Want to Be More Productive? Take a Break — and Get Moving

Taking a break for some exercise in the middle of your workday may have you getting more done. A Swedish study that was published in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that physical exercise can improve productivity, even with a reduction in working hours.

In the study, employees at six “dental healthcare workplaces” were excused from work for 6.25% of the time (about 2.5 hours a week). One group had two mandatory exercise times, and the other group just got the reduced working time. The results? Both groups showed increased levels of productivity, even though they worked fewer hours. The exercise group also had fewer sick days on average.

Although the study was fairly small and a bit confusing, it offers some strong signs that taking some time to focus on your health through exercise is likely to pay off in getting more things done — something that companies as well as employees ought to be able to get behind. It also shows that exercise can help with total health, thereby reducing the number of sick days and healthcare expenses.

Companies that are willing to make worksite health a priority may very well see an increase in total productivity. Healthy employees should be one of the most important factors in any business. I would love to see more businesses offer benefits such as gym memberships, nutritionist visits, a weight or health management class, health fairs, or lectures/workshops. I’ve worked with numerous corporate clients who make health a priority for their employees and have conducted workshops for them with great results. Healthy motivated workers do the best work!

So how can this work for you as an individual if your company doesn’t have these benefits? First, try to get a group of coworkers together. Even if you start with a group walk or run before or after work, that’s a start. Next, try signing everyone up for a charity walk/run event. It promotes health and team building as well as good publicity. If group options aren’t possible, then make health a priority for yourself. Schedule in that time for a workout, take even a five minute walk between meetings to get the blood flowing. Be willing to be the first one to leave the office so you can get to the gym. Work smarter, not harder: your employer and your health will thank you.

[Photo: Robert S. Donovan/Flickr]

About this Gun

Brooke Alpert

Brooke Alpert

Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, is a nutritionist and the founder of B Nutritious, a nutrition counseling practice based in New York. Follow @bnutritious.