Karl Henry: 'We're not too busy to build exercise into our daily routines'
Let's face it, life has never been busier! Longer work days, longer commutes and busy social lives mean that getting healthy and trying to fit exercise into your day has become harder and harder. According to a recent study in the UK, three quarters of people are considered to be "inactive", failing to meet the government guidelines for physical activity of 150 minutes of exercise a week. The situation in Ireland probably isn't too far off that either.
It's something we see with every company we work with when we do corporate wellness courses and with our personal training clients too.
In today's column I thought I would bring you my five simple tips for getting healthy - no matter what your schedule is like. These are tips that I have learnt myself - I leave my house at 5am in the morning and get home around 8 or 9pm. Throughout my day I have personal training clients, meetings, writing and lectures to do as well as my own training. I have had to adapt my own health routine to fit around this mayhem. Here is what I have learnt:
1. Plan and stock up
This is really crucial. I always recommend getting a big food shop done once a week, stocking anywhere you will spend time with the food and beverages that you want to eat and drink. Your fridge, your car, your workplace and even your bag if you commute a long way. Once you are stocked up, you will feel a sense of calm, readiness and increase your overall chance of success. It will reduce the amount of money you spend on random purchases too.
2. Schedule workouts - and stick to them
For years I moved my sessions all the time to fit everything else in, more often than not missing those sessions. Now I spend time looking at my diary over the weekend and pencilling in my own training. I make sure to keep that time for myself and prioritise it, to ensure I get my training done at the times I have set aside for it. It means you respect your own time and fitness and that impacts positively on everything around you.
3. Incorporate walking into the workplace
We spend an incredible amount of time in the places that we work, yet they, more often than not, are set up for weight gain and fitness losses than anywhere else. Look at where you are working today and consider, what can you do to make your body work harder when you're there? Instead of taking the lift, can you use the stairs to go to your floor? Can you suggest a walking meeting to colleagues instead of a cramped boardroom? It may sound a bit strange to suggest shifting the location, but research has shown that walking can improve creative thinking. At your desk, could you swap your chair for a swiss ball, or get a standing desk? Look at every aspect of your work environment and see what you can do to make it a healthy zone.
4. Shorten your workouts, and use lunch to escape the office
One of the many reasons people don't exercise is because of the amount of time it takes for the session. So why not make the sessions shorter, harder and with less break time? You will realise what you can do in just 30 minutes in the gym, and you can even fit it in on your lunch break. Those 30-minute sessions add up and make a big difference to your overall health! One in four adults don't walk half an hour a week, so making the most of your lunch breaks to get out of the office canteen and go for a 30-minute walk can help.
5. Get together
You can achieve so much when you surround yourself with a group of people to work towards a goal. Get your colleagues together, find something to work towards and then start by building a training plan to hit those goals.
The teamwork and momentum of the group will make a huge difference to your workplace and yourself.