Lockdown in January: Encouraging employees to stay active

With mindfulness, we can all be better equipped to handle the overwhelming nature of January 2021, and the varying demands of our lives. In our blog below, Michelle Daltry, our Senior Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, builds on this theme by sharing her positive approach to new year’s resolutions, the importance of physical activity and some fantastic motivation to get us all moving. It has been proven that employers who encourage and support employees to be more active and support their wellbeing see lower sickness and absence rates and higher productivity and workplace satisfaction levels (Healthy Working Lives).

I’d like to start by sharing the Inclusive Employers Top Tips for staying active and being kind to ourselves in January 2021. You can download these here to share with your teams and colleagues.

  • It is recommended that adults exercise 5 x 30mins per week.  For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer.
  • Do what you enjoy!!  We aren’t all elite athletes who can run a marathon before breakfast so do more of what you enjoy.  Brisk walks, cycling and even cleaning or gardening can all contribute to your 150mins of exercise per week.
  • Factor in a “commute to work” – if you are working from home then that down time while you travel may be gone.  Spend the time you would normally be travelling to do something for yourself – maybe a quick walk before you sit at your desk and start your working day.
  • Be kind to yourself – sometimes our days are too busy or we just can’t muster the motivation to go out in the cold.  And that’s ok, just make a commitment to yourself for the next day.
  • Set a target – this can be as simple as to get out of the house for a walk at least 5 days a week or you may want to push yourselves harder.  Did you know the recommended step count for an adult is 10,000 steps per day?!!!
  • Find a plan that will motivate you.  There are plenty of free online resources that can help you to begin to be more active:
    • The “Couch to 5km” app is a great tool for those who want to start or restart running
    • The Joe Wickes “PE with Joe” is free daily on his “Body Coach” YouTube Channel and is great for the whole family
  • We know that exercising with friends can help with motivation and lockdown can really hinder this, so why not set up a group with friends, family or colleagues and share your progress and successes.  Include extra challenges like taking pictures of random objects or wildlife while exercising outdoors.
  • Take breaks from your desk. Regular breaks will improve our wellbeing and our productivity, more doesn’t always equal more so take a lunch break and step away from your work to recharge your batteries.
  • And finally stay hydrated.  Lots of water will help you recover from exercise, increase energy, relieve fatigue, flush out toxins and aid weight loss.

Starting 2021 in a full lockdown was not the dream start to the New Year we had hoped for. This time round we have shorter days, limited (if any) sunshine and often less motivation to step outside of our front doors.

If you are anything like me, January usually starts with a long list of New Year’s Resolutions which I have usually failed on most of by the middle of the month.  This year I’ve decided to take a different approach, one that is more mindful of the things I am proud of from 2020, resolutions that are more reinforcements of positive behaviours and actions, and a promise to myself to do more of those.

For many of us, working from home significantly impacts on our physical activity levels.  Our step counts are lower, we may have limited reasons to legitimately leave the house and certainly in our house there is a surplus of naughty and tempting food calling out to us on a daily basis.

It is proven that physical activity has multiple benefits including:

  • Physical and mental health benefits
  • Improvements in sleep patterns
  • Increased productivity in work and home life
  • Reductions in frequency and severity of seasonal illness
  • Boosting self-esteem and mood

The NHS have described inactivity as the silent killer which highlights the importance of staying healthy and active in these challenging times.

Here’s to a happier and healthier 2021!