If you’ve been looking for a reason to get more active, here it is – in order to boost work performance, all you need to do is get some exercise!
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we ‘revive’ our productivity through a little activity.
According to an October 2022 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.4 billion adults worldwide are insufficiently active – one in three women and one in four men do not experience sufficient physical activity. The report also found that physical inactivity is twice as bad in high-income countries than in low-income ones.
We know exercise is good for us. It boosts our brain health, improves our ability to do everyday activities, strengthens our bones and muscles, reduces the risk of disease and helps us manage our weight.
And now, researchers are finding it has an incredible impact on work performance, too. A March 2023 report published in the journal Personnel Psychology tracked 200 employees from the UK and China in a 10-day study. Here’s what the study found:
1. Motivation predicts action
A person’s motivation to be physically active – the degree to which they feel determined to engage in this behaviour – is critical in whether they eventually are physically active. This might seem obvious, but if you’ve ever cancelled plans or changed your mind at the last minute, you know motivation doesn’t necessarily lead to action. However, the study found that the more autonomous a person’s motivation – the more they consider physical activity to be fun and enjoyable, rather than something to dread – the more likely they were to engage in it.
2. Physical activity creates benefits for the next day
The rewards of physical activity were seen to extend to the next day – the study researchers termed this package of next-day resources as ‘resource caravans’. The first resource or benefit they found was improved quality of sleep, since physical activity promotes protein synthesis and facilitates better sleep. The second resource they found was vigour – people were more energetic and felt they had more vitality. The third resource gain was task focus, which meant enhanced information processing, attention and concentration.
3. Physical activity improves next-day job performance
Across two studies, the researchers found consistent results: when employees engaged in daily physical activity throughout the day, they didn’t just see benefits to mood and sleep the next day, they also had reduced body pain, better daily task performance, and better creative performance.
4. It leads to better job self-efficacy
Employees who were physically active had a better perception of their capability to perform their job. Coupled with better sleep and task focus, along with strong positive beliefs about their motivation and work performance, their self-belief turned into actual results.
So, if you’re looking to boost work performance, it’s worth engaging in physical activity. The WHO recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 years should engage in at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity or at least 1.25 hours of high-intensity physical activity each week.