Earlier this year, research by Opus Energy asked SME business owners and decision makers how they maintained focus and energy throughout the day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost a quarter of respondents said they relied on caffeine as a pick me up, whereas less than 1 per cent said they went to the gym on their lunch hour.
Separate research from CABA also found that people who are more active during the working day experience a 22 per cent increase in fitness and a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions compared to sedentary colleagues.
However, whilst it’s clear that exercise plays a huge role in productivity at work and counteract office fatigue and laziness, SMEs can struggle to fit exercise into the working week.
“Sitting at a desk, reading computer screens and office air conditioning can take their toll,” said Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare. “A 15 minute walk outside will invigorate you with oxygen and daylight…even on a grey day.”
Early morning exercise before work, or during lunchtime can also be beneficial, whilst others will opt for evening workouts to draw a line under the working day and ease out any tension that may have accumulated.
“What really matters is that every individual finds the appropriate time for them to exercise – there’s little point becoming fixated on a lunchtime workout for example if all this does is add stress for your day,” said Jeff Archer from The Tonic Corporate Wellness.
“Too often, busy executives start the day full of energy only to feel their focus and effectiveness wane with each passing hour. Just as it’s crucial to stay hydrated throughout the day and top up energy levels with the right meal and snacks, it’s also vital to keep activity levels up. At the most basic level, it’s a great idea to get up and move around every 90 minutes or so when our natural energy rhythms take a dip. This is the ideal way to keep the body healthy and prevent any aches and pains from sitting too long. It’s also a great way to clear the head just as the mind begins to wander and boost focus for the next 90-minutes of concerted effectiveness.”
Callum Melly from Body in 8 explained other benefits of exercise for employees: “When we exercise we release mood enhancing endorphins that give us that ‘feel good’ factor, and can help us to focus and perform for the rest of the day. Exercise is also a great way to de-stress and can promote deep sleep which is essential if you want to perform your best at work.”
Fitness can also be used as an employee engagement tool and is something also advocated by London Business School on their executive education programmes.
Archer explained: “Senior executives and general managers from around the world are given the opportunity to try a selection of workouts, yoga and Pilates classes at various times of the day to see what works best for them. When they return to their organisation, this impacts positively on their day-to-day performance with participants reporting vastly improved energy levels, greater ability to concentrate, reduced stress levels and a renewed capacity to act as a role model and lead their team.”
To help your employees become more active during the day, take a look at these three top tips:
- Balance cardio work such as running, cycling and swimming with strength training, core conditioning and stretching
- Workouts can be done on your lunch break without needing to go to a gym – not only will it break up your day, but it can also set you up for a successful afternoon
- If you work in an office, you can always do a full body circuit workout without any equipment. Body weight squats, press ups, sit ups, mountain climbers, the plank position, alternating lunges hip/glute bridges, and Russian twists can all be done without any equipment
For more tips, guidance and information on helping your employees stay proactive, visit www.brighterbusiness.co.uk.