Guest Author: How To Bring an Active Lifestyle to Work

Seonaidh Jamieson, Cherry Tree Training 

 

It can often feel like we occupy a different body when training from the one we take to work with us.

When we are training we focus on our form, our technique and how our movements set us up for improvements and success… but how often do we think like this at work?

If you are anything like me it won’t be often - I work as a project manager for a leading conservation charity during the day. When I’m there my body plays second fiddle to the looming deadlines, emails and meetings.

When I leave a hard day of sitting still I can feel it. My body feels tight, lethargic and sore, but we don’t need to live like this.

Here are three ways that we can bring our active lifestyles to work.
1. Lunchtime walks

 

Research suggests that a brisk walk a day can reduce your risk of dementia, stroke and diabetes[1]? With that in mind it seems mad to miss the opportunity to stretch your legs.

If your office has a culture of working through lunch it can be hard to buck the trend. Your increased vitality, productivity and creativity in the hours following your lunchtime adventure will more than make up for any perceived losses in productive working time.

You may find yourself quite the trendsetter once others catch on to the wonders of the lunchtime wander.

 

2. Walking meetings

 

Once you’ve scoped out your lunchtime walking routes it is time to bring these to your working hours. Walking meetings not only look after your fitness and well-being, but also increase interpersonal connections between attendees, reduce the impact of hierarchical boundaries and increase creative thinking. Once you have hosted your first walking meeting you will be using them whenever you can!

There are, of course, meetings that won’t translate well to a walking meeting, but the following hints and tips will make them a valuable tool in your repertoire:

 

  • Keep group sizes small (three people maximum)
  • Have a destination or circular route in mind that fits your timescale - taking all attendees fitness levels into account
  • Use for brainstorming and decision making - not for reviewing that 100 page legal document
  • Have a clear agenda
  • Plan it in advance so attendees know to wear their waterproofs
  • Follow the pace of your slowest attendee and don’t be afraid to take breaks

 

3. Desk stretches

 

There will always be days that we struggle to get out and about, but these don’t need to put a stop on our goals to stay active. With care and consideration we can take small regular breaks to move and stretch our muscles, improving posture, alleviating discomfort and reducing that ‘sitting down too long’ lethargy.

Below are some of my favourite desk stretches:

Backwards shoulder rolls: By focusing on bringing our shoulders back and down we can wake up the muscles that relax when we hunch forwards, and lengthen the muscles that become tight and front in our chest.

Chest openers: Keeping your elbows by your sides, draw your shoulder blades back and down and open your forearms out (as though going for a very strange hug). Depending on where you are tight you will feel this in different parts of your chest, another good one for countering ‘desk posture’.

Seated cat-cows: Slowly bend your spine forwards and backwards, focusing on a smooth controlled movement. Do this in time with your breath for a meditative effect.

Torso twists: Slowly turn your body to face left then right. Use your muscles, not momentum, to activate your core muscles.

Seated lunge: This is particularly good for tight hip flexors. Slide to one side of your chair so you can stretch one leg below your body. Engage your glutes on that side and draw the leg back until you feel a stretch up the front of that leg. Remember to do both sides (and be very careful if you are on a chair with wheels!).

Wrist circles: Spending some time doing wrist circles with your hands together or apart is a great way to alleviate tension in your hands and lower arms.

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We only have one body, and knitting together our work and training life can help us keep it happy, healthy and fit for purpose. By fitting in small and regular doses of movement we can reduce the impacts of a sedentary job and reap the benefits when we train.

What are your favourite ways to keep active at work?

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Seonaidh is a personal trainer, pole dance instructor and conservationist. Working long and unpredictable hours means she understands the importance of training that suits the individual and that crosses into their working life. She started Cherry Tree Training in early 2018 to help people meet their fitness goals in a flexible, work friendly way. In 2019 she will be launching her full manual handling training offer for employers. To find out more visit:
 

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[1] Reporters, T. (2018). A life-saving stroll: the many health benefits of a daily walk. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/health-benefits-walking/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2018].

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