People Management
4 min.

Lowering Workplace Stress Thanks to Exercise

Véronique Forest
Last updated on 22 Dec. 2023
Published on 8 Aug. 2022
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Physical exercise is a fantastic way to lower stress, both at work and in your personal life.

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Did you know that according to a Government of Canada survey, work-related psychological health problems cost the Canadian economy approximately $20 billion per year? That’s huge!

Stress has very harmful effects on human beings. It can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, negatively impact mood, and consequently affect performance and productivity.

Fortunately, there are practices that can help lower stress, such as regular physical exercise. Workplaces can really benefit from encouraging their employees to move more. Find out why below!

Less stressed employees are more productive and happier at work

People who are physically fit are generally less stressed at work. That’s right—physical exercise is a bulwark against stress. This makes sense when you consider that moving our bodies diminishes anxiety and symptoms of depression, in addition to boosting mood and improving self-esteem.

According to Actiz , mental health issues are one of the leading reasons why 80% of employers file disability claims with their insurers.

Companies have much to gain from making their employees less stressed.

Benefits for businesses

Companies that encourage their employees to do more exercise reap multiple benefits, such as:

Companies will benefit whether the exercise takes place at work or at home.

5 ideas to lower stress at your workplace

Many companies choose to put programs in place to encourage their employees to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle.

Whether it’s at work or at home, there are many ways to encourage your employees to get moving.

1. Active breaks

Suggest that your employees take active breaks, such as going for a walk or simply getting a few minutes of fresh air during the day. To encourage your employees, you can offer slightly longer breaks for those who take active breaks.

Remember to lead by example. You can even ask your employees if they’d like to join you.

2. Stretching

Everyone feels better after some stretching, even if only for a few minutes.

Encourage your employees to stretch before they start working. This can be a good routine to get into, especially for more physical jobs where stretching can lower the risks of injury.

You can also offer lunchtime classes or set up a space for your employees to stretch during the day. As a bonus, these ideas are great team-building activities that will help fuel team spirit.

3. Active transportation

Encourage your employees to walk or bike to work whenever possible. To make active transportation easier for them, install racks or spaces where your employees can store their bikes with peace of mind.

Also make sure your employees are able to take a shower before starting their shift. This makes a huge difference for employees who want to adopt active transportation.

4. Competitions or sports challenges

Challenge your team or organize a contest to give them an extra shot of motivation.

You can hold a competition between departments or sign up for a team obstacle course, for example. It’s so much more motivating to take on challenges as a team. And it’s also a great team-building opportunity!

5. More flexible hours

This might sound trivial, but allowing your employees to have a flexible schedule helps them free up time for exercise and sports. Employees’ schedules have a significant impact on their physical exercise levels.

Flexible scheduling can mean different things, such as letting employees trade shifts, submit their preferred hours, work fewer hours at certain times of year, or even have a rotating schedule.

For companies that manage employees with variable hours, it’s helpful to use scheduling software to be able to offer greater flexibility.

Workplace stress is your enemy

Regardless of the methods they choose, all companies must find ways to lower employee stress. Exercise is a great solution, but it will not work without other measures.

Before implementing a program to encourage physical exercise, consider whether employee workloads are reasonable, management practices are adequate and some processes could be improved. Your employees can be the world’s most physically active bunch, but if you have an inadequate work environment, they will still be stressed out.

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