Could Exercise Lower Risk Of Job-Related Depression And Burnout?

We already know that working out can have serious benefits at work -- studies show it boosts mid-day productivity and can help a mean boss chill out, for instance -- and now here's one more to add to the list. A recent study from the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that a midday sweat may help you to combat on-the-clock stress.

Scientists have already established a link between job burnout and depression: when one occurs, the other is far more likely to appear as well. But so far they haven't been able to isolate the factors that influence the association, which has prevented advancements in treating the two together. But two professors from Tel Aviv University wanted to see if exercise had any effect on this particular aspect of psychological and professional well-being.

The researchers, Sharon Toker and Michal Biron, looked at data on 1,632 Israeli workers, who were surveyed about their exercise habits, psychological well-being and professional lives during routine health care appointments over nine years. Based on their responses about exercise, the workers were divided into four different categories: those who didn't exercise at all; occasional exercisers who did between 75 minutes and 1.5 hours of physical activity, moderate exercisers who did between an 1.5 and four hours per week and a fourth group, dedicated to fitness, who worked out for more than four hours per week.

When the researchers crossed study participants' workout habits with their psychological well-being, they found that the more a worker exercised, the less likely his or her psychological health declined over a three year period. In fact, those who got at least 1.5 hours of exercise a week were half as likely to get depressed and experience job burnout over three years as those who never worked out. And for the group who managed more than four hours of workouts a week, there was no significant increase in depression and job burnout over the same period.

And while that's great news for individual workers, who can calibrate their fitness routines accordingly, it's also a plus for employers, who feel the effects of worker burnout on their bottom line, in the form of lost productivity and absenteeism.

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