Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz and Henna Hasson of Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said the study involved
employees at a large Swedish public dental health organization.
One group of workers were assigned to a mandatory exercise program carried out during regular work hours, which took 2.5 hours per week. Another group of workers received the same reduction in work hours, but no exercise program, while a third group worked regular hours with no exercise program, the researchers said.
The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found employees assigned to the exercise program also had significant increases in self-rated measures of productivity -- they felt more productive while on the job and had a reduced rate of work absences due to illness.
"Work hours may be used for health promotion activities with sustained or improved production levels, since the same, or higher, production level can be achieved with lesser resources," the researchers said in a statement.