Exercise. It’s kind of a big topic, so that’s why this post will focus on the impact it can have on work and well-being so let’s go into it. Exercise why, what and, how.
- A sense of accomplishment, setting and meeting goals – for many people, this is a big benefit of exercise. Having a target to work towards, whether it’s running 1k, a parkrun 5k, cycling or swimming goals, being able to do a certain yoga move, this can provide a great incentive and focus for people to try and make your goals meaningful for YOU.
- Health benefits – weight loss, you’re less likely to get ill, lower risk of heart disease, cancer… you might hear this all the time from everywhere but it doesn’t make it any less true; even small amounts of exercise make a difference. These could also factor into your goal-setting too, weight loss, reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol etc.
- Psychological benefits – a lot of people talk about the benefits of exercise for de-stressing – getting distance with work or any sources of stress. Plus exercise stimulates endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, all of which play an important role in mood, lifting your mood and making you feel higher and more positive. Which is why people say they feel great after they’ve exercised. For most people, the psychological benefits include regulating and lifting your mood, acting as a powerful tool for improving your overall mental health and well-being. Exercising also helps you to have better quality sleep which is massively helpful in regulating mood and mental health.
- Whatever you enjoy, whatever doesn’t feel like a have to but a want to. Tennis, walking, basketball, yoga, pilates, swimming, cycling, even gardening counts, particularly if it’s a bit extreme.
- If you’re the kind of person who likes to try new stuff, there are ALWAYS classes and a billion YouTube videos on new exercise ideas. Indoors, outdoors, it doesn’t really matter, so long as it’s right for you.
- 2.5 hours of exercise a week is what is currently recommended as a minimum. So work CAN definitely get in the way and become an excuse but why let it…lunchtime walks, mini-breaks that involve moving around, anything to get your blood pumping.
- Gym or outdoors? The gym has great kit and can track your fitness and progress but there are additional benefits of getting outside with all the extra stimulation plus the extra Vitamin D production you get from sunlight, particularly important during the winter months
- Will you use music or visuals – a lot of people love and need their music to motivate them during exercise, either as a distraction or as something to get them enthusiastic and pumped up. Spotify even has a run genre that picks music linked to the number of paces you take in a minute, so keeping you on the beat and to time.
- With fitness tracking or without, you can do challenges with friends, but it might also help to get away from tracking apps and switching all the tech off, which can also be a great relief.
- Starting out to advanced – are you a coach to 5k person? If so, there are LOADS of ideas on starting off on the internet; the NHS website even has a couch to 5k podcast series. If you’re more advanced, again the internet is full of resources.
- On your own or with others – this is a big choice for many and most mix it up. Some people are really private about their exercise goals and use exercise as an opportunity for me-time; otherwise would prefer it to be social and to have buddies around to motivate, encourage and challenge them – and it’s easy to do either but know what works best for you.
- You can make choices all the time – use an escalator but walk up to it, take the stairs, not the lift, walk a little faster on your way to work; get off at the stop just before your normal one; cycle, don’t drive everywhere if possible. Every choice adds up to that 150 minutes of exercise a week.
At the end of the day, make it YOURS! It can and should feel fun and motivating and a little challenging. Bottom line, just do it, there are all sorts of reasons why you’ll feel better for it. And your work will benefit too – you’ll be more alert, with a more positive mood, feel less stressed and be sleeping better. So go and convince your boss that everyone at work should be encouraged to exercise during work hours because it truly benefits everyone.