One exercise to make work better

What if you could be happier, get stronger, socialize more and do this all at work with minimal commitment?  For a group of middle aged offices workers it happened.

The recent study, published in May, took mostly women from occupations with a high rate of muscle pain and discomfort and gave them one exercise; the kettlebell swing.  Including a 5-10 minute warm up the entire workout only lasted 20 minutes and was done 3 days a week.  The results were interesting.

The kettlebell is a cast-iron weight that resembles a cannonball with a handle, the unique way the weight is distributed allows for momentum and many total body dynamic exercises.

The kettlebell swing involves the powerful muscles of the hips to generate force and mimics the same athletic hip movement that is so important in sports. This hip movement burns a lot of fat too. A different study by the American Council on Exercise examining kettlebells found that, “In terms of calorie burning, these results are equivalent to running a six-minute mile pace, or cross-country skiing uphill at a fast pace”. 

After 8 weeks of kettlebell swing training the employees that did the swings saw the results. Based on self-reports almost 80% saw improvements in muscle strength. The training group also enjoyed the training, a key to any successful training program, “according to this study, 8 weeks of kettlebell training can improve job satisfaction, socializing with colleagues, and general wellness “.

And exercise can help employers too, in the same study the authors note, “these observations could have a direct effect on overall well-being and corporation productivity, whereas long-term effects could be decreased sick leave and employee turnover rate”.

Kettlebell swings are fun and relatively easy after some practice. The swing can be performed with a dumbbell as well.


How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and place a kettlebell between your feet. Hinge at the hips with slightly bent knees to lower your body down to grasp the kettlebell with both arms. Start with an explosive upward movement to swing the kettlebell, returning to a standing position, do not arch your back, and make sure to squeeze your glutes. Allow the kettlebell to swing until the arms are parallel to the floor. Remember that this is not a shoulder exercise, but an exercise to generate explosive force in the hips.

Getting people to exercise is hard, trust me I know, my job depends on it.  So any way to get people moving is good and the best way is to get people to like exercise. People tend to like the kettlebell swing. The swing engages the muscles on the back of the body. Getting and keeping your back, glutes and core strong is important for performance and injury prevention.  While work may never be as nice as a relaxing day off, taking some time to work out with colleagues may make the week a little better.


Jay, K, Jakobsen, MD, Sundstrup, E, Skotte, JH, Jørgensen, MB, Andersen, CH, Pedersen, MT, and Andersen, LL. Effects of kettlebell training on postural coordination and jump performance: A randomized controlled trial. J Strength Cond Res 27(5): 1202–1209

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