by Beatriz Béjar Fernández, health psychologist specializing in children, trauma and attachment.
Stress at work is one of the collective phenomena that we face in the workplace and that arouses great interest, given its incidence, since it is one of the most frequent problems in the working population and can affect any employee, from any field and any profession.
Stress at work has consequences on both physical and mental health, it also has effects on performance, productivity, attention span or absenteeism, among others; leading to demotivation or anxiety, since our physiological balance or our homeostasis is affected.
Therefore… What can we do to prevent it? This is an aspect that we must not ignore, to which bosses, businessmen and workers must pay attention.
In this article we will discuss the benefits that sport has on this problem, in addition to other preventive measures that you can adopt against stress at work, since it is a problem that is increasing both in incidence and intensity.
Benefits of physical activity
Many people only associate exercise with physical well-being, especially in the aspect related to weight control. However, this practice is essential to also promote our mental health:
- It favors our digestion, since it benefits our intestinal transit, speeds up the digestive process, reduces the risk of constipation and the stress caused by the different digestive symptoms in some people.
- It has benefits in our immune system, since it strengthens it and this leads us to present fewer infections, generating changes in antibodies and white blood cells. In addition, it helps reduce the secretion of stress hormones.
- It improves self-esteem, because by setting goals and achieving them, it makes us feel more capable, promoting self-confidence. On the other hand, physical exercise (accompanied by a healthy lifestyle) generates physical changes. It makes us more satisfied when we see the evolution.
- When we exercise, we release hormones called endorphins, also known as “happiness hormones,” which help us forget about stress more easily. We also generate other neurotransmitters such as dopamine (which generates feelings of relaxation and pleasure) and serotonin (which helps keep our mood in balance).
- It promotes social relationships, since in cases of exercise with other people, it allows us to expand our social environment. Meeting more people helps us connect and distracts us, preventing us from focusing on negative thoughts.
It helps us rest better, as it promotes deeper and more restful sleep after exercising.
- It promotes a better posture of the body because, by remaining seated too long, one rounds the back. This can cause back pain, neck pain, and even injury. A better posture helps us avoid this type of discomfort.
- It helps to improve our coordination, flexibility, speed, strength and energy level.
- It helps to control diseases such as cholesterol or diabetes.
- Helps maintain a routine that promotes concentration, rest and increased motivation.
- Physical exercise also helps you relax and discover and develop new skills that can be used in other areas of life.
- For more physically demanding jobs, exercise will also maintain and increase endurance. Therefore, daily work can be done with less effort.
physical activity in the workplace
In addition to the many benefits of physical activity in the personal sphere, exercise also has many benefits for workday performance.
- It promotes better adaptation to stressful situations.
- It increases our concentration, because during exercise our blood flow increases. Have a greater flow of oxygenated blood to the brain (better oxygenation). Improve our memory and coordination.
- It boosts our motivation. By reducing stress, it promotes our productivity. It doesn’t have to be a long workout, with small exercise routines we can already get these benefits.
- Reduction of absenteeism at work. Exercise has beneficial effects on our immune system, which reduces health problems, especially in sedentary jobs. In the case of jobs with a high physical load, exercise helps to release tension, thus avoiding muscle problems and contractures. In short, it improves workers’ health and quality of life.
- Greater self-esteem is developed, which helps to face the daily challenges of work, because by achieving sporting goals, we feel satisfied and able to handle any situation.
- The capacity for action also increases, because during exercise we get used to acting quickly, so we respond more quickly to challenges.
- The mind is also capable of producing more creative responses. Especially if you play a sport that requires divergent thinking.
- If the sport practiced, in addition, is in a group, the person learns to work in a team since all the members seek the same objective. This is extremely beneficial for the workplace, because currently, to achieve results, the coordinated work of all members of a department is necessary.
- They reduce the tensions that the work environment generates in us on many occasions, which facilitates a better rest and that we can relativize certain problems and concerns of our daily life.
Currently, we have normalized life with high levels of stress and, in the case of work stress, it is a problem that is only increasing. Moreover, if we do not pay attention to it and if it persists over time, it will end up becoming an obstacle both to the quality of life of people and to the growth of organizations.
Given this and the benefits of physical activity, some companies are promoting physical activity programs. These spaces are called “active breaks”. In them, employees perform activities that allow them to reduce the tension of overwork such as stretching and relaxation.
However, it is a measure that is not too widespread. For this reason, policies for the promotion, development, maintenance of health and physical fitness are fundamental, since they have consequences both at the individual level and at the organizational level.
In short, physical exercise is the best ally to strengthen our immune system, it gives us the opportunity to defend ourselves against stressors and stressors. In fact, several studies indicate that people who exercise respond better to stressful situations, so it’s important to maintain healthy physical and mental activity on a sustained basis.
- Stress at work (insst.es).
- Exercise and Immunity: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.
- Chronic occupational stress and its consequences on the health of workers | UGT – Observatory of Psychosocial Risks (observatorioriesgospsicosociales.com).