Finding time for exercise during a working day can be challenging. Even with good intentions, there are always those unavoidable interruptions that can throw your plans off course.
Whatever’s stopping you or your team, we know from our own research that many UK workers are spending a great deal of time sitting – racking up an average of nine hours a day.
So it’s perhaps hardly surprising that when, in a separate survey, we asked workers about their daily activity levels, nearly half (45 per cent) admitted to falling short of the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise, five times a week.
Yet, stepping back, it’s no secret that sitting for prolonged periods of time can create muscle and joint problems and/or exacerbate existing ones – and there are links to certain health risks too, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
Fortunately we can, with a little commitment, get on the font 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.
Make it social
Try exercising with a like-minded colleague, or a small group. Support from others 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 10 employees feel this way. So choose your exercise buddies wisely and you’ll feel more comfortable and confident.
At AXA PPP healthcare we also found that embarrassment around poor fitness (25 per cent) 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 – and, before you know it, you could be well on your way to achieving those thirty minutes of exercise.
Find what works
Looking out for opportunities to “move more” during the working day will go a long way to improving your physical health without eating into work time. Whether you walk to the train station, bus stop or live close enough to walk to work every morning, try challenging yourself by varying your route to cover extra ground. And, the simplicity of opting for the stairs whenever you can is a great 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.
For more information to help support the health and wellbeing of your employees please visit: https://www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/small-business/advice/
1Online survey of 2,007 UK employees who use a chair during some or most of their working day, undertaken for AXA PPP healthcare in October 2016 by Atomik
2Research of 1,000 full-time employees undertaken in August 2017 by 3Gem for AXA PPP healthcare
3NHS Choices, ‘Why we should sit less’: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/sitting-and-sedentary-behaviour-are-bad-for-your-health.aspx
4 University of Cambridge, July 2016: An hour of moderate exercise a day enough to counter health risks from prolonged sitting: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/an-hour-of-moderate-exercise-a-day-enough-to-counter-health-risks-from-prolonged-sitting
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