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Employee Health Research Shows Regular Exercise Prevents Mental Deterioration
A new research on employee health found that employees who take the time to engage in physical activities have lower risk for mental health deterioration. Dr. Sharon Toker of Tel Aviv University along with Dr. Michael Biron on the University of Haifa spearheaded the research on employee burnout and depression. According to the study, employees who engaged regular exercise (4 hours per week) had greater chance of avoiding a deterioration of mental state.
Work stresses are real
According to Dr. Toker, the connection between depression and burnout is huge. Furthermore, he explains that depression is associated with a mood disorder while burnout is associated with physical deterioration. Moreover, burnout can also affect the cognitive and emotional state of the person and thus have a pivotal effect in performance.
The research conducted by Drs. Toker and Biron was initially conducted to determine the relationship of depression and burnout. In fact it showed that an increase in depression is associated with increased job burnout. What makes their research standout is that it went further to test the person’s physical activity.
How it affects employers
According to both researchers, exercise does not only fight obesity but it also helps improve overall health. As such, it benefits the employer to encourage regular physical exercise since it can reduce absenteeism. Likewise, a healthy and active lifestyle can improve productivity as it influences the mental health of the employees.
The research clearly showed that depression and burnout rates were highest among employees who did not have adequate physical activities. According to their findings, a minimum of 150 minutes a week of physical activities was necessary to show significant improvement in depression and burnout rates. Participants in the research who engaged in at least 240 minutes of physical activity per week did not show significant effect of depression or burnout.
The research clearly points to the importance of physical activities in order to fight obesity and more importantly mental health of employees. What is more important to ponder on is what companies do to foster better health among its employees. Some of the programs I have encountered that addresses the physical health of employees are as follows;
- Free or subsidized gym membership
- Encouraging clubs that focus on physical health of employees
- Weekly activities sponsored by the company
- Providing exercise equipment for employees within the company premises
- Flexible work hours to encourage physical activities and exercise
Of course such programs can cut into the company’s budget. However, encouraging fit and healthy lifestyle among the workforce increases productivity in the long run. Work stress is a reality that employers have to contend with on a daily basis. One long term solution to battle high rates of depression and burnout is a healthier lifestyle among employees.