Balancing your work life with regular exercise is essential to stay healthy and happy. In this article I delve into the science behind work/exercise balance and health.
Let’s face it—the world is going digital. More and more employees are spending the day behind their screens, whether they work from home or in an office. It’s also a tough world out there at the moment. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be employed in post-pandemic times will be pulling extra shifts and catching up what was missed during lockdown.
Managers also face a unique challenge in these times. Managing from afar or while employees are trying to play catch-up puts you in an unenviable position. If you’re looking for a way to motivate and encourage your team of employees, you may be surprised to find that one of the most effective tools is also one of the simplest: exercise.
Modern Working Conditions
Our default view these days is of our living room/garden/office from behind a computer screen. Sometimes we change our view by checking social media instead of our work interface!
When you consider the scientific opinion that ‘sitting is the new smoking’, if there are benefits to the digital lifestyles we’re living, there are also significant costs.
Have we stopped to think about the impact this is having on our health?
Science has proven that exercise is crucial for our health and wellbeing. Even more research illustrates the positive effects that being out in nature and fresh air has on our immune systems and mindset.
But are we getting the work/exercise balance we need? And how is it affecting our performance in the office (or in front of our laptops)?
The Dangers of Working Conditions
A skewed work/exercise balance can be hard to even notice at first. If you are starting to notice any of the following signs and symptoms, you should evaluate your working life.
Too much sitting and too little moving is a problem on its own. Long hours behind a laptop can also lead to:
- Overeating and weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Eye strain
- Neck and back pain
- Poor posture
- Brain fog
- Disrupted sleep
Each of these effects can contribute to larger problems, even ending in disease or death in severe cases. A decrease in physical health also leads to poor performance in the office.
The impact of the modern working environment is perhaps even harder on employees’ mental health. Common ailments include:
- Fear of losing their job
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Mental fatigue
This too can lead to a significant reduction in productivity, which can spill over and have an effect on other members of the team. The effects are far-reaching!
Keep in mind that these things can affect managers too. But in an office setting, motivation often needs to come from above. Simply setting plans in motion can improve your own mental and physical health too.
The Case for Exercise
You may wonder why encouraging your employees to get fit would work any better than offering them a bonus or a corporate gift.
Short answer: a bonus is for now—taking care of your health is for life.
Translated into work-speak: A bonus will make your employees slightly happier and more productive for a week or so. Encouraging and helping them to build healthy habits will foster a sense of self-confidence, improve their mental and physical health, and in turn, lead to a much more permanently happy employee!
Here are some of the effects exercise has on a person:
It goes without saying that introducing some physical activity into your daily life will have some positive physical effects. If done consistently and paired with a healthier diet, results may include:
- Weight loss or weight management
- Increased cardiovascular strength
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol
- Controlled blood sugar
- Stronger bones
- Improved flexibility and mobility
Don’t underestimate the effect improved physical health can have on employees’ work ethic!
There’s more than just physical benefits to regular exercise. Mental health effects include:
- A reduction in anxiety
- Improved depression symptoms
- Higher level of optimism
- Increased self-esteem
- Sense of belonging (in a group context)
What Can Managers Do About It?
Being in a managerial position can be hard. You are expected to be the rock for others to lean on, encourage your employees, and deal with your own feelings, worries, and health on the side.
The bonus is that motivating your employees can help give you something to work towards and help inspire you too!
If you’re interested in introducing some kind of exercise to your team as a means of improving morale, builder a tighter-knit group, and improving everyone’s health together, here are a few ideas:
Do A Group Park Run
Park runs are everywhere, suitable for runners of all levels and ages (employees can bring their families along), and a lot of fun!
Completing the run and having a coffee or breakfast after is a great way for the team to get to know each other better, get fit, and support each other’s fitness journey.
Arrange A Round Of Golf
As long as everyone goes in with the right attitude, a round of golf could be fun for beginners and advanced golfers.
If anyone is intimidated by the thought, you can always start with mini golf!
Go Hiking As A Group
Hiking is an amazing way to get in touch with nature and get the blood flowing at the same time. Arrange a hike with a view for an even more interesting experience.
Play Frisbee In The Park
Looking for something less formal and more chilled? If one of you has a Frisbee, you can set up a bit of a competitive league. All you need is some time and a park!
Create A Fitness Challenge
To add a bit of friendly competition and intensity to the workplace exercise routine, create an office fitness challenge!
This can be as simple as posting a daily exercise selfie in the work IM group, or something more complex involving stats and records.
Set up regular, small rewards to keep the interest going!
In a time where finances are touchy and many businesses are fighting to survive, there is no need to resort to expensive corporate gifts to encourage employees. Something as simple as incorporating exercise into the working day can have a powerful effect.
When most employees are working from home, this could serve the dual purpose of getting them away from the screen and moving and having some much-needed interaction with others they may not see as often anymore.
There is nothing to lose by giving it a try! Organize a Sunday round of golf, a team soccer friendly, or do a park run together. Get creative!
Jordan Fuller is originally from Omaha, Nebraska. He has dedicated his life to the great game of golf, and in return, it has given him challenges that always push him to be better both on and off the course and finally, unique adventures that only this sport can provide. Jordan is a blogger for Golf Influence.