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Physical Activity Could Help Keep You Mentally Fit


Want to be more productive at work and keep your brain in good shape? Some researchers now say the answer could be as simple as hitting the gym.


Working with Dr. Michal Biron from the University of Haifa in Israel, Dr. Sharon Toker of Tel Aviv University’s Recanati Faculty of Management analyzed the personal, occupational, and psychological states of 1,600 healthy Israeli workers in both the private and public sectors, who completed questionnaires at medical clinics when they went for routine check-ups and had three follow-up appointments over a period of nine years.

To learn about the effects of exercise on depression and burnout rates, the participants were divided into four groups: one that did not engage in physical activity; a second that did 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity a week; a third that did 150 to 240 minutes a week; and a fourth that did more than 240 minutes a week.

The doctors discovered that employees who engaged in physical activity saw less deterioration in their mental health, as well as fewer symptoms of burnout and depression. What’s more, those who exercised at least 240 minutes a week were about half as likely to experience these pitfalls as those who didn’t exercise at all, but real benefits didn’t even require that much — they started to take hold when people worked out for just 150 minutes per week.

In work that was recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the researchers also said companies that subsidize gym memberships could see returns in the form of decreased health care costs and absenteeism, and increased workplace productivity.

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