Mean Bosses Should Work Out, Study Says

even a little weekly exercise can tame a testy boss.

just a half-hour of exercise once or twice a week can reduce a manager's tendency to put down, humiliate or snap at underlings, according to a study released by northern illinois university's college of business.

researchers selected 98 full-time employees from a wide range of professions—including accounting, engineering and banking—and asked them to anonymously rate the verbal abusiveness of their bosses on a seven-point scale. in a separate questionnaire, the bosses were asked to record their level of work-related stress and frequency of exercise. the employees were selected from a pool of part-time m.b.a. students in the fall of 2010.

the merged findings showed a strong correlation between a manager's aggressiveness and frequency of exercise. while exercise didn't necessarily lead to reduced stress, it seemed to temper bosses' reaction to stress, thereby acting as a behavioral "buffer," says james burton, the study's lead researcher and an associate professor of management. the type of exercise didn't seem to matter, he adds.


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