today I want to give you a bit of motivation, in the form of knowledge!
Specifically, I want to talk about exercise. Of course there are many reasons why exercise is good for your health. Everyone knows that. BUT, exercise can also be good for your career! Below I’m going to mention a few studies that show the effects of exercise on work – and all you have to do to take advantage of these benefits is to keep fit and have fun.
1. Exercise Makes You a Better Leader (link)
- So technically, research shows that exercise makes you less of a bad leader: Researchers found that exercise was linked with a decreased likelihood that a leader would engage in what is called abusive supervision – an abusive supervisor is one who demeans, belittles, verbally harasses… basically everything negative but physical aggressions. The authors found that workplace stress increased abusive supervision, but when leaders also exercised, the effects of stress were cancelled out. In this study, exercise was measured by the number of hours per week a leader exercised – it didn’t capture the type of exercise, just that it was being done.
2. Exercise Buffers the Negative Effect of Workplace Stress on Your Health
- In some of my own (currently unpublished) research using a national longitudinal sample, my colleagues and I found that over the course of 10 years, there was a negative relationship between workplace stress and overall health (e.g., sickness, disease, mental health). This finding isn’t new, but what we also found that when a person exercised, like in the first article, the negative effect wasn’t as strong. Exercise weakened the negative effects of stress on our health. Exercise was measured by the energy expenditure of exercise – very similar to the duration calculation in the first study, but also incorporating some measure of vigour.
- Another study showed similar findings for the effects of exercise on the relationship between depression and work burnout (here).
3. Exercise, in the form of Yoga, Reduces Aggression & Counterproductive Workplace Behaviors (link)
- Research from India shows that the practice of yoga translates to positive outcomes in the workplace. In an experimental study (where some people were in a “yoga” group, and others were not – i.e., a “control” group), it was shown that those in the yoga group were less aggressive, and performed fewer counterproductive workplace behaviors (a counterproductive work behavior is an umbrella term for any behaviour that interferes with the achievement of an organization’s goals, for example, stealing, interpersonal conflict, or bullying).
So if exercising for your health wasn’t enough motivation, maybe knowing that exercise can improve your functioning at work, and your interpersonal relationships with your co-workers, will. Take it a step further, and encourage your employees to exercise, create a challenge with your team to stick to an exercise plan, or have your company bring in a yoga instructor. These are relatively cheap solutions that could have a major impact on you, your employees, and your organization.