Exercise is a great way to reduce or wash away the stress of the day, it’s also one way to reduce the risk of a number of physical health concerns. Try to exercise several times a week or daily where possible – it’s recommended that we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. This doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous, anything which raises your heart rate, making you breathe faster and feel warmer counts. This could be a brisk walk, a short run, or some balance and strength-based exercises like yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. You might well be getting your recommended 150 minutes already if you spend your shifts on your feet.

When it comes to exercise though, knowing what we are supposed to be doing is often the easy part. The challenges can come when trying to find the time within an already bursting calendar, accessing the right equipment, or even just finding the motivation to get moving.

Getting out for a walk or a run with some friends is a great way to stay connected, as well as getting some exercise in. You or your colleagues might have previously taken part in the Step Count Challenge, you could even set up an informal one in your team to help encourage everyone to keep moving. Weather permitting, you could arrange to go for a run after work with some colleagues, having others alongside you can make the process a bit more enjoyable while providing you with some extra motivation to keep going. If you’ve not been active for a while, or are a little unsure of where to start, Couch to 5K could help you overcome these challenges. Follow this link for more details and to download their podcasts to accompany your runs. You can also look into joining your local Parkrun – these are free, weekly events aimed at all ability levels.

Although the recommendation is to get 150 minutes of exercise per week, even just a few minutes a day can be a really good starting point. If you’re pushed for time, you could try following one of these home workout videos a couple of times a week. Alternatively, you could try this 10-minute workout from the British Heart Foundation, which gives you tips on how to be active everyday as well. These workouts can all be done in the comfort of your living room without any specialist equipment.

For something at a slightly gentler pace, you can try our Iyengar Yoga session, or a guided movement session from Scottish Ballet. Why not try one of these in your lunch hour? Or for some shorter sessions, try working your way through Scottish Ballet’s Health at Hand: Movement and Breath Sessions for NHS and Social Care Staff. Each 10-minute session is designed to address physical and mental health and is accompanied by specially created music. If you are based at your desk for the majority of the day, you might like to try some of these desk-based stretches, from the chartered Society of Physiotherapy, periodically throughout the day. These can help alleviate some of the aches and pains you might experience from sitting for long periods of time.

For some additional information on exercise, head over to NHS Inform.

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