With almost 40% of South African adults risking their health by not getting enough exercise, this makes us vulnerable to chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
This is according to self-care advocate and Pharma Dynamics spokesperson, Nicole Jennings, who says that almost four in ten South African adults are risking their health by not exercising enough.
“Most employees blame their busy work/life schedules for not having enough time to exercise. While it’s difficult to carve out half an hour of exercise a day, it’s a must and something employers should encourage.”
How worker bees are keeping up
To squeeze exercise into her busy schedule, foodie Chanel Hamiel from Durban will take brisk walks in the mall during break times at her day job.
“My day is sitting at my computer 90% of the time,” she says. “Instead of sitting at my desk, I either go down to the mall or just take a walk anywhere.”
Louis Botha, an auditor from Kimberley, says that his company offers functional fitness programmes to keep staff motivated.
This is not his cup of tea though. Botha believes in setting scheduled times to exercise in the mornings or afternoons.
“I exercise for health reasons, cholesterol was something that started creeping up on me. I don’t need to worry about it but nevertheless I decided to change my habits.”
Here is how you can get exercise in at work
Exercise before, during and after working hours is important. Just working out once a day and being sedentary for the rest of the workday, isn’t enough, Jennings emphasises.
She suggests starting an office fitness routine to squeeze exercise into your day.
Some examples Jennings offers include:
- Stretching your head and neck to relieve tension
- Doing wrist stretches
- Seated leg raises
- Chair dips
- Calf raises
- Shadow boxing
- Opening your chest by stretching your arms passed your back
- Desk push ups
- Using a yoga ball is also a good way to keep your core activated throughout the day
- Stand while taking or making phone calls
- Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of phoning/texting or sending them an email
- Step away from your desk when taking a coffee break or eating lunch
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Go for a walk during your lunch break
Benefits of exercising at your desk
Studies show that even our mental firepower is linked to how physically active we are.
“Exercise also relieves stress, improves our mood by releasing endorphins (those feel-good hormones), makes our hearts and immune systems stronger, gives us more energy, keeps our weight in check and enhances our productivity.”
Exercise during regular work hours may also boost performance. “A few tweaks to your workday routine can make a big difference towards your health and inspires others to do the same,” she encourages.
“Research indicates that on days when employees go to gym, they generally have a more positive experience at work. They manage their time more effectively, are more productive, interact with colleagues better, and they feel more satisfied at the end of the workday.”
You can also expect the following results:
- Improved concentration
- Sharper memory
- Faster learning
- Prolonged mental stamina
- Enhanced creativity
- Lower stress levels
How to keep motivated
While it’s often difficult to find the time to exercise amid deadlines, chores and other responsibilities, Jennings suggests a few tried and tested strategies for staying motivated:
- Choose a sport or exercise that you enjoy.
- Set yourself a goal – whether it’s to improve muscle strength, cardio or prepare for a marathon. Mastering one activity goal will likely lead to the next.
- Join a gym, walking/running club, yoga group or dance class. Socialising makes exercise more fun and improves the chances of you sticking to it.
- Exercise with your spouse, a friend or colleague, so you can motivate each other.
- Set aside a specific time for exercise and schedule the rest of your day around it.