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Workers who burn calories at the gym 'avoid having a burnout in the office'
Workers who exercise find it far easier to deal with the mental strain of the job (you may want to change out of the suit first)
The last thing you may want to do after a long day at work is to pull on your tracksuit and pound out a few miles on the treadmill.
But making the effort to head to the gym a few times each week can dramatically improve your mood on the job, say scientists.
A team from Tel Aviv University found that employees who managed to exercise for a few hours a week were half as likely to experience a decline in mental health than those who did no physical activity.
The researchers, led by Dr Sharon Toker, discovered that working out for four hours a week provided the most benefit in reducing the risk of burning out or developing depression.
Depression is a clinical mood disorder while burnout is defined by physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.
However, Dr Toker said both contribute towards a 'spiral of loss' where the loss of one
resource, such as a job, could have a domino effect and lead to the loss
of other resources such as one's home, marriage, or sense of
The research, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, assessed the personal, occupational, and
psychological states of 1,632 healthy Israeli workers in both the
private and public sectors.
Too many deadlines Jump on an exercise bike to reduce the chance of burnout
The participants were divided into four groups: one that did not engage in physical activity; a second that did 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity a week; a third that did 150 to 240 minutes a week; and a fourth that did more than 240 minutes a week.
They completed questionnaires when they came
to medical clinics for routine check-ups and had three follow-up
appointments over a period of nine years.
Depression and burnout rates were clearly the highest among the group that did not participate in physical activity. The more physical activity that participants engaged in, the less likely they were to experience elevated depression and burnout levels during the next three years.
The team found those who engaged in at least four hours of exercise displayed almost no symptoms of mental strain. But Dr Toker said even 150minutes a week helped workers improve their self-esteem and ability to work.
She added that far-sighted employers would benefit by building a gym on company grounds or subsidising memberships to gyms in the community, and by allowing for flexible work hours to encourage employees to make physical activity an integral part of their day.
Such a strategy, she concluded, pays business dividends in the long run.