Exercise has many benefits for employees’ work and lives. For example, engaging in exercise can lead to better health overall. Exercise can also increase your well-being. It can also decrease your stress at work. But, until recently, researchers didn’t know much about the impact of exercise on work-life balance. The good news is that exercise can increase your work-life balance. The even better news? You don’t have to engage in very strenuous exercise to get these benefits. Just getting more steps during your work day can help! Read to learn more about how you can increase your balance through exercise.
Why Does Exercise Lead to Better Balance?
Recent research has explored why exercise – specifically getting more steps during your workday – relates to balance. First, the researchers found that getting more steps in your workday leads you to feel more vigor at the end of the day. Vigor is feeling full of energy and alertness. If you’ve ever gotten to the end of a workday and felt depleted or drained, you were lacking vigor. If you felt alive and excited, you were full of vigor. When you get more steps, it livens you up and makes you have more energy than you did before.
Once you have more energy, you are likely to leave work and do things that help you to recover from the workday. These researchers found that you were both more likely to engage in recovery activities and to be more absorbed in your family. Recovery comes in many forms. We have talked about the importance of recovery before. In this study, they found that people were more likely to master skills and to relax and unwind when they had more vigor. Finally, they also found that employees were more likely to truly be present and absorbed into family activities when they had more energy at the end of the day. All three of these strategies (mastery, relaxation, and family absorption) led to better balance.
What Can You Do to Get More Exercise in the Office?
The encouraging part of this new research is that you don’t have to go to Crossfit to gain these benefits. Just some extra steps each day can help! In this study, they required participants to wear a step tracker. On days they had more steps, they were more likely to feel vigorously at the end of their work day. Then, vigor created greater energy to engage in recovery activities, ultimately leading to greater balance. So, try to find ways to get extra steps around the office. A step tracker may help motivate you to do this!
For example, instead of emailing someone a few offices down, go walk over and deliver your message in person. Try to take your lunch to a different location, instead of eating in your office. Walk around the building a few times after eating lunch. Invite colleagues to go on walking meetings, if you don’t need to be in front of your laptops. Getting creative about how to get more steps can give you more instead of less energy!
What Can You Do to Get More Exercise When Working Remotely?
While it might seem a lot easier to get steps in when working from home, we find that exercise still gets neglected if you’re in Zoom meetings all day. We suggest that you block break time between meetings on your calendar. Even getting up and walking around your house for 5 minutes between each meeting adds up. You can also try to take calls using headphones, so you can move around while talking. Finally, getting outside and going for a walk during meetings in which you don’t need to be in front of a screen can help.
Overall, the more steps you get in, the more energy you have. It seems a little counterintuitive, but it’s true! What do you need to do to ensure you have more vigor at the end of the day? Without these little boosts of energy, you might be less likely to be there for your family or to take care of yourself properly after work. Over time, your work-life balance might suffer. But, you can boost your balance by taking more steps! And if you’re a manager, try to role model being more active at work, so that other employees feel comfortable doing the same. Happy stepping!