The benefits of exercise are seemingly endless: It keeps the pounds off, decreases the risk of numerous diseases, boosts energy, and even helps people catch extra zzz’s. There’s no denying that physical activity can improve all areas of life, but with a full-time work schedule, finding the time to fit in a workout can be difficult. The debate about the best time to work out remains unanswered – exercising before work cuts into sleep, but working out at night may result in less weight loss. And taking a midday break for an exercise class? It just doesn’t always pan out.
When it comes to the right time of day to work out, everyone is different. Nevertheless, fitting in a workout not only improves your health and happiness; it can also impact your career. We surveyed 990 people about their workout habits and the benefits they experienced. Does exercise make employees more productive and even lead to a higher raise than their sedentary counterparts? Keep reading to find out.
Time Is Right
The right time of day to work out for some CEOs is before heading to the office, but for the rest of the working world, 67.9% of people work out after their shift is over. And the workouts they’re getting in are no quick trick.
In fact, 89% of people worked out at least once a week for an average of 33 minutes each session, which equates to 20% of the recommended weekly amount. However, the recommended amount is for moderate aerobic exercise. As the intensity or type of exercise changes, the amount of time needed to receive the same benefits does as well. Luckily, over half of respondents reported endurance as their primary workout, while 25.7% primarily strength trained. Regardless of the exercise, 71% followed a workout routine, which can help with consistency.
Everyone works out for a different reason – some people are looking to tone, while others want to blow off steam. Regardless of the reason behind the workout, a workout session comes with numerous benefits, one of which seems to be increased work performance. A whopping 78.3% of people said their workouts were beneficial to their work performance, with at least 79% seeing an improvement in productivity, stress management, energy, and happiness.
There was barely any difference across performance areas based on the time of day people worked out, though. But productivity, energy, and happiness improved the most for people who snuck in a workout before work, while stress management improved the most for people who worked out after work.
Exercising during the day was the least successful in improving stress management, energy, and happiness, but some studies show midday to be the optimal workout time. Not only does workout performance increase during emptier hours at the gym (typically around 1 to 2 p.m.), but also strength peaks around midday. However, attempting to squeeze workouts into a “power hour” lunch break may not be feasible for all. When put to the test, people only attended 26% of midday workout sessions, compared to 70% of sessions held after work.
Most people are familiar with the endorphin rush that comes from exercising, boosting our mood and even giving us some extra energy. But is the “runner’s high” that comes with a sweat session enough to turn job-hating Americansinto satisfied employees? Surprisingly, the majority of respondents who did and didn’t work out said they were currently satisfied at work. However, those who worked out were 6 percentage points more likely to be satisfied with their work life.
An increase in job satisfaction may be related to the other benefits of working out – all of which can depend on that “perfect” time of day. Those who worked out before work were more likely to feel happier, more alert, and to have more energy, while those who chose to hit the gym after their shift were more likely to sleep better, feel less anxious, and see a decrease in depression and anxiety.
The benefits of early morning exercise make sense; starting your day with a workout wakes your entire body, laying the foundation for a day full of increased energy, boosted productivity, and an elevated mood. The benefits associated with evening workouts are slightly more complicated. Some studies argue that working out too close to bedtime could interrupt our sleep cycles, while others have found the complete opposite. This may come down to personal differences, but for those who would rather work out in the evening regardless of the rewards or consequences, there are plenty of ways to make the most out of the workout and prevent post-workout insomnia.
Considering the demands of the current American workforce, it’s no surprise that most employees suffer from job-related stress. While working out may not magically make the workload lessen, it can give employees an outlet for their stress and make them better equipped to face workplace obstacles. Just over half of employees who worked out said they were under a lot of pressure at work, but compared to their counterparts who did not work out, they were 9 percentage points less likely to feel constantly stressed and nearly 22 percentage points less likely to lack motivation.
A similar trend occurred based on the time of day employees worked out. Those exercising before heading to work were just a tad bit more likely to report being under a lot of pressure at work, while those who chose to exercise after work were more likely to be constantly stressed and suffer from lack of motivation.
Bringing Home the Benefits
As if a boost in productivity, mood, and energy weren’t enough, working out can even lead to a boost in employees’ overall careers. Those who worked out were not only 6 percentage points more likely to get a raise, but they also received a greater increase in their salary compared to their counterparts – fitting in a workout helped employees snag a $1,197 raise, on average, compared to a raise of just $901 for employees who didn’t work out.
Interestingly, the time of day also impacted the amount of money added to employees’ salaries, with post-work workouts resulting in an average of nearly $70 more than those completed before work. While the reason behind the connection is not clear, it’s safe to assume the boost in productivity and overall better mood brought on by a workout improves the performance of employees and gains the attention of their employers.
Helping With Health
Employers have also begun to notice the work-related benefits of exercise, with some companies adding an in-office gym to encourage employees to work out. Adding a gym to the workplace isn’t the only way for companies to promote a healthier lifestyle, though.
78% of employees were offered a health care benefits package at work, but that seems to be where employers draw the line. Over 65% of employees said their employer didn’t offer any additional health care perks. If companies were to offer such perks, employees would favor healthy snacks in the office the most, followed by paid or discounted gym memberships. Over a third of employees would also like to have standing desks, which can have similar benefits to working out. Standing while working not only decreases the risk of weight gain and heart disease, but it can also lower blood sugar levels, reduce back pain, and improve mood and energy levels.
Reap the Rewards
Simple changes can make drastic differences. Exercising before work can boost productivity, elevate mood, and even land employees a raise. But working out in the evening can have benefits too. Despite the contradictory research, employees who exercise after work can still reap the benefits. However, keeping up with workouts can be difficult with a hectic work schedule.
That’s why bringing the gym home can make fitting in workouts easier and significantly more convenient.Whether it’s a treadmill or elliptical for endurance training, exercise bike or fully equipped strength training machines, it’s important to do your research before investing in equipment. At FitRated.com, we do the investigating for you. We’ve rated the most popular fitness equipment based on hundreds of customer and expert reviews to ensure you make the right decision while saving time, money, and energy. To learn more, visit us online today.
There were 990 respondents. The respondents who were excluded missed the attention-check question or indicated they did not work full time. Throughout the survey, any outliers were excluded from our data. From the able respondents, 47% were men, and 52% were women. Our respondents ranged in age from 18 to 69 with a mean of 34 and a standard deviation of 10.19.
The data we are presenting are self-reported. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include but are not limited to selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration. As a result, the outliers in this study have been excluded.
Fair Use Statement
Working out isn’t only beneficial to your health; it can also improve your quality of work. If you want to share our findings for noncommercial purposes, please do so – but don’t go overboard and forget to link back here to provide our team credit for their work.