We have known that exercise and physical activity play a crucial role - not just in physical healthy - but in mental health as well for a very long time. The Roman poet Juvenal, who lived in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, wrote about "a sound mind in a sound body."
Most of us have experienced the positive effect that exercise creates in our lives. So why is it that some many employers are reluctant to give their employees time off to exercise?
There is more to back this up than personal anecdotes and the opinion of a 2,000-year-old Italian guy. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine showed that adding only 2.5 hours if exercise per week into the workday yields a perceptible drop in absenteeism.
Another study from the American College of Sports Medicine showed a 15 percent increase in productivity in employees who spent 30 - 60 minutes during their lunch exercising. Furthermore, the 60 percent of those involved reported their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on the days they exercised.
While this may seem like a tool only large companies that can afford onsite gyms staffed with personal trainers can take advantage of, this is not the case. Small and mid-sized companies can leverage these benefits by encouraging a healthy workplace culture. You do not need a fancy gym to organize a walking group during lunch for example.
However, it is crucial that employers remain flexible their employees want to take some time during their breaks to exercise - i.e. if an employee takes their lunch time to workout, let them eat their lunch at their desk when they return.
Encouraging a culture of health and an active workplace provides a lot of value to employers and employees. The time has come when employers encourage their workers to live healthier not just for their health, but for their professional lives.