4 min read
It sounds so easy. Thirty minutes, five times a week. That’s all you need (sort of) to stay fit. But it rarely ever happens.
So what’s preventing us from exercising more often? For many of us the answer is simple: “We don’t have time!”
In fairness, this is a legitimate explanation. There are days/weeks when work can be overwhelming with emails stacking up and deadlines to meet. But what we really mean when we say we don’t have time is that we don’t consider working out for your wellbeing as a priority in our daily regime.
Instead of seeing exercise as a luxury, a personal indulgence that takes us away from our work, it’s time we started considering physical activity as part of our working day.
I’m lucky enough to work in an organisation that embraces this, in fact recently our CEO wrote an article on the most important meeting of his day being with his personal trainer!
When we think about the benefits of exercise, the first things that tend to spring to mind are the physical benefits such as lower blood pressure and a healthier heart. But that’s not all, studies indicate that mentally we are sharper if we exercise regularly too. A few benefits: Showing improved concentration, sharper memory, enhanced creativity and prolonged mental stamina. I can’t think of anywhere where all these improvements would be more relevant than in the workplace.
Now, your gym stop might not be the most important meeting of your day, but it is possible to incorporate it into your daily routine with a little flexibility:
Here are some tips to get you started:
Nobody says that you have to be up at 5 a.m. doing bootcamp in the park, or cycling 15 miles to work and back clad in Lycra (though we won't stop you!). The most important thing is to find something that works for you. That you enjoy and that you can look forward too. This really is your personal choice, whether you enjoy sport, being outdoors, exercising at home or in the gym, taking part in group exercise or getting out and about with your children. You are far more likely to stick with an activity if you genuinely enjoy doing it.
Our daily routines become just that: Routine. It's essential. We wouldn’t leave the house in the morning before something like brushing our teeth, right? We create this habit from a very young age and it forms part of our daily routine.
The same thought can apply to your work out schedule. Set a time for your exercise that you can stick to. If you work on a calendar schedule - block your workout time in as “busy.” This way you won’t be tempted to book a meeting at this time and others will know you’re not available. If you know that you have a busy social/work life in the evenings don’t pick this as your workout time as this is likely to be pushed aside by entertaining. Pick a time and a place that you know is going to be easy to stick to.
Whichever way you decide to get your exercise be realistic; if you’re not doing anything at all right now don’t set yourself a goal of five sessions a week, start with maybe two. When you complete those two sessions, you'll feel a better sense of achievement from a very approachable goal. If you make it to a third session, then WOW! You’ve already exceeded your own expectations and will feel amazing great motivation for your next week and thereafter. But set yourself 5 sessions and only achieve three and you’re starting off on a negative and likely to lose motivation. So do what motivates you, in approachable, realistic goals.
Remember, your health is not a nice to have or a personal indulgence. Quite the opposite, you will undoubtedly perform better both inside and outside of work with a healthy regime of exercise. And there’s no better time to start than today, but don’t just take my word for it - try it yourself. Set yourself a 28 day challenge of incorporating exercise as part of your daily routine and just see how much better you feel.
Lucy Tallick has a background in wellbeing strategy for corporations, as well as time spent as a fitness coach and trainer. Lucy is our UK-based wellbeing expert at Reward Gateway.