Today is the launch of Flexible Working Day, which provides us with an opportunity to celebrate and showcase how flexible working can benefit all...
#FWDay2017 – The role of Exercise in Flexible Working
As an exercise scientist, I am a huge supporter of flexible working There is so much evidence linking regular exercise with many positive health outcomes that benefit both the employee and employer. Having flexibility within your work day to exercise is a win-win situation. Staff that exercise regularly are fitter and healthier, less likely to...Read More »
Staff that exercise regularly are fitter and healthier, less likely to take sick leave, recover quicker when they do, have more strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, report better sleep, suffer less back pain and have been shown to be more productive in their day.
However, it’s more challenging fitting exercise into your life, if you do not have flexibility within your work schedule, so a good starting point is to have these conversations at work.
Here are some simple ideas to consider. No need to try them all at once! Just start with one idea that feels right to you.
Plan your exercise
International physical activity guidelines generally recommend around 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. Health benefits have been shown with less than this so just start with doing something, no matter how small. Diarise time each week for exercise – eg start work later 3 days a week and exercise before work. If you are not a morning person, finish work earlier a few days a week and exercise on your way home. Put this exercise “appointment” into your diary just as you would do for a business meeting. It may also save you hours each week sitting in traffic!
Take active lunch breaks
Evidence shows that getting up from your desk, being active and, even better, getting outdoors is very beneficial throughout your work day. Whilst some more active work places have touch footy comps and running groups at lunch time, you can start small. Simply walk away from work in one direction for ten minutes then turn around and come back. That’s all it takes. (Oh, and some comfortable walking shoes help too). Go by yourself or invite a colleague and your group may grow. If your office is not in an area conducive to walking, consider going to a yoga or group fitness class. Many lunch time classes are 30-45minutes so you have time to eat and shower too.
Socialise your exercise
Socialising and exercising are a perfect match so, instead of office drinks, plan something active and fun for your next work social function. It can really be anything like an after work salsa class, a day out of the office hiking, team walking activities like treasure hunts, a social day of tennis or something more challenging like rock climbing. Ask your colleagues for ideas and take an office vote – early collaboration in these types of activities tends to yield higher participation rates, plus great ideas. Before you know it, you may all be training for a local Charity Event while raising awareness and money for a great cause. Don’t underestimate the willingness of your work colleagues to get active for charity.
Sit less, stand up, walk more
Sitting has been called “the new smoking” because of the health risks it delivers. So, if you are having trouble getting the flexibility in your work day to exercise, try some of these ideas for slotting in more physical activity. Consider standing meetings when you only need to meet colleagues for less than 15mins. Try walking meetings for discussions where no note taking is required. Have one central bin area, rather than individual bins, so everyone has more opportunities to walk when disposing of their rubbish throughout the day. Apply for building approval to leave the stair well unlocked so people can use the stairs rather than the lift and encourage this behaviour by placing reminder posters around the lift area. Put an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move for 5mins after every 60mins of sitting. This can really add up – over an 8hour work day, you get 40mins more physical activity.
I strongly encourage you to start these conversations in your workplace. Brainstorm with your colleagues more ways to increase physical activity into every work day plus how to create a more flexible working environment that encourages regular planned exercise. Then, lead by example. Australia’s Flexible Working Day on Wednesday 21st June is the perfect time to start!
#FWDay2017 | #FlexWorkFullLlife | #TackleFlexism
Martha Lourey-Bird MSpSc, BSpSc(ExSc)
With her Master’s degree, Martha is a qualified exercise scientist, university lecturer, scientific adviser, fitness editor, corporate wellness presenter, sport’s coach, author and proud mum to her very own fit kids.
Martha has a knack for finding easy ways to improve your health in your everyday life, no matter what your lifestyle is like or how busy you are – at home or work. Give her the problem and she will help you find an active solution.
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