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Researchers Find That Exercise Can Soothe a Mean Boss


Having a mean boss is sometimes an occupational hazard. Bosses that are harsh in tone, reprimand you in front of others, or just overall abusive, may be able to improve their attitude simply by exercising.

A new study from researchers at Northern Illinois University found regular exercise can soothe the tension of a frustrated boss and improve his or her work relationship with employees.

Study findings were published in the ‘Journal of Business and Psychology.’

The study involved 98 employees and their supervisors throughout the Midwestern part of the United States. Participants completed questionnaires that rated their perceptions of how abusive their current supervisor were. Specific scenarios were drafted on the questionnaires, such as, “my supervisor tells me my thoughts or feelings are stupid,” or “my supervisor puts me down in front of others.”

Supervisors also filled out questionnaires that asked how much physical activity they were able to do, and how and much their job hindered their ability to consistently exercise.

As predicted, researchers confirmed that when supervisors were stressed, their employees felt more victimized. However, it was learned that when the supervisors experienced stress, but were also able to exercise, their employees reported fewer instances of work place abuse.

Results of the study also confirmed that only moderate amounts of physical activity is needed to decrease stress among supervisors. Only one or two days of exercise a week was enough to make an impact, and the type of exercise was of no important significance.

“It appears that the simple act of exercising minimized the negative effects of supervisor workplace stress on subordinates. Wellness programs, often inclusive of exercise components, have been advocated to control workplace stress for years. This study adds support to their specific relevancy in smoothing supervisor-subordinate relationships,” the authors stated in a news release.

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