My company have recently joined the revolution of making health and fitness a focus point within the workplace. We are encouraged to make our physical wellbeing a priority in our lives by committing to self-identified fitness targets and attend company run activities.
The reason for companies to encourage employees to be active is clear - There’s no shortage of science suggesting that exercise is good for your mental as well as your physical health. We understand and accept the benefits of physical activity and yet for many of us, incorporating exercise into our daily routines remains a struggle. But why? If we know that it is good for us, shouldn’t it be easier to adopt this habit?
Actually no. According to a recent study, it requires more brain power for humans to choose active behaviors over sedentary ones. Thus, it seems that we are naturally geared towards being lazy.
As a result of this, it is clear that those of us who struggle to incorporate exercise as a regular occurrence within their routine, would benefit from structures that promote your commitment to getting active. Here are some ideas that I’ve been trying out lately:
- Make a switch
Choose some sedentary activities that exist within your existing routine and switch this up for an active choice. For example, I’ve been getting off the subway one stop earlier than I need to. That way, I get in a quick morning walk, which has been helping to get my body moving, as well as providing a positive start to my day. Small changes like these are a structured way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine without making any significant changes. Because they are attached to habits you already have, they should be easier to make routine.
- Stress = Movement
Identify the most frustrating or stressful moments of your week and commit to moving immediately after this. It could be after a company board meeting or a call with your accountant. Whatever it may be, I guarantee that getting active in those moments of tension will have an outsize effect on your stress by catching it immediately and diffusing tension through movement.
- Work out while you watch TV
This is a regular in my routine because the part of my brain that says “go to the couch” is indulged, without skipping out on my workout. Plus, I find that the TV is a great distraction for my mind, which would usually be screaming at me to stop the lounges. If you need some inspiration, run a quick search online and there are plenty of home-style workouts for you. It only takes 20 minutes for a quick workout, and then you can retire to the couch.
I encourage you to try these for yourself. If getting active is to become a way of life, it's not about disrupting our lives - it's about making it a priority within our routines.
According to the researchers, picking physically active behaviors over sedentary ones actually requires more brain power than picking active behaviors over sedentary ones. Whether it’s evolutionary or cultural, our brains seem to be wired to have an easier time lying on the couch than running on the treadmill -- or even out in the park.