With most of the country spending their time indoors, coupled with the closure of gyms, most of us are finding it difficult to stay active and get regular exercise. While there has been a lot of focus on mental wellbeing surrounding the third lockdown in the UK, physical wellness also plays a significant part in a person’s overall wellbeing. Research has shown that physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed. With the sun finally coming up sooner and going down later – the best way to get moving is by a simple 10 minute walk a day.
One of the biggest benefits of walking is that it gives us a moment in our day to relax and not focus on anything except you and your surroundings. Walking also boosts your feel good chemicals (endorphins) which results in feelings of happiness.
Linking in to the point above, the feel good chemicals that are released during the exercise can help people with anxiety to help you feel calmer. With most of us working from home, if we’re feeling stressed being cooped up in the same place for too long probably doesn’t help.
Walking helps to increase blood flow throughout your body particularly for your muscles and brain, which makes you feel more energised. If working from home has made you feel tired and fatigued, a walk everyday could help to combat that.
Regular exercise helps to regulate sleeping patterns and creates a more restful night’s sleep, meaning a 10 minute walk each day can help you catch better z’s.
Being in lockdown means that many of us are constantly glued to our phones responding to friends or even work emails, as it’s the only way for us to stay connected while being physically apart. However, it’s good to find the time and space to switch off and do things for yourself – going for a walk helps to give you the space your mind needs away from work and people to help you to enter a more mindful state – something which has been proven to benefit mental health.
Let employees know that it’s perfectly OK to do one to one conversations while you’re taking a walk (given you don’t need to share screens and the conversation is based on the phone). You can even make it part of your routine – scheduled one-to-one walks.
Making employees aware of the benefits of taking a walk, and taking care of their physical health generally – especially during lockdown – can help to encourage people to take more walks. Posting articles or sources with information and tips for walking and exercise in an easy to access area is a good starting point. If walking isn’t for everyone, there’s plenty of resources and videos online to help people stay active – for example through yoga and aerobics.
Create fun tasks and challenges that everyone can participate in – for example setting a challenge of who can find the nicest view or most interesting thing while on their walk, and getting employees to take photos and post them on a Slack channel will help to make walking fun and engaging.
During a time where we have to make an extra effort to stay connected, scheduling a particular time of the day that’s welcome to everyone to participate in is a great way for people to socialise and connect as well as the perfect excuse to go for a walk.
Although most of us can’t physically be together, you can set up an organisation wide fund-raising event where people walk a certain distance to raise money for charity collectively. It’s a great way to encourage people to be active as well as helping to lift team spirits.
Sometimes it’s the small changes that make the biggest difference – if you think about it, 10 minutes isn’t a long time at all to dedicate everyday to your physical wellness. Planning a route before you leave to go for a walk or even making a goal of how many steps a day that you want to do can help give you the kick start you need to put on your shoes and go for that walk.