February 23, 2012
Over 4 Hours Exercise Per Week Prevents Work Burnout

Tel Aviv University researchers find that people that get at least 4 hours of exercise per week experienced the least amount of burnout and depression.

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.

Depression and burnout rates were clearly the highest among the group that did not participate in physical activity. The more physical activity that participants engaged in, the less likely they were to experience elevated depression and burnout levels during the next three years. The optimal amount of physical activity was a minimum of 150 minutes per week, where its benefits really started to take effect.

In those who engaged in 240 minutes of physical activity or more, the impact of burnout and depression was almost nonexistent. But even 150 minutes a week will have a highly positive impact, says Dr. Toker, helping people to deal with their workday, improving self-efficacy and self-esteem, and staving off the spiral of loss.

I've started incorporating a lot more short periods of exercise into the course of my day. Sometimes I'll do push-ups right after I wake up or use hand exercise devices when I'm sitting around reading or walking. This works well. I don't have to block off large periods of time.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 February 23 09:33 PM  Aging Exercise Studies

PacRim Jim said at February 24, 2012 8:44 AM:

Surely this must vary with the individual.

Jeff Morton said at February 24, 2012 12:55 PM:

No Jim, all exercise, all drugs, in fact -- all physiological inputs are exactly the same for every man, woman and child on planet earth.

PacRim Jim said at February 24, 2012 8:56 PM:

Jeff: By "this" I meant the duration of exercise. It must surely vary with the individual.

Hartree said at February 26, 2012 1:24 PM:

Correlation vs causation?

I'm guessing that those who are badly burnt out and or depressed are much less likely to have the motivation to do 4 hours or more of physical activity outside of work. It doesn't mention it in the article, but I'd be interested to see how it worked for those who have high levels of physical activity as part of their work. Even there it would be difficult to separate the influences as depressed burned out people might well be more likely to either leave or be let go from a physically challenging job.

vince52 said at February 27, 2012 11:26 AM:

The plan that's worked for me has been to find a few things that I actually enjoy doing that involve at least a moderate level of physical activity. For me, swimming, the nautilus cycle at the health club, the elliptical trainer, tennis, golf. Do at least one of them for at least 30 minutes a day. The idea is that it doesn't feel rigorous or painful. It feels like fun. And I feel noticeably better since I started doing this 15 months ago.

Steve D said at February 27, 2012 11:49 AM:

I'll testify to this. For the last five years I've had to deal with a wife with significant mental health issues, downsizing issues at work, and a weight gain of about 40 pounds. I had panic attacks 4 years back (thought it was a hear attack). I was on antidepressants and pain meds for a bad back. The whole ball of wax. Life was sinking and pulling me under with it. There were a lot of reasons I couldn't just bug out but the main one was for the sake of my pre-teen daughter.

Six months ago (without any other real improvements in my situation) I took some good advice from my doctor and forced myself to go to the gym 3-4 time a week just "do something" for an hour minimum. It quite literally changed my life for the better. I'm now off most meds, I have MUCH lower anxiety, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Better than all that is that I', pumped. I have a much more positive attitude which helped my work outlook. And what the hell, I even look better too. It's a win win win.

t's a shame that those late night infomercials are SO annoying because they do in fact get it right despite the fact that they're shilling for what is usually some sort of hokey product or program.

Achillea said at February 27, 2012 1:11 PM:

I used to go to the gym, now I go geocaching on the weekends. The hills give my cardio a workout, I get to see nice scenery and some great views, I meet people and generally have a lot of fun. Plus the dog gets a walk, too. All-over win.

M.E.M. said at February 27, 2012 2:29 PM:

I'm unemployed for a long time and suffer from severe depression because of it. The only thing that staves it off is thirty minutes of running/walking intervals done daily, first thing. This elevates my adrenaline to a functional level for about the next 24 hrs, then I have to repeat it again. It has about the same effect that I would get if I were working a job that kept my adrenaline up to a functional level. Because it is so effective (doesn't make me cheerful, but does keep me at a basic level of function) I make myself do it almost every day. On the days that I don't, I pay.

PacRim Jim said at February 27, 2012 5:04 PM:

Any of you who are depressed for any reason, don't read Raymond Carver's short stories.

Anonymous said at February 27, 2012 10:51 PM:

PacRim Jim - Amen on Carver! No one but hyperactive parrots should read him - at the bottom of the bird cage. Real "depressed" writers are hanging on by the skin of their teeth - to life. Screw hese fake death-enablers. Read Fitzgerald's stories - I'll never forget the one about reecovering, he touched the side of a building with his thumb and was overcome by the wonder of ... reality. Also Some of Charles Bukowski's poems - buying his medication - whiskey - and seing the little kids buzzing around - he also bought some candy bars. L'chaim!

- Malthusiast

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