Is there anything exercise can’t do? A regular workout routine can keep your weight in check, reduce your risk of heart-related diseases, strengthen your bones, and so much more.
However, despite the myriad health benefits of frequent exercise, a shocking number of Americans aren’t moving nearly as much as they should. One of the most significant roadblocks for many people is that they’re tied up doing a very specific task for just about eight hours each day: working.
Striking the ideal balance between work, play, and exercise looks different for everybody. Some people get their sweat on before work to kick-start their day, while others who prefer squeezing in every possible second of sleep may opt for an at-work or after-work fitness routine. We surveyed 981 full-time employees to learn how they manage the delicate dance between work and exercise.
“When” of Working Out
The most common time to fit in some exercise was after work, as was the case for 68% of respondents. Another 38% exercised before work, and 33% did so during the workday. Understandably, an even higher portion of people working at an office waited until after hours to exercise, compared to a much more even distribution among people who worked remotely. In fact, for the latter group, the most common time to sweat was before the workday began. While managers were a bit more likely to do a “rise and shine” workout, a large majority of both managers and employees exercised after work.
It is largely accepted that there is no “best time” to exercise during the day – it’s just fine for people to choose a time and workout that fits their personal preference, which is what they are most likely to do anyway. The real recipe for success is building a routine that works for you since you’ll be most likely to stick with it!
However, not all workout times are created equal in terms of their specific benefits. Nearly every respondent who exercised before work experienced a spike in their energy, focus, and productivity. Abstaining from working out had the opposite effect: Less than half of people who did not exercise at all during the workweek felt they were creative or a fast problem-solver, and only 73% focused easily.
Hustling for Higher Performance
Exercise can be a real boon for work performance. In fact, respondents who worked out (no matter the time of day) were more likely to avoid the dreaded afternoon slump. But which workouts should you try if you want to target specific areas of improvement?
Yoga was a fan favorite for the after-work exercise crowd: Respondents in this group listed yoga as the most effective way to increase focus, productivity, energy levels, and creativity. It also tied with outdoor running/jogging as the best way to sharpen people’s problem-solving skills. Especially after a long day of focusing at work, yoga – which integrates brain chemistry-altering mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises into its practice – is a fantastic way to press the reset button on your mind.
For those who preferred to exercise before the workday, it was more of a mixed bag. Yoga helped most with focus, while weightlifting/weight training helped with energy and productivity, and a treadmill run/jog boosted creativity and problem-solving abilities.
Midday exercisers felt more productive, focused, and energetic when they chose a walk outside as their workout. Taking a break is one of the most important parts of a balanced workday, and going outside is a much-needed change of scenery for many. Yoga was most popular for creativity and problem-solving, and given the popularity of lunchtime yoga for corporate offices, it’s never been easier to get a good stretch in during your lunch hour!
Moving Under the Radar
Remote workers had a slightly easier time sneaking in an on-the-clock workout than office employees (58% versus 49%). The majority of people decided to get their heart pumping and blood circulating with a simple walk (62%), but a few preferred dropping down for some pushups (14%), knocking out some squats (14%), or busting out some calf raises (12%).
Going for a walk was the most popular exercise among people who felt relaxed at work, followed by the elliptical trainer or indoor bike. If you can’t sneak off for a stroll or some pushups today, you can get in a surprisingly complete workout from the comfort of your desk! Employees who exercised during a short break were more likely to be relaxed at work, so make sure to move at least a little during the day in whatever way you can.
Power of Exercise Benefits
It’s clear that exercise at any time of day can boost employees’ work performance and sharpen their minds. Some companies are so aware of this fact that they incentivize their teams to move at some point during the day.
On-site gyms were the most popular workplace fitness amenity for our respondents at 22%. Standing desks, which can fight sedentary lifestyle-related issues like obesity and back pain, were available to 20% of respondents. Discounts for off-site gyms, the flexibility to exercise during work hours, fitness reimbursements, in-office gym equipment, group exercise, and step-related incentives were also available but less common.
Aside from the obvious health benefits, employees whose workplaces offered exercise-related amenities and incentives were more satisfied with their job overall. And when it came to job offers on the table, 82% of respondents between the ages of 21 and 30 said they were more likely to accept a position if the company offered health or exercise benefits. The same was true for 79% of 31- to 40-year-olds, 76% of 41- to 50-year-olds, and 64% of respondents aged 51 and older.
Make time for play at work
Just because you work full time doesn’t mean you’re resigned to a life without exercise! Many respondents were able to fit in a workout either before, after, or during work, and those who did reaped many rewards. Increased focus, productivity, and creativity were just the tip of the iceberg among employees who made time for even a quick sweat during their lunch hour. It’s no wonder such a large majority of respondents with workplace fitness benefits said they felt more satisfied with their jobs!
If you want to continue your at-work exercise efforts at home, visit FitRated for everything you need to know about choosing the right exercise equipment. Our reviews cover all of the leading elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, max trainers, and more so you can make the most informed decision about your fitness journey. Visit www.fitrated.com to check out our comprehensive reviews!
Methodology and Limitations
We surveyed 981 full-time employees about their exercise routines and perceptions of their typical work performance. We collected respondents through two surveys: one for people who exercised during the workweek, and a smaller survey for those who didn’t exercise at all during the workweek. For respondents to be included in our data, they were required to meet the qualifications, complete the entire survey, take the survey only once without multiple attempts, and pass an attention-check question in the middle of each survey. Participants who failed to do all of these were excluded from the study.
Of all respondents, 50% were women, 49% were men, and less than 1% identified with a nonbinary gender. Fifty-seven percent of respondents were employees, and 43% managed other employees. Twenty-nine percent were aged 19 to 30; 38% aged 31 to 40; 20% were aged 41 to 50; and 14% were aged 51 and older. The average age of respondents was 38 with a standard deviation of 11 years.
The data we are presenting rely on self-reporting. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.
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