Finding the time to exercise and get active during your working week is so important. Especially if you spend much of your day sat at a desk.
When you consider how much of our waking life we spend at work, it’s no surprise that Public Health England (PHE) estimate 40% of people in England are not getting enough! With long commutes and hours spent in the office, it can be hard to find the time, and perhaps the motivation, to exercise during the working week… and come the weekend, you may just want to relax.
Workplace Health Week (23-27 May) is a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of exercising during the working week. Here are just some of the reasons why it’s so important for office workers to get active:
Did you know 1 in 6 deaths in the UK are a result of physical inactivity? Really shocking statistics from PHE. Government guidelines recommend we should be aiming to do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. This may seem like a lot if you’re new to exercise, but by breaking that down to just 30 minutes, 5 times a week, we can all try to get more active. Small changes can make a big difference such as; taking stairs instead of lifts, walking up escalators on the tube, going to speak to your colleagues rather than calling or emailing. Most importantly breaking up the day and taking your lunch break. Try using your lunch time to take a brisk walk, building up to a jog or run. It’s so important to make the time to get away from your desk and get your heart rate up.
Improves your posture
As you read this from your computer or mobile phone, notice your posture and position of your shoulders (Did you just straighten up?!). Hours at your desk with your shoulders hunched and rounded leads to weakened and stretched back muscles, and tightened muscles across your chest. Add in using your mouse on one side and over time this can cause muscle imbalances, back pain, tension and potential long term postural issues.
Pilates or Yoga are both great exercises to stretch tightened muscles and strengthen weaker ones. A good instructor will correct your posture as you move. Teaching in workplaces I am constantly reminding people to relax their shoulders.
Benefits for your mind and wellbeing
Exercise is just as important for your state of mind as well as your body. When you exercise your brain releases endorphins which can help lift your mood and reduce anxiety. So when work gets too much, taking some active time-out away from your desk and your inbox can make a huge difference. Helping to reduce your stress levels, make you feel calmer and more ready to face life’s challenges. Finishing the working day with exercise is a fantastic way to clear your mind and switch off before you get home.
Great for team building, boosting productivity and creativity
I’ve been teaching Pilates and fitness classes in workplaces for over 5 years and so many of my clients tell me how beneficial they find exercising during their lunch break or after work can be. I often hear how energised they feel and ready to take on the afternoon. It gets them away from their desks, makes them take their lunch break or finish work on time, which many say they wouldn’t always do. It’s always really lovely to see my clients laughing and chatting with their colleagues during classes – often meeting people from other teams they wouldn’t usually talk to. It really is great for team building, internal networking, and perhaps even offering a relaxed environment to give you the opportunity to casually ask your boss for that promotion!!…. So why not organise a weekly lunch time or after work class for you and your colleagues?!
Workplace Health Week is a great initiative run by Workplace Challenge in collaboration with County Sports Partnerships across England. Through the week the campaign is encouraging employers to focus on flexible working and active lunch breaks to help bring physical activity into and around the working day.
You can get involved and sign up to the Workplace Challenge at www.workplacechallenge.org.uk/
Julia Scodie is the Founder of Exercise in the City and has been practicing Pilates for over 9 years. Exercise in the City bring Pilates, Circuits, Zumba, Boot camp, Yoga and more to offices across London making it easy to fit exercise into your working day… so no excuses! Julia had the idea for Exercise in the City, as like many busy commuting Londoners, she found it hard to find the time to exercise. Julia left her Project Manager role in 2011 to set up Exercise in the City. Initially with just her teaching Pilates, but after reaching full capacity and seeing the demand for other classes too she recruited more great instructors who now teach in offices across London. She recently won Jacqueline Gold’s ‘Women in Business Award’ for Female Entrepreneurs.
Exercise in the City are supporting Workplace Health Week and offering London based organisations the chance to win fitness classes at their workplace. WeAreTheCity members can find out more and enter at www.exerciseinthecity.com