Why To Exercise Today: Be A Nicer Boss

This article is more than 9 years old.

On days when our boss, WBUR digital chief John Davidow, misses his morning work-out, he snarls and slavers at us, sending us running to the restroom to burst into tears or punch the walls.

Just kidding. In actuality, he is managerial Zen embodied. But I did ask him whether he thought he was a nicer boss on days he works out, and he allowed: "Well, I definitely feel better on days I work out."

My question was prompted by a recent Scientific American podcast titled "Bosses Who Work Out Are Nicer." It reported on a paper titled "Supervisor Workplace Stress and Abusive Supervision: The Buffering Effect of Exercise." A chunk of the podcast transcript:

Researchers asked 98 MBA students who were also employed full-time to rate how their supervisors treated them, by responding to statements like "[my boss] puts me down in front of others." The researchers also had supervisors fill out a different survey, about their stress levels and weekly exercise. And, as the authors expected, the more stressed-out supervisors were, the more their employees felt belittled by them. But the employees felt better about bosses who exercised, whether it was yoga, cardio or weight lifting. And just one or two days a week did the trick.

Exercise didn't simply melt away the stress—bosses who worked out reported feeling just as much pressure as their sedentary counterparts. Active bosses just spared subordinates the verbal attacks.

This program aired on February 8, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.