Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
I consider myself to have a fairly stressful job. I manage a busy department with all of the usual pressures and personalities associated with that. I work long hours and I work in a legal profession known for high levels of stress in the workplace. To top that off my family has some history of depression, so in all likelihood I am genetically more likely to suffer mental ill health.
Thankfully I have never personally suffered with mental ill health. However to combat the risk of mental ill health I am self confessed gym fanatic and have for several years made a conscious effort to go the gym during my lunch at least 3-4 times a week, workload permitting, as well as running or cycling on a weekend.
I was delighted however when I read an article on the ‘Shape’ website regarding some research conducted by the US National Institute of Health regarding the positives affects of exercise on the symptoms of stress. Turns out it really is true when people say ‘Healthy Body, Healthy Mind’
The US National Institute of Health conducted a study of three groups of individuals engaged in a sedentary job. These groups were split in the following:
- A group of individuals who did resistance training, such as weight lifting
- A group of individuals who did aerobic training, such as running
- A group of individuals who did no exercise
The overwhelming outcome of the 4 week Trial was that those individuals who exercised during their lunch hour were significant less stressed than those individuals who did not exercise. Over 50% of those who exercised reported feeling no symptoms of burnout or stress at the end of the programme with the remaining 50% unanimously agreeing that they felt far less stressed than when they were not exercising.
Those individuals who did aerobic training noted the most significant improvements in stress related symptoms whereas those conducting resistance training a greater sense of personal accomplishment and perceived to be under less stress at work.
Perhaps there is hope for me yet. It does of course beg the question as to whether a greater number of employers should offer gym membership as a benefit of their employment, or even whether employers should allow slightly extended lunch breaks in order for staff to go to the gym, even if that results in the staff working a slightly longer work day (for example working 8.30am – 5pm with a 1.5 hour lunch break). Perhaps it would be advisable for Occupational Health specialists to make recommendations regarding gym membership for those returning from periods of absence with stress.
Michael Lewin Solicitors are specialists in claims for stress at work and are able to advise employees, employers and occupational health therapists about the issues arising.