Having trained as physiotherapist, physical activity is always something I have been interested in. I enjoyed the challenge of working with people who had suffered illness or injury and using physical activity and structured exercise as a tool to improve both physical and mental health. We all know physical activity can reduce the risk of developing many conditions, including cancer, but something that is frequently not given adequate attention is the importance of physical activity in self-care and work-life balance.
Now that summer is on the way and the dark and gloom of winter is almost forgotten, it is the perfect opportunity to rid ourselves of our (not-so-ideal) sedentary habits and enjoy the better weather. A typical response to the pressures of work life is the feeling of being stressed. We spend half of our waking hours at work and (as in any busy working environment) can often be stuck at our desks for long periods of time. Physical activity breaks could be the key to giving us the physical and mental strength that we need to promote our productivity and safeguard our health.
Here are some tips that I have found helpful to incorporate into my workday:
- Get out and enjoy the better weather, a 20minute walk is a great way to spend part of your lunchtime. At work I keep trainers and an umbrella at my desk so I can get out no matter what the weather! See our twitter campaign #worksitewander
- Go and meet colleagues rather than sending emails or phoning, not only does this promote physical activity but boosts our social interactions at work.
- If making a coffee why not carry out some of the SCPN’s #kettlecise exercises?
- Introduce “Walk and Talks”, this will allow you to mix both work and the pleasure of getting out and enjoying the warmer weather. The last walk and talk meeting I had meant I needed to mentally prepare what I wanted to discuss which allowed me to focus my mind.
Getting away from your desk is not always possible, but remember that breaking up sitting time is also important:
- Why not try some desk exercises. These will improve your posture and stop you slumping at the computer all day. Keeping a resistance band in my desk means I can perform some simple strength exercises if I need a break from the computer- do these standing to help break your sitting time!
- When phoning colleagues is necessary why not try and stand when you are on the phone – you can see when our boss is on a call as she will be doing her stretches by the window.
Remember that every little counts! Taking a 5 minute break from the computer screen can go a long way.
Dr Sarah Nicholson, SCPN research fellow.