What’s your exercise regime? Do you even have one or do good intentions falter under the pressure of work? If exercise falls into the occasional rather than regular category then two reports which have come out in the last month may give you pause for thought.
The first from the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that worldwide a lack of exercise is putting one in four people at risk from a range of conditions including heart disease, some cancers and type-2 diabetes. More worryingly, although this global figure is little changed from 2001 the report says that the higher the income country, the more likely we are to be sedentary. For example, in the UK 36% of people (32% men, 40% women) are now classed as being inactive; undertaking less than 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
What’s the solution? Well it seems as though we may do well to take the lead from the recently concluded Tour of Britain and get on our bikes. A study from America has concluded that people who exercise regularly report 43% fewer days of poor mental health than those who don’t exercise. Perhaps unsurprisingly those taking part in team sports fare best, benefitting from the social aspect of team work as well as the exercise, but cyclists aren’t far behind. So if time pressures and schedules prevent attendance at team practices and matches, then cycling is a good alternative.
Better still, you don’t need to cycle a lot to help your mental health levels. The researchers concluded that 45 minutes of exercise undertaken between three and five times a week is associated with the lowest risk to mental health. Exceed those levels and the researchers say you won’t gain any extra benefit.
With that in mind, in a technology-led always-on world how do we free up enough time to fit in three 45 minute cycles each week? Well, one way is to take a leaf out of the technology book and take some processes online. For example, why spend time in invoicing when payment card information can be taken at the time of booking? Similarly, why spend time in manual filing and retrieving of documents when an online system can make records available at the touch of a button?
Even small tweaks such as these can add up to a measurable time saving. And even if you don’t spend every freed up minute on exercise, the extra free time could be used to enhance your work/life balance. Either way, with work pressures reduced it could go some way towards helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle which in turn brings good mental and physical benefits. And of course, when we feel good then it is far easier to project a positive image which in turn helps those colleagues and clients who we come into contact with on a regular basis.
What’s your exercise regime? Getting on our bikes may not be the right solution for all of us but nevertheless maybe it is time to look again at how we exercise and stand up for the health of the nation.