Can Exercise Make Employees More Productive?

It’s difficult enough to set aside time in the workday to exercise, but it’s especially daunting when you have to worry about consistency. In fact, a study on NCBI by the University of Palermo states that sedentary lifestyles are common among working professionals. After all, employees rarely have the energy to do something else after work, and exercise is often the most tempting item to eliminate within the workday to make way for more urgent tasks.

But skipping out on exercise can affect productivity in the workplace when employees are not in top shape. In our post ‘Employer’s New Focus – Corporate Fitness’, we even explain that this is why companies are more interested in encouraging exercise among employees, and why it’s essential to make fitness more accessible in a changing professional landscape.

But how exactly does exercise make employees more productive?

Staying fit improves attendance
Lack of exercise has a negative impact on muscle strength, metabolism, and blood circulation among others, opening up the body to a wide range of health complications. This is crucial, especially when health issues and diseases are among the most common causes for employees taking time off from work. When more (and healthy!) people are present in the workspace, it facilitates smoother workflow, minimizes disruptions, and ensures a better quality of output.

Exercising helps manage stress
Stress can have negative effects when it comes to productivity in the workplace. An individual performing under stress might exhibit poor time management, stunted creativity, and recurring burnouts. Unfortunately, this will also deter the progress of their team.

Exercise helps ease stress by releasing endorphins—neurotransmitters that relieve pain and make you feel good. Maryville University’s discussion on exercise psychology states that when practiced over an extended period of time, even light exercises can help those struggling with depression and anxiety. Ensuring greater access to fitness can assist employees in addressing mental health concerns.

Physical activity increases cognitive performance
The short-term effects of exercising include an immediate boost in energy and focus which can help address lulls within the workday. But exercise also serves as protection for the brain’s long-term health.

Research from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center reveals that exercise increases blood flow to the anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus, which are regions in the brain important for memory function. For employees, exercise’s long-term benefits of increasing attention span, memory retention, and mental acuity can help with consistent and efficient performance in the workplace.

Overall health boosts morale
Exercise has great benefits for fostering a healthy workplace culture. Team-based exercises build rapport among coworkers which can positively influence how they work together professionally. Even physical activities done independently can boost an individual’s mood and allow them to participate in nurturing a better work environment.

Most importantly, showing employees that you care about their wellbeing makes them feel valued. This encourages better performance and increases staff retention.

These days jobs are becoming more remote, and the repercussions are taking a toll on employees’ physical and mental health. While it’s difficult to craft a work environment that is completely stress-free, increasing access to fitness is one of the best ways to ensure the health and raise collective productivity.

Written by Rafaela Jeanne

May 11, 2022

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