The summer break is a chance for many people to spend more time outdoors – on a beach, walking in the countryside or playing in the back garden with their children. And it’s not just the warm air that makes us feel better, but the increased activity. And perhaps because these activities are fun, we hardly notice that we’re adding exercise to our daily routine and improving our health.
This increase in exercise doesn’t have to stop after the summer holidays when we return to work. Raising your daily step count – either on the way to work or once there – dramatically decreases the risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure(1) as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
Each one of us can make an impact – as if you multiply yourself by 29 million (the number of people in employment according to the latest government figures)(2) the idea starts to make a lot of sense!
Here are a few more stats to consider these:
It’s generally agreed that as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can improve general health, so a 15-minute walk to the bus stop or railway station at the beginning and end of the is certainly a step in the right direction.
Is it possible to walk to work a couple of times a week? Or get off the bus, train or tube one or two stops earlier or park further away from work? In addition to the benefits gained from walking you can use the time productively to gather your thoughts and plan the day ahead, or transition from work to home mode to ensure a relaxed evening.
Of course it isn’t always feasible to walk to work but could you pop out for a ‘power-walk’ around the block at lunch time? Get into the habit of popping a pair of trainers (and maybe a kagool!) into your work bag. Performance garments are also a great investment as the wicking fabric draws moisture from the body meaning the body stays cooler whilst walking/exercising.
When you have 10 minutes, watch this brilliant video called 23 and ½ hours (3) video by Dr. Mike, it offers great facts and figures about the health benefits of walking (and the illustrations are also pretty amazing too!)
Here’s a fun idea that can be brought into the workplace to add a little ‘healthy’ competition to daily proceedings: a ‘Step Count Challenge.’
The average person walks between 3-4,000 steps per day.(4) According to the organisation Health at Work initiating a Step Challenge is a great way to get staff more active, boost morale and at the same time it’s likely to benefit office productivity too. They’ve also produced a great Toolkit(5) which gives all the information and advice you need to start your own Pedometer Challenge!
Once you’ve decided to launch a Step Count Challenge at work, invite staff to a launch meeting and hand out notebooks and pens and go over the rules and guidelines for the challenge. Staff will also need a pedometer or a smartphone app to measure the steps taken.
You could consider incentivising teams too, for example give the team with the highest step count sports bottles half way through the challenge then at end of the Challenge give the winning team a sports bag each or perhaps a donation of cash to send to a charity of their choice.
However you and your team choose to do it, increasing your footsteps improves health, morale and productivity while reducing stress and your carbon footprint.
(2) Office for National Statistics. Web 9 Aug 2013
(3) Dr. Mike’s Med School for the Public “New Year’s Resolutions” Web 9 Aug 2013.
(4) NHS. Web 9 Aug 2013. The 10,000 steps challenge. Web 9 Aug 2013.
(5) Health at Work. Walk to Work Step Count Challenge Toolkit. Web 9 Aug 2013.