Finding ways to keep energetic can be an arduous task for many, especially with the winter months rolling in. Chris Horlick, director at AXA PPP Healthcare, offers his thoughts on how employees can tie fitness into their working day.
Finding time to get active during a working day can be challenging. Even if you have good intentions, unexpected tasks can throw your plans and, of course, winter weather can often dampen the enthusiasm to get up and out to stretch your legs.
Whatever the hindrance, we know from our own research that many UK workers spend an awful lot of time sitting – racking up an average of nine hours sitting-time a day, (the equivalent of a UK flight to the Caribbean).Therefore it’s hardly surprising that when, in a separate survey, we asked workers about their activity levels, nearly half (45 per cent) admitted to falling short of the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise, five times a week.
Yet, it’s no secret that sitting for long periods of time can create muscle and joint problems and/or exacerbate existing ones – and there are links to health risks too, including obesity, type two diabetes and some types of cancer.
But, fortunately, we can, with a little ingenuity and perseverance, get on the front foot to break the long-haul sitting style, with regular spells of activity to re-energise and promote better health – and to lower the short and potential long-term risks.
Kickstart a trend of exercising with a like-minded colleague, or group. A supportive friend or network can help you get – and stay – motivated. Be assured that you’re not alone if you’re deterred by the prospect of donning gym gear in front of colleagues, as we found that one in ten employees feel this way. So, choose your exercise buddies wisely and you’ll feel more comfortable and confident. We also found that embarrassment around poor fitness (25%) was a barrier to exercising at work. So perhaps you can reduce the pressure on yourself and start out by walking, gradually increasing the duration and intensity as you progress. A brisk walk with a colleague is a great way to get away from the desk too and, before you know it, you could be well on your way to achieving those 30 minutes of exercise.
Finding opportunities to ‘move more’ during the working day will go a long way to improving your physical health without unduly eating into your work time. Whether you walk to the train station, bus stop or live close enough to walk to work every morning, challenge yourself by, for example, varying your route to cover extra ground. And, the simplicity of opting for the stairs whenever you can is a good habit to have on your side, as you build the range of activities you can adopt that best work for you and your working life.
To find out more about how fitness and exercise can help you, click here.