University of Bristol researchers found that employees who enjoyed a workout before going to work - or exercised during lunch breaks - were better equipped to handle whatever the day threw at them.
It also found that people's general mood improved on days of exercise but they became less calm on non-exercise days. The research, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, is the first of its kind to prove that exercise during work hours has mental, as well as physical benefits.
Jo Coulson, Research Associate in the University's Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, said: 'Our statistical results were very important. 'On exercise days, people's mood significantly improved after exercising. Mood stayed about the same on days they didn't, with the exception of people's sense of calm which deteriorated.
'Critically, workers performed significantly better on exercise days and across all three areas we measured, known as mental-interpersonal, output and time demands.' The study group was made up of 200 university staff and employees working for a pensions company and an IT firm.
Each employee completed a questionnaire about their mood, workload and performance on days when they exercised. The data was compared to answers from days participants opted not to exercise. The workers, who were already in the habit of exercising, chose their own mode, frequency and intensity of workout to better reflect a real-life situation. Most used a gym and did classes while some did weight training and team sports.
The key findings were:
• Seventy two per cent reported improvements in time management on exercise days compared to non-exercise days.
• Seventy nine per cent said mental and interpersonal performance was better on days they exercised.
• Seventy four per cent said they managed their workload better.
The questionnaire scores were 27 per cent higher on exercise days in categories such as dealing calmly with stress and 41 per cent higher for feeling motivated to work.
Those who exercised were also 21 per cent higher for concentration on work, 25 per cent for working without unscheduled breaks and 22 per cent higher for finishing work on time.
Feedback from focus groups found that people who built exercise into their workday were re-energised, calmer and more able to solve problems.
'The study also begs the question whether employers can afford not to be encouraging active breaks.
'The suggestion is that employers who are ahead of the game in offering proper on-site facilities actually get less from their employees on days that they don't exercise.'
Source – Daily Mail