Health: Making a break for fitness in the working day

Taking exercise during the day boosts wellbeing.
Taking exercise during the day boosts wellbeing.
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Schedule exercise into your diary, says Lynsey Charleston.

We all know regular exercise is important, but finding time to do it isn’t always easy, especially if you have a long commute, work irregular shift patterns or have children to look after.

The answer could lie where you least expect it, in the very place you think is stopping you getting fit – the office.

Many of us spend the bulk of our days at work, which can mean hours slouched over a desk or slumping into a chair.

The latest survey from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed men and women average six or more hours of total sedentary time every day, with men more likely to cite work commitments as a barrier, while lack of leisure time was the barrier most cited by women.

But incorporating exercise into your workday is a great way of not impacting on your time after work, while also helping ‘undo’ some of the damage of a sedentary job. It also promotes the management of stress and reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50 per cent.

Not everybody has the luxury of a full one-hour lunch break every day, but even a short break can be turned into a wellbeing-booster.

If you are short on cash, how about getting outside for a run? If you are close to a park then jog around it, while benches and steps can be used to break up the run with exercises like push-ups.

Even a gentle, 15-minute jog can burn more than 100 calories, while a faster, 30-minute run could burn four times this amount. Interval running has greater fat-burning benefits than a slow, steady pace and involves alternating sprinting and jogging. If you don’t have a watch, use lampposts to trigger your speed, or put your headphones in and run faster when the beat kicks in.

We walk every day to get from A to B, yet this simple movement has a range of benefits including releasing feel-good endorphins and improving health and fitness - plus you don’t even need to get changed or showered afterwards. All you need is suitable footwear and off you go.

Walking at a fast pace burns twice as many calories as a simple stroll, so how much you push yourself is down to you.

If you are luckily enough to work close to a gym, and don’t mind dishing out on the fees, fast classes are a popular quick fitness fix for workers.

Classes will vary but tend to focus on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which involves keeping your whole body moving with minimal rest periods which means you burn fat fast, increase your cardiovascular fitness and build strength in next to no time.

But be prepared to sweat; you’ll need to factor in time for a quick shower!

If you work for a big organisation, ask HR what their policies are for a having a trainer or instructor coming to your building to do subsidised classes? Exercise enhances productivity and getting colleagues interacting can help promote team work - so your bosses will benefit too. Plus, being fit and active can reduce your chances of getting unwell, which could mean less days lost to sickness.

The Leeds artist so allergic to the materials he uses, he has been hospitalised twice