The role that exercise can play in helping to reduce stress is well-known. But new research has found that exercise also helps us 'detach' from work and can empower us to feel that we have better work-life balance.
"Individuals who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work," said Russell Clayton, assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University in Florida and lead author of the research.
Conflict between work and home can be categorized in two ways, Clayton said. The first is when work gets in the way of family or personal time. The second is family interference with work, when personal issues find a way into the workday and compete with work time.
But how can exercise – something that takes time, after all, improve our feelings about already-overcrowded, time-crunched schedules?
"The idea sounds counter-intuitive. How is it that adding something else to our work day helps to alleviate stress and empower us to deal with work-family issues? We think exercise is a way to psychologically detach from work – you're not there physically and you're not thinking about it either – and, furthermore, it can help us feel good about ourselves."
The research, which will be published in a forthcoming edition of Human Resource Management, was based on a survey of almost 500 working adults which explored their exercise habits as well as how they handled work-family conflicts.
"Our findings suggest that employers can help employees with work-life balance by encouraging them to exercise," Clayton said.