Too Busy to Exercise? Research shows it will improve your work life balance

Too Busy to Exercise? Research shows it will improve your work life balance

The number one reason that people give for not exercising or not exercising enough is that they simply don’t have the time, they’re too busy. Whether this is a fib or a genuine belief the truth is fitting some exercise into your life is possibly and new research has shown that exercise has a positive impact on your overall work-life balance – perhaps even helping you have more time to relax and workout.

Research was carried out at Saint Leo University in Florida and found that people who regularly took part in exercise were more confident when it came to believing they could handle their work and home lives – leading to less stress at work. Conflict between work and home, disrupting the work-life balanced was categorised in two ways by the study:

  • Work interference with family means typical work-based pressures which interfere in either a time or psychological way in family time
  • Family interference with work means when person issues end up impacting on the working day and effect working time

The research conducted was setup to see if exercise could alleviate both these situations. Previous research in the area has shown consistently that exercise can help reduce stress. Previous studies looked at specific types of exercise such as Tai Chi and high-intensity aerobic exercise. These studies showed a reduction in self-reported stress but they didn’t show whether the individuals involved believed and therefore were empowered to manage their work-life balance more confidently.

The researchers conceded that it does sound a bit of an odd thing to do. Adding exercise into an already busy schedule seems like something which only add more stress in, not helps alleviate it but exercising is another entity altogether. Exercise gives you the chance to escape psychologically and physically from your work and personal life psyches. Working out hard means you focus only on the task in hand and your body benefits as well as your mind.

The research study took in responses for 476 working adults to a set of specific survey questions. Respondents were asked to answer questions about exercise behaviour on a four point scale (1 never – 4 always). Questions were straightforward such as ‘I exercise more than three times a week’. Respondents were then asked a number of questions on another scale with seven points about their confidence in handling their work-life balance conflicts. The findings suggest that employers may be able to aid their employees in their conflicts by suggesting and encouraging exercise. There’s a good a reason some workplaces have on-site gyms.

If you’re reading this and thinking how then we have a few suggestions – especially useful if you have lots of commitments including your family and work. Five top tips follow:


Schedule your gym sessions into your diary and then you can’t avoid them. If you’re a busy working parent or social butterfly then you’ll definitely have a diary. Whether it’s virtual or on paper you’ll pack it to the brim with necessary appointments. Why not make exercise one of them? They’re there for all to see so if a client phones and wants to see you at a time scheduled for exercise, obviously outside of your set working hours, then you’re within your rights to say no.

Fill any holes in your calendar with short but effective workouts and don’t drop them simply because it isn’t essential. It’s in your diary so stick to it. 

Anything is something

You may feel like you need to set aside hours a week to fit in the exercise you need – it simply isn’t true. You can break up your workout into smaller 10-minute bursts and still have a great result. Still try and fit in five or six of these bursts throughout your day and you’ll feel the benefit in the long run. It could be anything from 20 squats followed by 20 lunges when you’re having a coffee break or a quick jog on the way back from work – perhaps even running for the train would do. It may not sound like much but it’s better than nothing.

Schedule a gym visit into your lunch hour if needs be - and if a lunch hour for you means 20 minutes, then pop to your nearest gym for a 10 minute run on the treadmill. That's all it takes.

Make it Fun

You may dread your exercise session but not if you make it fun. You’ll head into the gym feeling great if you know you’re going to be working out with friends or perhaps if you’ve got a really inspiring playlist to egg you along your way. If you’re trying it at home then get the kids involved – one of those dance-based workout DVDs will have you all in stitches.

Whether you moan about feeling unfit or are always weighed down with work-life stresses then exercise could be the answer. Regularly working out may give you the empowerment you need to take stock of your life as a whole and make the most of the activity you can build in.



Sarah L.
28 January 2014

Sarah L.

tell me about it. Companies want everything you can give, but there will be no thanks if the finances don't stack up.'Presenteeism' is the curse of our modern working culture and all the values are wrong. Look after yourself because your employer may not!

James B.
24 January 2014

James B.

My job involves long hours int he city and I couldn't agree more with this article. Yes, it's hard to find the time, but you just have to make time. The only alternative is complete burnout.

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