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The health benefits of regular movement are well documented and can’t be talked about enough.

Author: Josie Nancarrow, Exercise Physiologist & Rachel Ahern, Psychologist

Did you know that within minutes of sitting your calorie consumption drops to one per minute and all the metabolic processes in your body slow down?

By moving regularly at work, that is moving for 3 minutes for every 60 minutes of sitting, you are decreasing your risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Weight gain

You are also improving your mood, focus, concentration, productivity and metabolism which enhances both your physical health and psychological wellbeing!

So, why is it that we know we need to move regularly throughout the day, but we never do?

  • Confidence – this can be a significant barrier to engaging in any form of physical activity in the workplace.

“Team members who have limited exercise experience are likely to feel intimidated by the physical capabilities of their colleagues and worry about the negative perceptions of others" People Sense Psychologist, Rachel Ahern

  • Time – with our busy workloads and personal lives, who has time to fit in physical activity? “Not me” most people say.

For many of us, physical activity takes a back seat to work and personal obligations, as well as relaxing activities such as hobbies and socialising. Commuting, shift work, break frequency and lack of energy due to job strain can further impact our capacity to exercise.

  • Motivation – many of us perceive exercise as boring and as such are unlikely to prioritise and participate in exercise. We are more motivated to participate in activities that are both social and competitive and to participate in group-based activities to avoid letting others down.
  • Physical Environment – you have decided you would like to exercise more frequently, engaged with some colleagues for support, set team goals and a team challenge. But then you realise your physical work environment is limited.

Thankfully, you don’t need a lot of space for simple exercises!
Stand up and move about, walk a lap of the office or better yet go outside for a walk, get a glass of water, shake your arms/touch your toes, stretch with your office chair and more!

How can we work as a collective team to change the culture and make physical activity in the workplace normal and acceptable?

  1. Develop activities that can be adapted to all abilities and skill levels.
  2. Prior to physical activity, provide gentle encouragement to team members hesitant to participate, however be mindful not to force participation.
  3. Provide encouragement and praise to all participants regardless of skill level.
  4. Encourage short, sharp, regular bursts of physical activity to increase energy levels and overcoming the barrier of time.
  5. Promote team-based exercise activities to increase fun, engagement and social support. Add a competitive component that considers all skills levels, recognising frequency of participation rather than skill achievement.
  6. Ask yourself, what can we do with the space that we have? Whether you are an elite athlete or new to physical activity, small increases in your physical activity can promote health benefits.

The above activities can be completed in work environments with limited space. Start by doing these activities in the workplace at a set time per day, gently encouraging your colleagues to participate, progressively turn them into a team challenge and remember to acknowledge individual and group achievements.

“Regardless of whether you work in an office at a desk, in a yard on the tools, or driving for hours on end, regular stretches help us stay in tune with our body, release stress and tension from our mind and muscles, and enhance focus by breaking up the day” OccHealth Exercise Physiologist, Josie Nancarrow.

To learn more about how Occhealth and PeopleSense can assist your workplace in changing the culture around exercise, please contact us on 1800 258 487.

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