The 3pm slump can be the bane of workplace existence. It is a time when eyes glaze over and motivation sinks. In fact, some suggest that the best time for social media strategists to post to Twitter and Facebook is at 3pm on a weekday because so many people log on at this time. The 3pm slump is not a pleasant feeling and nor is it helpful for workplaces. So are there ways to reduce it? Yes and one solution may be exercise.
A research study looked at three workplaces that provided on-site exercise facilities. They asked workers about their mood and energy in the morning and in the afternoon on days they exercised and on days they didn’t . On exercise days employees had better mood in the afternoon, less fatigue and felt better at time management. They reported that exercising during the day gave them a sense of perspective on work leaving them better able to cope with stress and giving them a sense of personal achievement. Other studies have found that short bouts of exercise not only boost mood but also improve memory performance and other cognitive abilities .
Yet workers also reported some downsides to daytime exercise including a sense of guilt about leaving work and worries that colleagues would judge them negatively for doing so . It is possible that many of the employees who weren’t exercising during the day felt the same way and that this was one thing stopping them from taking it up.
So what can be done? Providing on-site facilities may not be possible for many workplaces but changing the workplace culture can be. If exercise during the day becomes a norm employees may be more likely to take advantage of the benefits it offers. There is a fine line between encouragement and pressure, however.
Many people may not wish to exercise for other reasons but, as our blog last month showed, even a short walk or similar non-strenuous activity outside can help to boost mood, mental ability and decrease stress (link to post) thereby banishing, or at least reducing, the 3pm slump.
1. Dugdill, L., et al., Exercising at work and self-reported work performance. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 2008. 1(3): p. 176-197.
2. Hogan, C.L., J. Mata, and L.L. Carstensen, Exercise holds immediate benefits for affect and cognition in younger and older adults. Psychology and aging, 2013. 28(2): p. 587.