There's more evidence today that regular exercise can offer benefits beyond an improved physique. Findings recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggest that employees who engage in physical activity are less likely to experience deterioration in their mental health, including symptoms of burnout and depression.
In the study (subscription required), Israeli researchers evaluated the personal, occupational and psychological states of more than 1,600 healthy workers employed in both the private and public sectors. Volunteers completed questionnaires when visiting medical clinics for routine check-ups and had three follow-up appointments over a period of nine years. Based on their responses, participants were divided into four groups: no engagement in physical activity and three levels of exercise (75 to 150 minutes a week, 150 to 240 minutes a week and more than 240 minutes a week). PsychCentral reports:
Depression and burnout rates were clearly the highest among the group that did not participate in any physical activity, [said Tel Aviv University researcher Sharon Toker, PhD]
The more physical activity that participants engaged in, the less likely they were to experience depression and burnout during the next three years. The optimal amount of physical activity was a minimum of 150 minutes per week, where its benefits really started to take effect.
In those who engaged in 240 minutes of physical activity or more, the impact of burnout and depression was almost nonexistent, she said, adding that even 150 minutes a week will have a positive impact, helping people to deal with their workday, improve self-esteem, and stave off the spiral of loss.
Previously: Why you should encourage your boss to exercise, Taking time out to exercise during the workday may boost productivity, Do exercise breaks improve mental and physical fitness? and Exercise may be effective in treating depression
Photo by Juan Pablo Olmo