According to On Your Feet Britain, 45% of women and 30% of men spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet at work. In the long term, this level of workplace inactivity can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems. Resulting, ultimately, in an overall reduction in life expectancy.
But desk dwellers need not despair. The positive news is that, according to studies, regular physical exercise may help to alleviate the negative impacts of sedentary working environments.
And exercise could do more than simply offset the risks of sitting at a desk all day. In fact, it may contribute to an altogether more rewarding and effective work life.
Here’s why exercise is so important for office workers (or anyone who sits down a lot, really).
Exercise makes you more productive
Amongst other things, exercise makes us more alert, gives us energy, and helps us maintain emotional balance.
When we exercise, blood flow to the brain increases which gives us the mental boost necessary for tackling a hard day’s work. It’s also widely acknowledged that regular exercise can help keep our mental health in check. Which is especially useful for office workers, considering that one of the major contributors to modern mental health issues is work-related stress.
So by exercising regularly we stand to improve both our mental and emotional wellbeing. Which, in turn, may increase our motivation and enthusiasm to work!
It also improves concentration and memory
We’ve all experienced the mid-afternoon slump. Reading an email four times in a row, completely unable to focus our attention on account of our post-lunch fatigue. But exercise may help us see the end of that problem.
In one interesting study from HEC Montreal, researchers found that workers who walked on a treadmill whilst reading text and emails not only perceived themselves to be more attentive, but actually demonstrated increased levels of memory and attention.
Another study, this one by UCI researchers, showed that a single burst of moderately intense exercise improves all-round memory function.
It enhances cognition
Other research has shown that regular aerobic exercise actually increases the size of the hippocampus. That’s the part of the brain associated with learning and verbal memory.
Investigators have found that irisin (a molecule believed to have neuroprotective effects) is elevated in the brain though endurance exercise. Experimenting on mice, they “found that raising levels of irisin in the circulation caused the molecule to cross the blood brain barrier, which then increased the expression of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and activated genes involved in cognition.”
The results of these investigations suggest that increasing BDNF improves cognition and prevents the brain from degeneration. And it seems like one way to encourage this increase is by exercising.
Also, of course, improvements in cognition means improvements in work!
Small changes can make a big difference
Get Britain Standing says that just a few tweaks to our workday can make a big difference to our health. Here are some minor things we can do around the office for positive change:
- Standing for phone calls.
- Using the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
- Taking a standing break from your desk every 30 minutes.
- Conducting standing/walking meetings.
- Stepping away from the desk to eat lunch.
- Walking to colleagues’s desks instead of phoning/email them.
Get up off the desk!
There’s nothing like exercise to keep us feeling healthy, happy, and productive. If you work in Jesmond and are looking to get more active, why not take advantage of our Corporate Membership? It includes access to all our facilities, 10% off Pilates and massage therapies, and a complimentary 30 minute personal training session. Get in touch today on 0191 281 2482 for more details!