Feeling stressed, overworked and exhausted? Struggling to keep up? Regular, intense exercise is great for reducing stress and enhancing energy levels, but what about active rest? The idea of active rest is to give your body a break but to still remain active during that rest period.
Active rest is found to be a principle component to avoiding burn out, over training syndrome, and other issues seen among the athletic population. Should we consider these ideas for the workplace professionals who are expected to train and perform like athletes forty or more hours a week?
Actively resting at work
A May 2017 study, The Practice of Active Rest by Workplace Units Improves Personal Relationships, Mental Health, and Physical Activity Among Workers (2017), looked at the effects of active rest in the workplace. Ryoma et al sought to clarify the effects of active rest on white-collar workers in regard to several import measures that influence job satisfaction and over all well-being.
In the study there were 59 workers (40 male, 19 female) performing the active rest program. The program included a warm-up, cognitive training, aerobic exercise, resistance training, and a cool-down ten minutes each day. This intervention took place three times a week during lunch breaks over ten weeks. Anthropometric measurements, Profile of Mood States 2 (POMS 2), Brief Job Stress (BJSQ), physical activity levels, and Work Ability Index were observed at the baseline and following the ten-week program.
What did the researchers learn?
After ten weeks the physical activity levels improved in the experimental group. The research team noted that the time spent in moderate and vigorous intensity exercise increased specifically.
POMS 2 group scores in “vigor-activity” and “friendliness” improved. In the BJSQ assessment “vigor”, “interpersonal stress”, “support from superiors, colleagues, and family/friends” and “job satisfaction” increased. These measures may indicate better relationships, mental health, physical activity, and work ability among this population.
What this means for the workplace of the future
These results show that ten minutes of activity a few times a week is enough to potentially improve relationships, job satisfaction, and physical activity among white-collar workers. Active rest may not sound great to managers at first, but shown the results companies may stand to gain unknown productivity benefits by encouraging their employees to engage in active rest.
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