Get fit and ahead: Exercise enhances work focus

Allowing employees short periods of time to exercise can increase focus and allow them to perform better at work, a new study has found.
By: | February 10, 2023

When it has been well-documented that sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk of chronic health problems, managers at workplaces could do more than just encouraging employees to take regular short breaks during the day.

Physical activity before or during the workday, for instance, can have a positive impact on employees’ focus and performance at work, particularly when there is a match between exercise intensity and the employee’s motivation for exercise.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Simon Fraser University, had 74 participants wear a Fitbit to track their physical activity and complete questionnaires about their motivation for exercise, ego depletion and self-efficacy for five workdays.

During this period, the participants had to work 32 hours or more per week, spend 20 hours or more interacting with co-workers, and partake in two or more workouts that lasted at least 30 minutes.

READ: Stop what you are doing and get up from your work desk

The results showed that physical activity before the end of the workday was generally associated with better focus at work. The researchers also found evidence that the benefits of physical activity before the end of the workday were impacted by the employee’s motivation for exercise and the intensity of the physical activity.

Employees who were more motivated by external factors benefitted from moderated physical activity, leading to higher levels of self-efficacy and better focus at work. Those who were more motivated by internal factors, such as an existing love for exercising, benefitted from intense physical activity, but not moderate activity, reported PsyPost.