The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, shows that workers who engage in moderate exercise have higher work-quality and better job performance than those who lead sedentary lifestyles. According to the study, physically fit employees get along better with coworkers and take fewer sick days than out-of-shape employees. Subjects with high levels of cardiovascular fitness perform more work, using less effort.
"This is the first study to draw a meaningful relationship between work performance and physical activity-related behavior," says Dr. Nico Pronk, the study's principal investigator and vice president of HealthPartners Center for Health Promotion. "It's good to see employers and health organizations taking notice and building fitness programs accordingly."
The study's findings support why some healthcare organizations are starting to sponsor fitness programs. "Employers are just starting to realize the financial benefits of encouraging physical fitness among their workers," explains Dr. Brian Martinson of the HealthPartners Research Foundation, one of the study's lead investigators. "Our team published a study in October showing that increasing physical activity to even moderate levels was associated with declines in annual health care charges of $2,000 on average. Combined with this study, we are showing that health care costs can be lowered and work productivity increased just by making adjustments and increasing physical activity."