Exercise - The miracle cure that prevents illness in your workplace

November 30 2014

We all know the benefits exercise has for our physical appearance and weight, but did you realise that it has a huge impact on your performance at work too?

Last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Britain lost 131 million work days due to sickness absences, with minor illnesses, musculoskeletal pains and stress-related problems accounting for the most common reasons for these lost days.

Due to our hectic lives, many of us are hunched over our computer screens, barely making it outside for lunch. Don’t let your job become a ticking time bomb! Here are the main benefits that exercise can have on your working life.

Reduces stress

Participating in regular exercise is essential to reduce stress levels.

According to research by the Health and Safety Executive, 39% of all work-related injuries/illnesses are related to stress and anxiety. Workplace stress can easily build up due to heavy workloads, challenging relationships with colleagues and tough deadlines.

Research by the NHS states that exercise has the power to promote positive self-esteem and reduce the build-up of stress. When you workout, happy hormones called endorphins are released, which naturally boost your mood and can make you feel calmer.

After a tough day at work, there’s nothing better to beat stress than a good workout. You don’t have to go it alone either, why not invite a friend along to the gym with you, have some fun and turn it into a social activity?

Eases back and neck pains

Workers all over the UK have adapted bad posture habits, whether it’s from loading heavy items all day or being slumped over a computer; one thing is for sure, our backs are suffering.

The ONS found that 30.6 million days were lost in the UK in 2013 due to neck and back pains alone. In the past we were advised to rest sore backs, but research has revealed that being inactive only makes the pains worse.

People that exercise regularly are generally more flexible than those who don’t, which means their muscles are less likely to strain and contract, causing injury. If you are suffering from musculoskeletal pains, participate in light exercises such as swimming or gentle jogging. As you become fitter, the elasticity in your muscles will increase and you should start to feel the pain ease away.

Boosts the immune system

Exercising pushes antibodies and white blood cells, which act as the body's defence system, through the body at a faster rate. As they circulate more rapidly, they can detect illnesses earlier than they might normally do. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that can warn immune cells of invading bacteria or viruses.

Be careful not to overdo it though, as if you can barely make it out of bed suffering with the flu then the gym is not the place to be. While exercising brings copious health benefits, it should always be done in moderation. If you really can’t tear yourself away from the treadmill then try to take it easy.

Workout together

Many organisations have realised the benefits that exercise can provide for their workforce, and they’ve demonstrated this by offering them a supplement to go towards their monthly gym membership. This incentivises more staff to attend the gym who might have otherwise not bothered.