Yes, you read that correctly. A new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research assessed the effect of kettlebell training on a group of forty office workers. If it helps, I like to imagine the participants were characters from the movie Office Space, but back to the study. Researchers found that kettlebell training had myriad positive effects, even extending into areas of work life we wouldn’t expect to be touched by a little cannonball with a handle.
Forty total participants were broken into two groups of twenty. The first group performed 20 minutes of kettlebell training 3 days per week for 8 weeks. The second group answered emails and played Minesweeper. Both before and after the trial, each participant had his “postural coordination” measured. Participants stood holding a metal rod in front of them, horizontally, at arms’ length. Researchers applied a downward load to the rod that each participant had to resist in order to remain standing. Then, without warning, researchers released the load and measured how long the participant stumbled before regaining balance. I’ll be honest – this looks like fun for the researchers.
Did the kettlebell training make these cubicle-dwellers any more stable? Absolutely. The group that trained with kettlebells showed a 20% improvement in the postural coordination test after 8 weeks of training. They all regained balance more quickly than before. Unfortunately, the control group actually got worse.
But unexpectedly, the kettlebell training group also reported improvements in things like job satisfaction and socializing with colleagues. These changes were self-reported, but were absolutely real in the minds of the participants.
We see again and again that exercise not only strengthens our bodies, but also strengthens our minds. Mark Rippetoe said in Starting Strength, “Exercise is not a thing we do to fix a problem – it is a thing we must do anyway, a thing without which there will always be problems.” This study adds to the growing body of evidence that locking someone in an office for eight hours is incredibly abnormal. But just twenty minutes of hard physical activity can go far in returning that person to his normal state of physically strong, mentally awake, and socially satisfied.
1. Kenneth Jay, et. al. Effects of Kettlebell Training on Postural Coordination and Jump Performance: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. May 2013. Vol 27. Issue 5. p1202-1209. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318267a1aa
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