It’s no secret that exercising improves our mental health. In fact, it’s the exact reason that we’re seeing exercise regimes added to workplace health and wellness programs. But until recently, there hasn’t been a lot of research into the types of training that have the greatest effect, nor was there data available as to the required frequency of these training sessions. Now, however, resistance training in the workplace has been shown to have significant positive effects on an employee’s psychological health, reducing ‘burnout,’ and leading to a happier, healthier workforce.
Workplace Health and Wellness Programs
Too often, people assume corporate health and wellness programs are only applicable to office-based workplaces. And whilst these programs do have a great effect on the more sedentary routines, they are also having vast and positive impacts across all industries. Not only do they improve the attitudes of employees, but they can also lead to:
- Healthier employees, and less absenteeism
- Lower costs for subsidized health care
- Improved employee retention
- Improved team morale
- Improved job satisfaction
- Increased productivity of employees
- Higher returns
- Less impact on the business’ bottom line due to health-related issues
For more generalized information about corporate health and wellness programs, including the benefits for both company and employee, as well as how to begin to design an effective corporate wellness plan, please see “Unpacking Corporate Health and Wellness Programs in Vancouver”
Resistance Training in the Workplace- The Research
One of the key elements of any corporate health and wellness plans is the physical component. Whilst this is usually a combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, numerous studies have begun to appear surrounding the specific benefits of resistance training in the workplace.
For example, the self-reported purpose of this study was to ‘assess the impact of the practice of resistance training on the psychological health of employees participating in a corporate wellness program.’
The study separated groups of participants based on the frequency of sessions (between 2-4 sessions per week), for a total of 12 weeks. All participants were required to complete questionnaires pre and post-program and found that ‘significant statistical differences were noted between pre and post-intervention periods in all groups’ indicating an improvement in psychological health and wellbeing.
Therefore it can be said that resistance training in the workplace is efficacious in improving the mental state of its participants. Even though the group who trained more frequently showed marginally better results, the study concluded that a properly implemented resistance training program, in any frequency was effective at improving the mental wellbeing of employees.
A second study, “Exercise is more than medicine: The working-age population’s well-being and productivity” enrolled more than 3500 participants and provided resistance training programs in the workplace, that spanned between 10 to 52 weeks. These participants came from a broad range of industries, including office workers, dentists, cleaning personnel, health care workers, construction workers, and pilots. The sessions were approximately 1 hour long, once per week, and tailored to:
- Work exposure
- Employee health status
- Physical capacity
After which the participants completed surveys, blood and muscle samples. The study found that “in all job groups significant improvements were documented regarding health outcomes.” More specifically, neck pain was reduced amongst almost all participants, and cardio-respiratory fitness was also improved amongst office, healthcare and construction workers.
Most importantly- from an employer’s point of view- productivity increased with improved muscle strength and decreased body mass index. The study also concluded that resistance training programs in the workplace indicate ‘acceptable cost relative to savings on health expenses and lost productivity.’
A third study, “Health and Fitness Benefits of a Resistance Training Intervention Performed in the Workplace” examined the effectiveness of resistance training in the workplace in untrained men (bus drivers) over a 24 week period. The participating group was assessed against a control group, and each group was tested (before and after the training period) for:
- body composition
- blood pressure (BP)
- pain incidence
- muscular endurance
The study found that in the participating group there was a ‘significant reduction in blood pressure and pain incidence’ as well as improvements in muscular endurance and flexibility. As expected, none of these improvements were prevalent in the control group.
It should also be noted that workplace absenteeism was also recorded during this period, and during a 12-week follow-up period. It was found that absenteeism was reduced in the active group, over this time.
The study concludes that a “periodized resistance training program performed within the workplace improved different aspects of health and fitness in untrained men…(thus) both employers and employees may benefit from the setup, promotion, and support of a work-based physical activity program involving resistance training.”
Can Resistance Training in the Workplace Reduce Burnout?
According to this study, “Reducing workplace burnout: the relative benefits of cardiovascular and resistance exercise” the global, financial cost of ‘burnout’ comes in at a whopping $300 billion annually. This ‘burnout’ can become detrimental to workplace productivity, and due to it’s myriad of benefits exercise has been identified as one of the primary burnout-reduction mechanisms.
Over a four week period, participants in the study (who were dominantly female) completed an exercise regime that was either cardiovascular dominant or resistance-training dominant. At the end of the four weeks, exercise participants had “greater positive well-being and personal accomplishment” as well as:
- Less psychological distress
- Less perceived stress
- Less emotional exhaustion.
In addition, resistance training was “noticeably effective in increasing well-being and personal accomplishment and to reduce perceived stress.” The study goes on to conclude that although larger sample sizes are needed for more foolproof data, exercise in any form is an effective tool against burnout. It furthers this conclusion that “organizations wishing to proactively reduce burnout can do so by encouraging their employees to access regular exercise programs.”
Similarly, resistance training has been found to reduce headaches and symptoms of headaches in adults. The study “Effect of resistance training on headache symptoms in adults: Secondary analysis of a RCT” analyzed 573 office workers across 5 groups of varying resistance-training intensity, and supervision. It found that “the intention-to-treat analysis showed reduced headache frequency and intensity of approximately 50% in all training groups” when compared with the control.
It is interesting to note that the use of medication to treat headaches was lower in the supervised training groups. This would suggest that not only are the symptoms of headache reduced with resistance training in the workplace but also that this type of training is most effective when it is run/operated by qualified personnel and can reduce the use of analgesics to boot.
With so much research pointing to the benefits of resistance training in the workplace, many organizations are also beginning to see the value in implementing a workplace exercise regime. With three locations in Downtown Vancouver, Turnfit Personal Trainers can provide on or off-site training, rehabilitation, nutrition education, mindset and meditation practices and more.
Not in Vancouver? Not a problem! We also provide a range of online training programs and can happily tailor one to suit your needs. If you’re interested in a corporate health and wellness program or would like to implement an exercise and resistance training program at your workplace- reach out and connect with us!