There's a reason why going for a jog when you're stressed feels so darn good. And it turns out that emotional release from exercise doesn't just lower your cortisol levels -- it can help protect you from career burnout as well.
We all know that feeling of burnout at work: mental, physical and emotional stress and fatigue that leads you to even question your competency in your job. A recent Australian study found that consistent sweat sessions -- especially cardio-based ones -- can directly reduce symptoms of burnout like feeling psychologically stressed and emotionally exhausted.
Researchers from the University of New England decided to explore how effective exercise could be in mitigating symptoms of burnout. For the study, the researchers recruited almost 50 formerly inactive participants, two-thirds of whom were women, between the ages of 19 and 68 and separated them into three groups: one that performed cardiovascular exercises, one that performed resistance training exercises and one that maintained the preexisting sedentary lifestyle. Each participant evaluated their experiences with the exercise programs over four weeks with three psychological scales: the Subjective Exercise Experience Scale, which measures a person's responses to exercise stimuli; the Perceived Stress Scale, which measures the degrees to which situations a person experiences feel stressful; and the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which measures a person's feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment.
The team found that both cardiovascular and resistance training exercises can successfully increase well-being and sense of personal accomplishment, as well as reduce perceived stress. But cardio workouts specifically were able to decrease psychological stress and emotional exhaustion -- two key components of burnout.
With job burnout becoming an increasingly significant problem worldwide -- it costs us a collective $300 billion annually -- it's critical that we find ways to not only protect our minds and bodies, but also our bottom lines.
We know that chronic stress, a main contributor to burnout, can negatively affect the brain, heart and immune system in a multitude of ways. According to a recent survey from the American Institute of Stress, almost half of American workers say they feel "a disabling reaction to stress on the job," and that inability to cope with chronic stress is a key contributor to one's overall potential for burnout.
The researchers from the University of New England, after completing their study recommended that employers consider offering exercise opportunities to their employees to assist them in reducing burnout factors in their work lives. And luckily, a solid number of companies in the United States are doing just that.
They recognize that happy, healthy employees make for happy, healthy businesses -- and staying active can play a significant role in that relationship.