Dr Jayden Hunter is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Lecturer in Clinical Exercise Physiology, at the La Trobe Rural Health School in Bendigo. His research focuses on exercise strategies in occupational settings. When he’s not training for triathlons, Jayden enjoys gardening and travelling – the latter of which is proving to be rather difficult in the current situation! Twitter handle: @JaydenHunter14
Last year the Holsworth Research Initiative provided support for Jayden to examine the relationship between exercise, workplace performance and mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown. As Jayden summarises:
We found a positive relationship between physical activity level and physical and mental work ability, which suggested that people who were more active had less job-related stresses (both physical and mental).
Exercise and work performance
The Australian government Exercise and Physical Activity guidelines recommend a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise, and two sessions of strength exercise. Even before the COVID-19 lockdown, only 15 per cent of Australian adults met this minimum amount.
Jayden’s study found that people who met these weekly exercise guidelines felt they were both physically and mentally better able to do their jobs.
- People getting enough aerobic exercise were twice as likely to rate themselves as having “rather good” or “very good” work ability, and
- People who met the strength exercise guidelines were 1.5 times as likely to rate themselves as having “rather good” or “very good” work ability.
These findings suggest a link between exercise and work performance. The next step is to examine a potential cause and effect relationship by implementing an exercise intervention and assessing changes in workers’ presenteeism (productivity) and absenteeism (sick leave).
The barriers to exercise
As Jayden says:
We found that the perceived barriers to exercise were lack of resources (such as gym equipment), lack of skill or expertise and lack of willpower. If we can provide solutions to the first two barriers, then people may find it easier to overcome that last barrier and start a new exercise program.
What happens next?
In 2021, Jayden and his team plan to offer local Bendigo employees a tailored exercise program with their choice of platform, either remote/telehealth, face-to-face or a combination of the two. This means people can access exercise expertise at their workplace and/or online via a telehealth platform (e.g. Physitrack). The research team anticipates that this additional support and guidance might facilitate greater ongoing exercise adherence, and subsequently, greater improvements in health and productivity.
Stay tuned to this blog to learn more about these exercise programs.
Do you want to learn more?
- Australian Governments guidelines on exercise and physical activity in Australia.
- World Health Organisation 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
- One of the many news articles about Jayden’s research findings.
Jayden’s research supports the Holsworth Research Initiative theme:
To address the global challenges of inactivity and chronic disease