Keep Moving Suffolk highlight some simple ways of building some exercises into a busy working day, from waking up to going to bed.
It is well noted that exercise is good for both our physical and mental wellbeing. However, getting into a routine of any form of exercise can be challenging. Life can just get in the way and anyone with a long-term condition or mental health problem can find exercising almost impossible. There is also sometimes the added perception that exercising has to be complicated, time-consuming, expensive or ‘correctly’ dressed up for. It doesn’t!
So here we have explored some simple, gentle and affordable ways of easily introducing exercise into your working day, which fit around your schedule and current level of fitness.
Get Up Earlier
For some, first thing in the morning isn’t a time of feeling revived and ready for the day ahead. For those that find the morning a struggle, the suggestion of setting your alarm a few minutes earlier to embark on some exercise might sound painful! However, exercising in the morning can be a great way to gently ease you into the day.
If you are not naturally an early riser, approach the concept of getting up earlier as giving yourself some valuable ‘me-time’. Getting yourself into this mindset will help you as you introduce ten minutes of stretching, yoga or Pilates or simply getting into your shoes and going for a walk. This relatively small amount of time will help you feel more energised and clear away any fogginess – helping you start your day on a positive note.
For anyone who is no stranger to exercise but have simply got out of the habit, then getting those trainers on and going for a gentle jog might just be what you need! Again, start slowly and build up as you adjust to a new morning routine.
Taking some you time in the morning before the regular distractions that make demands on your time will benefit you immensely. It also gets it out of the way – often as the day progresses, things can crop up and our good intentions to fit in exercise at a later point get de-prioritised.
Getting To (and from) Work
Getting back into or introducing exercise into your life can take confidence, so jumping on a bike or walking to work could be a great way to build more movement into your day, especially if you are tight for time. If you use public transport one simple way to get some extra steps in and increase your heart rate is to get off a stop early and repeat this at the end of the day on the way home. Also check if your employer runs a Cycle to Work scheme which you could benefit from.
For some people there is no alternative to using the car as a way of getting to and from their workplace – particularly in a rural county like Suffolk. However, there are still a few simple ways in which you can make sure you keep your body active in the workplace.
Make sure you take regular screen breaks and stretch at your desk – so you aren’t sitting in the same position for long periods of time. In your lunch break try going for a walk, maybe with a colleague. You could also try and find a local exercise class to join if you can fit it into your lunch break. Or find one you can attend either before your work day starts or after it finishes.
Working from Home
For many people, work has become a lot more home-based, even as coronavirus restrictions are being eased. This has pros and cons for increasing your activity levels. It can mean that it is easier to fit an exercise session into your day – as you may have more flexibility in your hours. Also, the lack of commute time, may free up extra minutes which you can use for your exercise routine.
If you find it difficult to schedule a set time for any exercises, try to combine it with another activity. For instance, if you are preparing a meal, do some stretches while you are in the kitchen or have a little dance. It may help if you have an ‘exercise buddy’ such as another family member, friend, or a neighbour, as this will help provide you with motivation and encouragement when it gets hard to exercise. There are lots of free YouTube videos, and also good old-fashioned DVDs or online exercise series – which if you have a few you can rotate.
Add this to a walk once a week with a friend – which combines social connection and activity – and maybe a bike ride or something else physical you enjoy, and you have started a great routine.
There has been a lot of scientific debate about whether exercising just before you go to bed is a good idea or not. The consensus among researchers is that any fitness work should be completed at least an hour (preferably 90 minutes) before you go to bed, otherwise it may affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
The best types of exercises in the evening are therefore less strenuous ones; try some light stretches rather than a high-intensity workout, walking rather than running, and go for gentle short bike rides and runs rather than anything that is too physically demanding.
Weekends are most people’s downtime, where there are less deadlines to meet and/or pressure – hopefully at least. And although not everyone works Monday to Friday – due to shift work schedules, you can change the word weekend to mean your days off, if this applies to you!
Suffolk has so much picturesque countryside, it is a beautiful county full of amazing places to walk. Brisk walking counts as vigorous exercise, but just getting out and about in nature enhances wellbeing, helps to increase movement of your body and revitalises your soul.
You could also join a walking group – as a way to both move your body and also meet new people.
Horse-riding, swimming, golf, cycling – or simple gardening are all other enjoyable options.
Making Exercise Work for You
Every person is different – so the key to the above, is to find out the best times that suit you to exercise and also finding exercise options that you personally enjoy. For a lot of people regularity and routine are the key. For others, who have varying energy levels or erratic schedules, then flexibility may work better. One idea is to plan your exercise for the coming week into your calendar – so that it is as important a commitment as a meeting, call or social appointment. After all, looking after yourself, and practising self-care – is the ultimate way to stay healthy and will make you more productive and happier in all areas of your life – both personally and professionally.
Although the ideal amount of exercise to aim for is around 150 minutes per week, this can be built up to over time. A short walk once a week as a start, is better than no walk at all. Keeping a journal can help track your progress and set small increases to your activity as the weeks progress. And now is the ideal time to start focusing on this again as the days are getting longer, and hopefully the cold weather is almost fully behind us. So we encourage you to use this beautiful spring time to help you re-engage with more physical activity.
Browse this site for other useful tips and links on how to stay active.