Exercise helps in calming hostile bosses, says study

Exercise helps in calming hostile bosses, says study

If your boss is giving you a hard time, lying, making fun of you in public and humiliating you, he or she is likely to benefit from some exercise.

A new study by James Burton from Northern Illinois University shows that stressed supervisors, struggling with pressures, vent their frustrations on their employees less when they get regular, moderate exercise.

Burton and his team are the first to examine how exercise can buffer the relationship between supervisor stress and employee perceptions of hostile behaviour, the Journal of Business and Psychology reports.

A total of 98 MBA students from two universities in the Midwestern US and their 98 supervisors completed questionnaires, according to a Northern Illinois statement.

They rated their perceptions of how abusive their current supervisor was, for example “my supervisor tells me my thoughts or feelings are stupid” or “my supervisor puts me down in front of others.”

Supervisors answered questions about how often they exercised and about their workplace stress, for example “working my current job leaves me little time for other activities” or “I have too much work and too little time to do it in.”

The researchers found that, as expected, when supervisors were stressed, their subordinates felt more victimised. However, analyses also showed that when supervisors experienced stress, but engaged in exercise, their subordinates reported lower levels of abusive supervision.

Interestingly, only moderate levels of exercise were necessary to minimise abusive supervision, such as one to two days of exercise per week, and the type of exercise seemed to make little difference.

The authors conclude: “It appears that the simple act of exercising minimises the negative effects of supervisor workplace stress on subordinates.”