The wonderful festive season is nearly upon us and whilst we all intend to relax, indulge and fully enjoy ourselves this winter; to avoid a festive frazzle we want to reiterate just how important it is to NOT hibernate. Instead, we need to ensure we continue to stay active and better still, be active outdoors whenever we can!
Here at Tonic, we have written many articles boasting the benefits of being more active (or less inactive). Research suggests that sitting for long periods of time slows down the metabolism, which in turn affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
Many adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying, and this typically increases with age to 10 hours or more. NHS
So, how many hours a day do you spend sitting down? Take the Move More Sit Less Calculator to find out.
Most of us understand how important it is to be more active and the multitude of benefits this can have on our physical and mental health. However, how many actual changes have you made to ensure that you are standing more and sitting less? Yes it is colder, wetter and darker so the temptation to cycle to work, take long walks with your pooch in the park is less and less; yet we must find ways to fit exercise into our daily lives this winter. Yes, it’s gloomy and dark. But that shouldn’t stop us from getting outdoors and moving!
Here are some of the lesser known benefits we want to share with you about moving more OUTSIDE:
Your body works harder to warm itself up when it’s exposed to colder temperatures. This means that your body is burning more calories as your heart works harder and results in a better work out and endurance for when warmer weather comes around.
Part of the reason behind cold and flu viruses striking so hard in the winter is because everyone is subjected to each other’s germs, which is passed on person to person, whilst we all coop up inside and out of the cold. Spending time outside in fresh air will minimise your chances of breathing in recycled germs and becoming ill as a result. Furthermore, regular exercise boosts your immune system, giving your body a better chance of fighting off any unwanted bacteria.
It is well known that being outside in natural environments can not only reduce any stress you may be feeling from the hectic nature of modern lifestyles, but will also improve your mood. The dark nights and grey, dreary weather majorly limits our intake of Vitamin D leading to a drop in serotonin levels. You can dramatically improve your mood by getting outside in the colder weather, or even better, engaging in physical activities such as surfing or kayaking. The boost you will get from making the most of the daylight as well as the endorphins produced from exercise is bound to leave you feeling happier and less stressed than before.
The long, dark winters often leave us feeling sluggish – particularly after a festive feast or five in December! Exercise is likely to improve your energy levels during the day, which in turn will allow you to fall asleep earlier and easier at night. Wake up feeling well-rested and full of energy, all the better for more outdoor adventures the following day!
Don’t let winter be a time for hibernation. Brave the sub-zero temperatures and brave the great outdoors!
Depending on the type of work you do, it can be much harder to ensure you are active during your working day. However, if you do have an office or desk based role, here are some quick and simple changes that you can incorporate into your daily workplace routines. They key is to remember it is the small things (steps) that make the difference!
Sitting for extended periods of time can increase your risk of diabetes, obesity and heart problems. Set an alarm and stand every 30 minutes or every hour to reduce your risk, burn calories and prevent lower back pain.
By working on your legs and core muscles, you actually burn more calories throughout the day, even when your body is at rest. So take squat breaks and tone your butt!
It might not seem like much, but sometimes walking around your office or even the building or floor can provide a new perspective and allow your mind to clear. Set goals for yourself so you can find new ways to walk around and stay on track.
Stretching is one of the simplest and most beneficial exercises to incorporate into your daily work and life schedule. It doesn’t even require getting up out of your seat. There are stretches you can do regardless of where you are. As an added bonus, stretching isn’t just good for your body but can also help relieve stress. Just ask your Tonic Trainer about our Smooth Move (Physical Activity Workshop)!
A quick motion that can make all the difference at work is to correct your posture. Un-hunch your back, retract (back) and lower (down) your shoulders, tilt your pelvis and sit with your feet flat on the floor. This simple alteration can help prevent back problems and prevent bodily fatigue when working long hours. It also keeps your back flexible and able to withstand exercises you do throughout the day. Ask your Tonic Practitioner about our Perfect Posture exercise!
If you have meetings on another floor ALWAYS take the stairs.. It might seem tedious and maybe even arduous at first, but eventually it’ll get easier and become the norm! Soon you might even sprint up the steps and beat the lift to your floor. Even if you don’t have to use the lift and your desk is on the first floor, climb the stairs anyway, either before work or during breaks! #movemore
Switch your office chair for a stability ball. Just make sure it is tall enough to allow for good posture. Sitting on uneven surfaces can engage your core muscles and keep them working throughout the workday.
Stand up at least once every hour. Stretch your arms over your head and breathe deeply. If standing isn’t an option, do seated stretching and extend your legs on the floor out in front of you. Gently bend over to touch your toes.
Taking calls all day can be boring and repetitive. Break the cycle by getting up and walking around. This is especially helpful if you are on hold. By using phone calls as a reminder to stand, you can more easily make standing or walking around a regular part of your workday without much effort.
Get your colleagues involved and make it a challenge to be more active together. It’s always easier to make healthy choices when you’re doing it as a group and you have that support network there motivatingyou. Track your steps and see who can walk the most in a day, or you could organise group walks at lunchtime, or make a rule that every hour on the hour you all stand up and do ten squats.
Humans are built to stand upright. Your heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively that way. Better Health
Download our ‘Why You Should Be Physically Active‘ poster below:
Find out more about what happens to our bodies when we spend too long sitting down in one position. DOWNLOAD OUR ‘DON’T JUST SIT THERE’ PDF HERE or visit our blog for more tips and advice on how to get more active.
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