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Moving more at work for our mental health

In line with this year's Mental Health Awareness Week's theme, we offer some simple suggestions for moving more at work.

As the months seems to have swiftly slipped by this year, we already find ourselves in mid-May which means we are also in the midst of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week.

Initially, this year’s theme of movement and moving more for our mental health, may seem more relevant to adopt during our personal time than our working hours. However, it is well recognised that incorporating movement at regular intervals throughout our working day can help not only our mood but also our concentration and productivity.

From an employers’ point of view, the mental and physical health of their workforce is crucial for increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and building a positive reputation as an appealing place to work. Many employees can spend as much as three-quarters of their time sitting which is known to contribute to avoidable health issues including two of the main reasons for absence from work - back injuries and stress, anxiety or depression.

In truth, we probably already know these arguments for why we should be moving more. We’ve seen the headlines about sitting becoming the new smoking. How each of us achieves it whilst juggling our many other commitments is another matter and one which we should perhaps be kinder and less disparaging about.

So, for any of us who need a bit of a ‘jog’ to gently increase our daily movement, here are a few suggestions that can help us build some valuable habits into every day.

Three ideas to incorporate into our day to help with moving more at work:

  1. Find incentives rather disincentives
    Although walking 10,000 steps is the daily figure that has become embedded in our brains, a worldwide study last year found that anything from 4000 steps can provide health benefits. So, if 10,000 feels too onerous, aiming for this lower marker can still provide us with a boost to our physical and mental health. And rather than beating ourselves up with feelings of guilt or negativity for missing out on the higher figure, we can feel satisfied that we have helped ourselves by achieving 4000 steps and build on that.
  2. Desk stretches
    We all know the feeling of tight muscles, aches and pains from sitting too long in one position. Setting a timer to remind us to get up and move around a little every hour can help allay this. Adding in a few stretches that can be carried out at or beside a desk is even better. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has some quick and easy suggestions when that hourly timer goes off in this post.
  3. Heel lifts
    Can be carried out while standing at our desk or at a worktop while boiling the kettle or washing our hands. If we need it, we can use the surface in front of us to help our balance. Standing hip width apart and raising our heels so we are balancing on our toes, can be repeated in series of 10 elevations every few hours. Focussing on something other than our screens whilst we do it will offer the additional benefit of giving our eyes a chance to recover from screen time.

Two previous articles to help build movement into our working day

One idea if you’re looking for a  team movement activity

Generations of Japanese people have learnt all or part of the Rajio Taiso 3-minute stretching routine. It is designed to work out many of the body’s muscles and is broadcast daily at 6.30am on national radio and practised in parks, workplaces and schools. Some believe it a major contributor to longevity in their country. With its recognisable music, many particularly enjoy the social aspect of including it in their day as well as its accessibility, being suitable for those with mobility issues. If you would like to give it a try, this resource from The Japan Society includes a video of the routine.

 

This tip appeared in our Spring 2024 newsletter. Many other mental health, resilience and wellbeing tips are available on our website – please have a browse to find some that work for you.

Equilibrium Associates Limited (In Equilibrium) will not accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience arising as a consequence of any use of or the inability to use any information on this website. We are not responsible for claims brought by third parties arising from your use of in-equilibrium.co.uk

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