Three studies published in the Journal of Applied Psychology have shown that physical fitness is negatively linked to negative behaviors that violate organizational and societal norms.
Issues related to physical fitness (e.g. exhaustion, inadequate nutrition, etc.) continue to be on the rise on a worldwide scale and aren''t actively managed in most organizations, according to study author Kenneth Tai, an associate professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University.
This prompted my coauthors and myself to consider whether physical fitness benefits both on self and on the workplace. Behavioral studies have shown that physically fit individuals are more likely to engage in deviance, but this belief remains incongruent, even in contemporary discourse. However, this analysis has questioned why such individuals would be motivated to engage in deviance simply because of their physical abilities.
An investigation of the data revealed that metropolitan areas with higher physical fitness were likely to have lower crime rates even after controlling the proportion of the population under the poverty line, unemployment, median age, air pollution, and other factors.
Next, the researchers examined 3,925 military recruits who were trained in Singapore. During the training, each recruit was assigned a buddy so they could assist one another. These include lying, cheating, taking shortcuts, disciplining others, and responsing for the work of others.
According to Tai and his colleagues, recruits who scored higher on the military''s standardized fitness tests were less likely to engage in deviant behaviors, according to their peers. A 1% increase in fitness test scores decreased military deviance by 7.5 percent.
The researchers conducted a longitudinal study of full-time employees residing in India who completed self-reported measures of physical activity and ego depletion during work hours every Thursday for five weeks. The employees coworkers also completed weekly assessments of their deviant workplace behaviors. The final sample for analysis was composed of 318 employees.
Tai and his colleagues analyzed how physical fitness was negatively linked to deviant behavior. Importantly, they also found that this relationship was mediated by ego depletion. In other words, employees with less physical activity were more likely to agree with statements such as I feel disgraced and My mental energy is running low, which in turn was linked to greater deviance.
Tai said the view that physically fit individuals are less likely to engage in deviance, according to PsyPost. Additionally, our findings suggest that individuals who increase their physical fitness over time by doing physical activities are likely to develop greater self-control, which helps them overcome their temptations to engage in deviant behaviors.
Tai noted that our study is qualitative and future studies may provide evidence of causality. From a practical perspective, one important question needs to be addressed is understanding and identifying factors that may improve the relationship between physical fitness and deviance, so that organizations may develop these actionable solutions.
Kenneth Tai, Yuchuan Liu, Marko Pitesa, Sandy Lim, Yew Kwan Tong, and Richard Arvey have all written this book, entitled Fit to be good.