The word exercise comes from the Latin ‘exercere’, meaning to keep busy or at work. So it is ironic that most of us sit on a chair for nine hours, only moving to grab a mayo-heavy sandwich and barely prising our eyes away from the computer screen.
Lunch breaks in front of the computer are a growing trend if taken at all. People don’t feel they have time to eat, but the fact is the more intense and demanding your job the more necessary it is to take a lunch break.
When Postcode Anywhere, an IT company in Worcestershire, decided to relocate its office from the outskirts of the town into the city centre, a healthy lifestyle was at the forefront of the new set-up. To coincide with the move, the software firm signed up to a company membership at local gym, PF2 and encouraged employees to make the most of it and get some exercise at lunch.
Lunch on the run
After just a month at their new waterside office, the company reports that over a third of employees have signed up to the subsidised membership.
“It’s all about putting the focus on employees,” managing director Guy Mucklow said. “Healthy, happy workers are proven to be far more productive.
“It’s all too easy to stay slumped in your chair during the lunch break but those who do exercise come back to their desk feeling rejuvenated and ready to crack on with their work.”
PF2 Health Club has laid-on tailored gym classes aimed specifically at those exercising during lunch breaks. The classes range from body bump to spinning and last half an hour giving employees just enough time for a quick shower before heading back to the office.
Richard Noble, managing director of PF2 said: “Hectic lifestyles mean the only real option is to incorporate exercise into the day, which is probably why lunch is such a popular time for people to work out here. People who schedule a time for workouts, whether it’s early morning or at lunch, are more likely to stick with their program because it becomes part of their daily routine. Having a routine is vital in order to maintain motivation and to allow your body to adapt and develop.
“A lot of people take an exercise break to calm down after a meeting and lower their stress level. Other people like to come after work to help unwind.”
Hitting the ground running
And the bosses aren’t complaining either. Research published in the US Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology shows people who are physically active tend to be more enthusiastic about their jobs than those whose biggest daily exertion is taking the lift down to the office canteen.
Mucklow says he’s encouraged to see how many people are keen to get involved and believes that the results on the business speak for themselves. After attending a group exercise class, Postcode Anywhere employees reported that they felt recharged, and rejuvenated and improved concentration levels. Exercising can also help to rest the eyes and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries, which affects more than one million of us every year.
Mucklow added: “Employee absence is a major cost for any organisation. Encouraging fitness is a great way to migrate this by ensuring employees is fit and healthy. I’ve looked at some statistics and the average absenteeism rate is eight days per employee, per year – ours is just one and a half.”
So is it really possible to stay fit when your workday starts early, ends late, and you’re squeezing family time and other priorities in around the edges? PF2 believe it is.
“Getting and staying fit requires a lot less time than most people think. Schedule exercise into your day and remind yourself that the break you take will pay you back in terms of increased productivity — even if that break lasts only 20 minutes.” Noble concluded.