Want a better work life balance? Exercise.


Today, I have a lot on my plate  – work deadlines, kids home from school, my parents coming over for dinner. I just don't have time to workout in the gym, even though I made an exercise schedule and I should be sticking to it. When I'm stressed and feeling overwhelmed, I usually give up exercise to get more done. 

Now, I'm rethinking my behavior.

Researchers have found that exercise empowers people to feel they could better manage their work life balance. People who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle tough tasks. They felt better prepared for the challenges of the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work, researchers found.

"The idea sounds counter-intuitive," admits Russell Clayton, assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University and lead author on the research report. "How is it that adding something else to our work day helps to alleviate stress and empower us to deal with work-family issues?"

However, Clayton said,  "We think exercise is a way to psychologically detach from work — you're not there physically and you're not thinking about it either — and, furthermore, it can help us feel good about ourselves." 

The study's researcher believe the findings suggest employers can help employees with work life balance by encouraging them to exercise. I think we are seeing many employers move in this direction. We definitely have seen more of an emphasis on wellness in the workplace. 

As the new year arrived, many of us made resolutions to exercise more and take better care of ourselves. Our motivation might have been the physical benefits but now we know there are mental benefits, too. As researchers put it, "an hour of exercise creates a feeling that lasts well beyond that hour spent at the gym." 

So, I guess I have to break the habit of blowing off exercise when my plates start overflowing with to-dos. This research is just another nudge to get moving. 

As Clayton put it:  "If you have been feeling torn between resolutions to exercise more and to be a better working parent or spouse, then this should come as great news: You can do both. Here’s to your success and happiness in 2014."




The Work/Life Balancing Act

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