Seven simple ways to have an active work day

Blogs 7 Jan 2022

Discover how you can build physical activity into your day and encourage your team to do the same with top tips and practical advice from Sport England and ukactive.

Finding ways to move more during the working day can be a great way to boost your productivity, improve your fitness and support your mental health. From morning walks and moving meetings to friendly team challenges, Sport England and ukactive share seven ways you can get active during your workday.

Finding ways to move more during the working day can be a great way to boost your productivity, improve your fitness and support your mental health. From morning walks and moving meetings to friendly team challenges, Sport England and ukactive share seven ways you can get active during your workday.

1. Start small

If you spend your days hunched over your laptop working on client projects or sat in the office doing admin, taking breaks to stand up and grab some water or a cup of tea can help you to start moving regularly. Remember, you can start with small amounts and build up gradually. Everyone can be active and anything you do towards this goal counts.

Anything that gets you feeling slightly out of breath and your heart rate slightly raised counts, like walking your dog or a home workout. Try to build this into your schedule in a manageable way.  

Many employees report feeling like they don’t have time to move between back-to-back meetings. Putting a default setting in place on your calendar that makes all 30-minute meetings just 25 minutes and all one-hour meetings only 50 minutes is a great way to ensure people get a break to grab some water and get to move.

2 2. Raise your awareness of your movement

·    Everyone is active in different ways and in different amounts. If you want to be more active, starting with understanding what you currently do now and what acts as a barrier can help you figure how to be more active, more easily, in the future. This could be as simple as having a piece of paper on the fridge to make a note of what you’re doing so you can put together an achievable plan.

   3. Get active on your commute (real or fake)

Whether you’re heading into the office, making a trip to your supplier or visiting a client, you can be active for as much or as little of your journey as you want to be. Once you start to think about active travel as a choice you can make for any part of your journey, it quickly becomes a way of life. Business in the Community has a free active travel kit you can download to take your first steps.

If you’re self-employed, working from home or you’re not commuting due to current restrictions, you might find that a short morning walk or ‘fake commute’ can be a positive start to your day. You can even try buddying up with a friend for accountability and check-in to see how it went.

If you have employees, your business could offer the Cycle to Work scheme as part of your employee benefits to help your staff to get active, save money and be more sustainable. You can find out more about how the scheme works, who is eligible and how to find a trusted provider with our guide.

How to support active travel in your workplace:

  • Provide personal storage or small lockers
  • Consider putting a mirror (and maybe a hairdryer) into a meeting room if you don’t have dedicated facilities
  • Provide a hanging rail or wardrobe-style cupboard

4 4. Set a small goal

Got a busy day ahead? You can also use bursts of activity to break up your day with different tasks and activities, such as simple desk stretches or going downstairs to get away from your desk. This can aid focus, boost productivity and contribute to your health and wellbeing. You can gradually add manageable chunks into your day, for example by starting with a five-minute walk and building up to a 20-minute walk.

Whether you need to commute or not, starting and ending your day with activity has many benefits, including boosting productivity and creating healthy boundaries around your work and home life.

5 5. Schedule it and stick to it

It can be easy to let activity slip down your list of priorities when life gets busy. Treat physical activity and movement the same way you would a call with a friend or a work meeting. Put it in your calendar and prioritise your own health and wellbeing as much as you would other things in your day.

A simple way you can do this is to plan for tomorrow today. If our shoes are already by the door or we have our gym kit with us, we’re more likely to follow through with the activity. Planning slightly in advance takes the pressure off if circumstances change.

Creating a regular routine will help to support maintaining healthy mental health and physical habits. Remember that it’s okay to skip a day or stop doing something. You can just pick it back up when it feels right for you.

6 6. Hold a moving meeting

A moving meeting allows you to catch up with team members or clients and discuss business matters while taking a walk or moving around your house. These informal meetings not only have a positive influence on your health, but they can also help to enhance creativity and productivity by allowing people to think outside the box.

Not all meetings will work as a moving meeting. Challenge yourself to look ahead at your calendar each week – can you make one or two meetings a moving meeting? In your invite, consider adding ‘feel free to walk or move during this catch-up’ or ‘I’m going to take a walk while we chat, feel free to do the same.’

You could try a moving meeting in the following scenarios:

  • 1:1 meeting
  • Working through ideas with a small group
  • Talking about approaches, wellbeing or development plans
  • When there is no need to share screens, reference documents or take lengthy notes

For walking meetings, planning a suitable route will improve your chance of success. A route of around 2km is suitable for a 30-minute meeting, but this can vary depending on how fast you like to walk.

7. Make it a team effort

Whatever the size, type or working environment of your business, getting involved with an active challenge can be the perfect way to engage your team and boost their health and wellbeing at the same time. It can also increase morale, generate conversation, drive productivity and improve the health and wellbeing of your workforce. Lead by example, show your enthusiasm from the start and get your staff on board from day one.

You could share your progress with each other in a group chat to reinforce positive experiences and support motivation. This can also help to manage the loneliness some may feel if working from home.

You could try:

  • A daily, weekly or monthly challenge
  • A team challenge or light-hearted competition
  • A new activity
  • A challenge for the whole business

Don’t forget to ask people what they want to do and ensure you’re catering to everyone’s needs and fitness levels.

Where can I find more information?

Sport England’s Active Employee Toolkit is packed with tips, advice and shareable resources so you can support your team to build more movement into their working day. Check out their Join the Movement fitness challenges for ideas and inspiration.