Exercising at work and self-reported work performance

Article (PDF Available)inInternational Journal of Workplace Health Management 1(3):176-197 · September 2008with4,365 Reads
DOI: 10.1108/17538350810926534
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the interplay of workplace exercising on self-reported workplace performance. Design/methodology/approach – A mixed methods design combined a randomised cross-over trial with concurrent focus groups. Three workplaces (two private companies, one public service organisation) were purposefully selected for their provision of on-site exercise facilities, size (>250 employees) and large proportion of sedentary occupations. Two mood diary questionnaires were distributed to employees exercising on-site only. Order of questionnaire completion was randomised: self-selected exercise-day (ExD) or no-exercise day (NExD) first. Exercise specifics (duration, intensity, mode) and ExD mood (pre-/post-exercise) were recorded. On NExD, mood was measured early and late in the working day. A 15-item work performance grid was completed at day-ends. Three on-site focus groups were held concurrently to explore performance-related topics. Findings – Among 201 volunteer respondents (67 per cent female, mean age 38.2 years), mood improved on ExD, pre-to-post exercise (all p<0.01). Performance indicators were higher on ExD, versus NExD (all p<0.01), independent of exercise specifics and workload. Positive changes in performance outcomes were almost exclusively linked to changes in mood. Inductive analysis of focus groups revealed 13 (of 17) themes exhibiting positive outcomes. Employee tolerance and resilience were central to the subjective findings. Research limitations/implications – The naturalistic, dual-paradigm study demonstrated that workday exercise can improve white-collar workers' mood and self-reported performance on days when they exercise at work over days when they do not. There are clear implications not only for employee wellbeing, but also for competitive advantage and motivation by increasing opportunities for exercising at work. Originality/value – This is one of the few studies that addresses the acute effects of exercise in the workplace in the same people. Self-rated productivity effects attributable to exercising during the working day were strongly mediated by changes in mood. Statistical power is amplified within the cross-over design.


    • "Additionally, two recent studies showed no effects on productivity, despite improved fitness (Gram et al., 2012; Pedersen et al., 2009). However, other studies show effects (Coulson et al., 2008; Mills et al., 2007; von Thiele Schwarz and Hasson, 2011). Moreover, reviews investigating the link between health and productivity have concluded that employee ill health is associated with decreased productivity, with PE often identified as an important determinant (Schultz et al., 2009; Schultz and Edington, 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects on fitness outcomes of a work-based physical exercise (PE) intervention among women working in older people’s care. In addition, effects on productivity-related outcomes including work ability and sickness absence were studied. Design/methodology/approach – Employees participated in a one-year intervention involving two one-hour weekly mandatory PE sessions. The intervention (n=13) was compared to referents (n=12). Fitness tests and self-reports on work ability and sickness absence were obtained before the intervention (T1), six months into the intervention and after 12 months. Findings – Fitness test scores (corrected for age and weight) increased significantly over time in the intervention group but not among referents. Perceived exertion decreased significantly in the intervention group and increased significantly among referents. For self-rated work ability and sickness absence, no significant time or group differences emerged. Research limitations/implications – Further research on larger groups of women is needed to delineate the effects of PE on self-rated productivity and performance. Practical implications – Work-based PE programs can improve fitness among women in older people’s care. Social implications – With previous research having primarily focussed on men, this study shows that women in blue-collar jobs also may benefit from taking part in work-based PE programs. Originality/value – This paper makes an important contribution through its focus on the effects of a work-based PE program on fitness and possible relations to productivity, among employed women.
    Article · Mar 2015
    • "A review suggests that fitness intervention programs decrease sickness absence [19]. The first study that uses a within-person experimental design found that employees’ self-rated job performance and mood were higher on days they exercised in the company gym than on days they did not [20]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a 12-month-long experiment in a financial services company to study how the availability of treadmill workstations affects employees' physical activity and work performance. We enlisted sedentary volunteers, half of whom received treadmill workstations during the first two months of the study and the rest in the seventh month of the study. Participants could operate the treadmills at speeds of 0-2 mph and could use a standard chair-desk arrangement at will. (a) Weekly online performance surveys were administered to participants and their supervisors, as well as to all other sedentary employees and their supervisors. Using within-person statistical analyses, we find that overall work performance, quality and quantity of performance, and interactions with coworkers improved as a result of adoption of treadmill workstations. (b) Participants were outfitted with accelerometers at the start of the study. We find that daily total physical activity increased as a result of the adoption of treadmill workstations.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014
    • "This is particularly evident in those tasks that require muscle strength and power. Previous studies have shown that energy restriction combined with exercise training sufficient to evoke weight loss can promote improved functional capacities, work capacity and cognitive performance to a greater extent than energy restriction loss alone [21,73,74,75,76]. The risk of musculoskeletal injury may be further reduced and functional capacity enhanced if the training stimulus is sufficient to stimulate improvement in strength and aerobic capacity [8,17,29]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity is associated with impairments of physical function, cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and the capacity to perform activities of daily living. This review examines the specific effects of exercise training in relation to body composition and physical function demonstrated by changes in cardiovascular fitness, and muscle strength when obese adults undergo energy restriction. Electronic databases were searched for randomised controlled trials comparing energy restriction plus exercise training to energy restriction alone. Studies published to May 2013 were included if they used multi-component methods for analysing body composition and assessed measures of fitness in obese adults. Fourteen RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Heterogeneity of study characteristics prevented meta-analysis. Energy restriction plus exercise training was more effective than energy restriction alone for improving cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and increasing fat mass loss and preserving lean body mass, depending on the type of exercise training. Adding exercise training to energy restriction for obese middle-aged and older individuals results in favourable changes to fitness and body composition. Whilst weight loss should be encouraged for obese individuals, exercise training should be included in lifestyle interventions as it offers additional benefits.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013
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