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Why the Key to a Happier Work Life Is a Good Sweat Session

by
author image Leah Groth
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Chicago. She has covered topics such as entertainment, health & wellness for such publications and websites as xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.
Why the Key to a Happier Work Life Is a Good Sweat Session
If you want to improve your career, you should think about starting an exercise regimen. Photo Credit: RyanKing999/iStock/Getty Images

If you want to kill it at work, you might want to trade overtime in the office for some you-time at the gym. According to new research by the Stanford Center on Longevity and Fidelity Investments, starting a new workout routine is the best thing you can do to become more motivated at work and happier in general.

The organizations surveyed more than 9,000 employees to understand how life events — things like moving in with your parents or starting a new job — can affect your wealth and well-being. Surprisingly, they found that the best changes you can make to improve your motivation at work and your mental wellness in general are to start an exercise routine and pay off your debt. While you may not have a ton of control over the latter (sorry, college grads), you can definitely hop on the exercise bandwagon.

If your mind isn’t quite blown yet, take a good look at the numbers. Starting an exercise regimen made 56 percent of the study participants feel less stressed, 71 percent became happier and 38 percent found they were more motivated at work. That’s far more than you can say about starting another Netflix binge.

But despite exercise’s positive influence, twice as many people reported that they had stopped working out completely, which produced the opposite effects. Cutting out exercise made 55 percent of people feel more stressed, 69 percent were less happy and 20 percent became less motivated at work.

If being a rock-star employee isn’t a priority for you, the study also offers a few fine reasons to break a sweat that have nothing at all to do with your job. For one thing, 79 percent of people said that starting to work out made them eat better.

What’s more, 60 percent of study participants reported sleeping better. This is vitally important because most people — millennials in particular — are in desperate need of some shut-eye. The study found that people in their 20s and 30s complained the most about losing sleep. All those extra hours awake resulted in poorer job performance, higher stress levels, a lower quality of diet and an overall decline in well-being. And by the way, Gen-Xers, it's not because they party too much.

Other events that really messed with people’s lives include adult children moving back home (yes, your parents really are — uh, sorry, we mean “were” — enjoying that empty nest), reorganization at work and becoming a caregiver for a sick or elderly family member.

The message here is that your happiness isn’t defined by how much money you make or how many followers you have on Instagram, “but it has more to do with the moments in your life that matter,” explains Jeanne Thompson, senior vice president of Thought Leadership, Fidelity Investments. “Two people with the same basic demographic profile could be at very different places in their lives and need different help to support their finances, health and happiness.”

Moreover, it’s not all on you to make sure that you are in the pink — it’s also on your bosses. “We want to help employers gain a deeper understanding of how life events impact employee total well-being,” Katie Taylor, vice president of Thought Leadership at Fidelity Investments, tells LIVESTRONG.COM. “Many employers are already doing all they can to promote physical wellness, whether it be incentives through their benefits programs or an on-site gym.”

So if you’re feeling stressed and uninspired, take advantage of any benefits that are available through your workplace. And with spring in full swing, you can also go for a run or take a brisk walk outdoors.

Read more: How to Take Your Run From Treadmill to Trail

What Do YOU Think?

Do you agree with the findings of this study? What seems to have the biggest impact on your work performance? Is there an area of your life you would like to improve?

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