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Are You Aware Of The Importance Of A Lunchtime Walk?
Simple exercise such as a lunchtime walk reduces anxiety and improves state of mind for better performance at work
We all get told that regular and moderate exercise is helpful in reducing physical illnesses, such as heart disease and obesity, but it’s positive effect on mental health is often missed. The impact of exercise on performance at work and reduced employee absence is proven by research.
Mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, are all too common in the workplace and it is the leading cause of sickness absence. According to the TUC mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people. It is likely that you work with someone who has a mental illness.
Although employee wellbeing is moving up many organisations’ priorities and the ‘taboo’ stigma is reducing, UNUM’s research has found that 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.
Just simple exercise reduces anxiety and improves the state of mind. It enhances clearer thinking, provides improved self-esteem and can significantly reduce the risk of depression. A win-win for both employer and employee then. Although going to the gym or playing sports after work is most commendable, why don’t employers encourage regular and moderate physical activity during work? It is not a definitive answer to solving mental health issues, but it costs nothing and can only enhance the organisation’s reputation to current and future employees.
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Before we think about buying a new pair of trainers, moderate does not mean training for the London Marathon, having an objective to play on the centre court at Wimbledon or planning on bettering Adam Peaty’s swimming world records! Just a brisk walk around the block will suffice. We are not talking about an organised and competitive race. The NHS Guidelines for adults to stay healthy is at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity every week. This equates to 30 minutes on 5 days of every week, or perhaps part of your lunch break.
The working environment is often stressful and extremely busy, there are many reasons why you should encourage your employees to have fun in the workplace, but time out of the workplace to go for a brief walk around the block may also be beneficial in the long-term. Even if your job means that you spend time on your feet already, a few minutes of‘ ‘me time’ can be enough to de-stress too.
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HR can play its part by encouraging cultural change from the top, recommending employees taking a break, developing a Wellbeing Policy and communicating the benefits. Research by the CIPD suggests that the promotion of staff physical well-being will have to change over the next five years to adapt to an ageing population. On average we spend around 35 hours per week at work. Surely, we can find ‘me time’ and employers should be encouraging their staff to do so.