If you’re one of the many participants in 10,000 steps a day workplace pedometer challenge, good for you. But there’s something important you need to know.
It’s not exercise, and it’s not enough to achieve good health.
Taking 10,000 steps a day is an excellent baseline physical activity – assisting in the reversal of the sedentary lifestyle health effects we all face – but our bodies need more.
You see there is a vast difference between physical activity and exercise.
While taking the stairs is an excellent opportunity to get mobile at work – and it may even feel like a workout the first few times – it isn’t technically exercise. It’s only physically moving your body from point A to B. Exercise, on the other hand, is a planned activity that lifts your heart rate, involves exertion, and is structured with a repetitive nature.
The 2014 Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend adults participate in a minimum of 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate to intensive aerobic activity a week to achieve good health: riding a bike, taking a yoga class or participating in a team sport that gets your heart pumping without causing too much discomfort. The alternative is 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous physical intensity: weights, running, competitive team sports and Bikram yoga that draws on your stored energy and gets your heart thumping.
A daily 30 minutes of moderate physical activity may seem a reasonable proposition, however, to further reduce the risk of some cancers and unwanted weight gain, it is recommended exercise levels be increased to 300 minutes a week. This is especially important if we are not reaching those baseline numbers of 10,000 steps a day, and it’s where the pedometer challenge can mislead and bring many of us unstuck. There is so much emphasis placed on reaching those all-important 10,000 basic steps each day that we often stop there. In reality, and particularly with regard to weight and health management, this figure should be considered a minimum with additional emphasis placed on lifting your heart rate.
And before you put your hand up to proclaim there’s not a spare moment in your day for exercise, let alone a full hour of it, just hear me out. (I promise you don’t need to spend your lunch break belting yourself in the gym and yes, I heard that, ‘lunch break what’s that? (scoff scoff).’
The good news is that research supports either a collection of 10-minute bursts of activity, culminating in 30-60 minutes or one continuous session of activity – so there’s no need to find another hour in your already busy day. 10 -15 minutes before breakfast, 10 -15 minutes during lunch and 10 -15 minutes while the spuds are simmering, in conjunction with the 10,000 daily steps, will have an enormously positive impact on your health and wellbeing.
So looking back at those stair climbs, if you’re putting in ten minutes of climbing effort, then yes consider that exercise!
Whether you’re at home caring for children, working the graveyard shift, sitting behind a steering wheel all day or at a workstation that inhibits movement, we must all take responsibility for a personal paradigm shift regarding our physical activity and exercise. We do have enough time to exercise, and we must be creative in seizing opportunities to gain the all important heart raising action our health and wellbeing is screaming out for.
How do we do that at Health Happy Staff HQ?
The answer is sun salutations. 10 minutes of wiggling at the sun a few times a day, practised with pace, provides an excellent cardiovascular and strength workout for all stages of fitness.
And don’t be put off if people stare and giggle the first few times. A bit of laughter in the office might inspire your colleagues, family or friends to join in so they too start experiencing the benefits! In our guide How to encourage your staff to engage in their health & wellbeing, you’ll find a URL link to our guided sun salutation to try – here at Healthy Happy HQ we do a few almost daily!
Regular exercise in the workplace will have your staff fitter, stronger and more focused with improved feelings of vitality and self-esteem – regardless of whether their weight or appearance changes – and that has to be good for business.
Health and wellbeing in the workplace needn’t be complicated, costly or time-consuming; it’s a smart investment in your most valuable asset!