exercise workplace wellness

Exercise Benefits Extend to Mental Wellness: Report

As employers continue to address mental health as part of a well-run workplace wellness program, one tactic that may already be used might help in this area, too: Exercise.

We recently highlighted a new report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine titled “Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings from the Mental Health in the Workplace: Public Health Summit.” Among other factors, it offers several recommendations for business-led action.

As the study notes: “Mental and behavioral health are important public health issues, affecting between a third and one half of all Americans sometime in their life. Since most of life is spent in working years, the workplace is an ideal setting for public health-informed initiatives that promote mental and behavioral health and prevent illness. For businesses, improvement of employee mental health can save substantial resources by decreasing presenteeism, increasing productivity, and encouraging retention while decreasing health care costs.”

The study also notes the productivity costs businesses can see:

  • “Research shows that there are more workers absent from work because of stress and anxiety than because of physical illness or injury.”
  • “Further, more days of work loss and work impairment are caused by mental illness than other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.”
  • “Employees with depression report their productivity at 70% of their peak performance, and approximately 32 incremental workdays are lost to presenteeism for individuals with major depressive disorders.”

Now a new report looks at the connection between exercise and happiness — can exercise positively affect one’s mood? It’s titled “A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness,” and it reviewed some 23 studies that “involved a wide range of population from various countries and areas.”

For the observational studies: All of them “reported positive associations between physical activity and happiness. As little as 10-min physical activity per week or 1 day of doing exercise per week might result in increased levels of happiness.”