Devoting work time to physical activity can lead to higher productivity, according to a study performed by researchers at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet that is being published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The study shows that it is possible to use work time for exercise or other health-promoting measures and still attain the same or higher production levels. The same production levels with fewer work hours means greater productivity, while at the same time individuals benefit from better health as a result of the physical activity.
"This increased productivity comes, on the one hand, from people getting more done during the hours they are at work, perhaps because of increased stamina and, on the other hand, from less absenteeism owing to sickness," says Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz and Henna Hasson, the researchers behind the study.
In the study, two workplaces in dental care were asked to devote 2.5 hours per week to physical activity, distributed across two sessions. Another group had the same decrease in work hours but without obligatory exercise, and a third group maintained their usual work hours, 40 hours a week.
The results showed that all three groups were able to maintain or even increase their production level, in this case the number of patients treated, during the study period compared with the corresponding time the previous year. Those who exercised also reported improvements in self-assessed productivity -- they perceived that they got more done at work, had a greater work capacity, and were sick less often.