Four Ways That Exercise Promotes Employee Productivity

Productivity in the company depends a lot on the well-being of your employees. Aside from having a great company culture, an inspiring leadership team and a well-equipped office, your employees need to be at 100%, or they can’t give their very best. We’ve discussed before that employee health and wellness plays a crucial factor in their ability to do their jobs well; so how can we ensure they are in the best shape? The easy answer is exercise.

In the corporate world, companies have come to embrace employee wellness programs. The reduced absenteeism and attrition, improved medical costs and lower insurance premiums pay dividends for the bottom line.

Exercise Raises Concentration & Focus

Bristol University held a study on 201 employees in three different companies. By tracking employee performance on exercise days and non-exercise days, they found that employees did significantly better on exercise days.

  • Employees showed a 22% improvement for finishing their work on time.
  • There was a 25% improvement in working without unscheduled breaks.
  • 41% more employees reported feeling motivated to work during exercise days than those who did not exercise.
  • Concentration scores were 21% higher.

The companies in question had on-site exercise facilities, which facilitated the workout days for the employees. However, this doesn’t mean that companies need to have on-site gyms to reap the benefits. Offering gym memberships and allowances to employees as a benefit is a good start, as is motivating them and keeping them on track to ensure they utilize the opportunity.

Another method to easily start an exercise program is to schedule it within work hours. Japanese companies have long discovered the effectiveness of beginning the workday with a quick exercise session. This method came from their kaizen philosophy of continual improvement; in this case, investing in the employees themselves and making them the best they can be.

Companies like Honda took it one step further: instead of standard on-the-job training, Honda would put new assembly line workers through a two-week exercise program with classes that simulated the movements they needed to perform doing their job. If your company deals with work that requires manual dexterity, there is a lot to learn from the Honda approach.

Exercise Boosts The Immune System

The immune system is the ultimate line of defense against sickness. Any antigens – the bacteria, viruses and other unwanted invaders that cause illness – that find their way into the body trigger the immune system. This is important, as sick leaves and absenteeism are the biggest drains on office productivity.

Our bodies fight off the infection by releasing antibodies which hunt down these antigens and lock on to them. The body releases T Cells to take them out, fighting off the infection from the system.

A study published in the journal Front Immunol shows that exercise provides a huge boost to the immune system. An additional study from Brazil proved the same data.

  • Total T Cell production is increased by 90% to 97%.
  • Moderate physical activity such as walking for 180 minutes a week reduces inflammatory proteins by 75%.
  • Acute exercise increased the white blood cell count in the blood by 153% in younger subjects and 112% in older subjects.

The recommended duration for exercise is twenty minutes to thirty minutes. This induces the best immune system response.

Exercise Provides A Boost Of Energy

Getting tired at the job without a doubt lowers your productivity. Fatigue is a real problem for many employees. While it may seem counterintuitive, physical exertion actually gives you more energy.

A study in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics shows that exercise is actually the cure for fatigue. To reduce fatigue, you have to exercise more, not less. Energy is stored in the mitochondria; organelles in your body’s cells which convert oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the actual energy your body uses to power all the activities of your cells. The study shows that:

  • ATP is increased by 37% through a simple low-intensity aerobic exercise like walking.
  • Strength training exercise improved energy by 48%.
  • Twelve weeks of consistent light exercise reduced fatigue scores by 65%.

These results show that a little exercise actually helps improve one’s energy levels, making sure employees can be far more productive in the office.

Standing & Light Activity Improves Cholesterol, Blood Sugar & Fat Levels

Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to take the shape of constant motion and intense physical activity. In office settings, standing and light activity is actually the perfect exercise. A study in the European Heart Journal tracked 800 people as they went about their day.

  • Standing an extra two hours a day lowers blood sugar levels by 2%.
  • Blood fats and triglycerides were down by 11%.
  • HDL (“bad” cholesterol) was reduced by 6%.
  • Adding light physical activity would further improve the results to 11% for blood sugar improvement, 14% for triglycerides and an additional 11% decrease in body mass index.

What’s interesting here is that simply standing an extra two hours a day provides an array of health benefits, and it’s extremely easy to incorporate this change to an employee’s daily routine. With proper sit-stand desks, the transition is effortless and productivity is in fact improved, according to a study from last August 2018.

  • Occupational fatigue is reduced significantly at six months of usage by 68%.
  • Work engagement and dedication to work is improved by 66%.
  • Cognitive function improved by 10% after as early as three months of usage.

In Conclusion

Exercise is one of the key elements of good health. Based on the different studies available, the ideal ways to incorporate exercise into a company program are:

  • Daily morning exercise routines at the start of the shift.
  • Periodic walking events for employees, ideally with their families.
  • Sit-stand workstations to reduce sitting time and encourage two hours of standing a day.
  • Exercise facilities on-site or gym membership incentives for strength training.

Each of these action items can make a huge difference in your employee’s work performance, so consider implementing some or all of them. It’ll make a difference in the bottom line over time, and keep employees more engaged and dedicated to their work.

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