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An Unexpected Benefit to Working Out

Exercise, fitness, job success, productivity, job earnings

Working long hours may seem like the best approach toward being promoted at work or getting a raise, but the extra effort may be counterproductive. New research shows that those who take time out to exercise tend to make more money than those who do not.

Researchers at Cleveland State University evaluated subjects based on how they fit into the profile of a “regular exerciser,” meaning they worked out at least three hours per week, using a technique called propensity-score matching. Other factors considered included age, education level and whether the participant played sports during his or her school years.

Vasilios Kosteas, an economics professor, found that those who regularly take time out to exercise earn 9% more than their more sedentary counterparts.

Previous studies have found a link between exercise and improved productivity. A study last year for example from researchers at the Karolinska Institute discovered that employees who exercise during work hours are more productive and have less absenteeism.

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Exercise is also good for your brain. Good cardiovascular fitness means that the blood moves more effectively and efficiently through the body, bringing oxygen to every cell, including brain cells. Recent research from the Pitt School of Medicine and Oregon Health and Science University found that monkeys who exercise had greater blood volume in the part of the brain known as the motor cortex over those who were sedentary. This helped the primates improve scores on memory tests.

On the flip side, those who are obese have been found to earn less – especially women. Obviously, health conditions that accompany obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, interfere with work because of a greater number of sick days. But there is also the prevailing epidemic of obesity discrimination. Researchers with the George Washington University School of Public Health has found that obese men and women are often paid less for doing the same job.

But what about the so-called “lost hours” you spend exercising over working? Kosteas notes that the average hourly wage in the United States is $23.41. The time that workers spend at the gym (assuming three hours of exercise per week) is valued at $70.23, but the extra pay over a 40 hour work week (taking into consideration the higher hourly pay) that the exercising employee receives is $84.28 – about 20% more than the value of time spent at the gym.

So instead of saying “I don’t have time to exercise,” it is highly recommended that you study your schedule and find at least three hours during the week that you can cut out something else less important and add in a workout that not only benefits physical and mental health, but your wallet too.

Journal Reference:
Kosteas VD. The Effect of Exercise on Earnings: Evidence from the NLSY. Journal of Labor Research. Volume 33, Number 2 (2012), 225-250, DOI: 10.1007/s12122-011-9129-2