Why Exercise Is The Key To Work-Life Balance

Getting enough exercise doesn’t just make your butt look good; it also can save it in the office or at home.

Why Exercise Is The Key To Work-Life Balance
[Image: Flickr user Vox Efx]

Maybe you should be asking your boss for midday workouts.


Interesting research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that exercise isn’t a selfish indulgence (how dare you care about your body!). It’s an asset to not only your work, but the whole work-life shebang.

After surveying a range of professionals Saint Leo University assistant professor of Management Russell Clayton found a “clear relationship” between physical activity and navigating the intersection of work and home–though we don’t always agree with the dichotomy. But Clayton’s point is this: if you exercise regularly, you’re less likely to feel a conflict between your working life and your home life.

The reasons why show the interconnectedness of your physical and psychological state and your productivity:

  • When you exercise, you can release some of the stress that’s getting all pent up inside. And the less stress you feel, Clayton observes, the more enjoyable you’ll find your office or your kitchen.
  • When you exercise, you boost your self-efficacy, the confidence you have that you can get things done. What’s more, folks with high self-efficacy are more likely to face the various tasks to be met in the day as challenges to be mastered. As one of Clayton’s interview subjects told him, “an hour of exercise creates a feeling that lasts well beyond that hour spent at the gym.”

There isn’t a perfect time to exercise, Clayton says: some people do it upon waking so that the day doesn’t overwhelm them, others get in a mid-afternoon workout renewal, while you might go for a run once you get home.

But what’s crucial for managers to know, he adds, is to recognize that exercise could be integrated into the workday.

Forward-thinking companies are already putting a sweaty foot forward: AnswerLab loves a walking meeting, Overit Media gets into hourly exercise breaks, and HootSuite has turned itself into a yoga-loving maple syrup mafia. So what will you do?


Hat tip: HBR

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.