Imagine your people having access to a pharmacy filled with all the pills and potions they need to feel energized, focused and fulfilled in their workday. Picture them strolling through the aisles, selecting elixirs that enhance their brainpower, boost their memory and ignite their creativity. Better still, it’s all free. You’d want them there without hesitation, right?
Guess what? They don’t need a magical pharmacy to access these transformative benefits. In fact, they already possess an incredible power within them. Think of it as their wellbeing laboratory, just waiting to be tapped into. What is the secret to unlocking this new level of productivity, focus and fulfillment? Embracing something simple yet incredibly powerful: an active workday.
I can already imagine what you are saying: “There is no way I have the time to exercise during my workday. Have you seen my inbox?” But before you dismiss this idea, let me assure you that this isn’t about overhauling your entire routine or sacrificing precious work hours.
Research shows that even if you hit the gym before work or exercise after hours, it’s not enough to counteract the adverse effects of prolonged sitting.
You might even say, “I already exercise outside of work.” That’s fantastic. However, research shows that even if you hit the gym before work or exercise after hours, it’s not enough to counteract the adverse effects of prolonged sitting if you spend the rest of your day sedentary. Incorporating physical activity into your workday is crucial for your overall wellbeing.
It can also cause a profound shift in how you approach and engage with your work. One study discovered that employees who engage in workplace exercise programs experienced a remarkable 72 percent enhancement in their time management and workload completion. The ripple effect from these programs is greater focus, creativity and overall performance. What’s not to like?
But how do we make movement a priority in our jam-packed workdays? Surely the best thing we can do is power to the finish line?
To shed light on the importance of taking movement breaks, or ‘micro moves’ as I like to call them, let’s delve into a parallel universe – the exhilarating world of Formula One racing, which I was unexpectedly drawn into through the captivating Netflix series Drive to Survive.
Beyond the heart-pounding races and fierce competition, what intrigued me most were the parallels between the high-stakes world of Formula One and our daily hustle. We’re all navigating our own racetracks, chasing victories and tackling challenges with unwavering determination.
Yet in this comparison, a crucial aspect often overlooked in our workdays stands out: pit stops. Unlike us, drivers in the high-stakes world of racing don’t skip these moments. Far from being inconveniences, pit stops are strategic moves that spell the difference between success and falling behind.
They involve crucial actions like fine-tuning the car and changing tires – essential steps to maintain peak performance. These actions are deemed necessary, even when the driver might feel the urge to power through without a break.
Embracing moments of movement is like a Formula One driver recognizing the perfect time for a pit stop.
Now, let’s shift gears to our everyday hustle. Quick moments of movement – envision a chair stretch, taking an energizing breather or a brisk walk – are our equivalent of pit stops. They’re not just breaks; they’re a fine-tuning process for our bodies, brains, focus, stress levels and energy.
Embracing moments of movement is like a Formula One driver recognizing the perfect time for a pit stop. It’s about understanding that a brief pause for rejuvenation actually fuels your ability to sustain speed and focus throughout the race.
These moments of renewal aren’t distractions; they’re keys to maintaining peak performance, sidestepping burnout and crossing the day’s finish line with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes, a few seconds is all it takes to get your ‘vehicle’ back on track.
So how do you get your people to embrace this idea?
Almost every time I lead a workshop and ask what everyone needs to embrace an active workday, someone raises their hand and says, “We need our leaders not just to say it’s OK, but actually do it themselves”.
People want a green light to take those much-needed active breaks and prioritize movement. Guess who they’re looking to for this assurance? It’s the people who conduct their performance reviews and shape their work environment.
This sentiment echoes through workplaces globally. Employees seek assurance that it’s acceptable and actively encouraged to infuse movement into their workday. They’re looking for a signal that it’s all right to stretch their legs, take a breather and do something for their wellbeing. That cue often comes from the actions of those they look up to – their leaders, managers and CEOs.
People want a green light to take those much-needed active breaks and prioritize movement.
In a recent virtual workshop with a global software company, the CEO herself became a beacon of change. Leading by example, she joined the session with her camera on, showcasing how to infuse movement into the workday.
Her genuine participation set an example and created a comfortable space for everyone to follow suit. With her leading from the front, the team felt accountable and encouraged to turn on their cameras, embrace the movements and even share a few laughs about the CEO’s dance moves.
This moment wasn’t just about physical activity but connection, trust and camaraderie. When leaders step up and demonstrate the value of movement, it sends a powerful message: “We’re all in this together, and your wellbeing matters”.
Leaders can spark a movement within their teams by leading by example. Actions speak louder than words, and when colleagues see a dedicated commitment to an active workday, they are inspired and empowered to make positive changes.
Walking meetings: Think outside the box
When you step out into the open air, stroll through the office or even pace around your space while discussing business matters on the phone, you’re not just moving your body, you’re also freeing your mind. Research has shown that physical activity, even in the form of a leisurely walk, can stimulate creative thinking and boost problem-solving abilities. So why not try walking meetings and see if they help your team think differently, encourage outside-the-box solutions and engage in more productive conversations?
Movement meetings: The secret sauce for an active workplace
A movement meeting is a unique approach designed to enhance connections between participants while infusing fun, smiles and laughter. These meetings provide accountability, reminders and a commitment to prioritizing physical and mental wellbeing. They serve as a refreshing break from traditional meeting structures, encouraging participants to contribute more actively to their health and engagement.
You could start your meetings with a chair stretch, a short walk on the spot or turn on a song to see the best old-school dance moves to get everyone moving and engaged. Alternatively, you might host stand-up meetings where people stand rather than sit around the conference table or virtually.
Movement Mondays: A strategic start to the week
Imagine kick-starting your work week on a vibrant note, infusing energy and enthusiasm into your team. Movement Mondays are more than just a catchy phrase; they are a strategic approach to reinvigorating your workplace. The beginning of the week sets the tone for productivity, and what better way to do that than by incorporating movement into the work routine?
It could be a brief team stretch, a quick energizing exercise or even a short dance break. The goal is to transition from the weekend mindset to the work week with a burst of movement. This intentional start creates a positive ripple effect, boosting morale, fostering team connections and setting the stage for a dynamic and productive week ahead.
Movement, in all its forms, can elevate your wellbeing, sharpen your cognitive abilities and bring fulfillment to your professional life. You don’t need a grand gesture or a complex strategy; sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective.
As you navigate the corporate racetrack of challenges and opportunities, remember the lessons from the world of Formula One. Just as pit stops are strategic moves for success in racing, moments of movement are your strategic pit stops for peak performance at work.
It’s not about taking time away from your tasks; it’s about enhancing everybody’s ability to tackle them with renewed energy, focus and happiness.
Contributor Collective Member
Dubbed by the American media as ‘the excuse-buster from Down Under’, Lizzie Williamson is the Founder and Author of ‘Two Minute Moves’ and a TEDx speaker, keynote speaker, fitness presenter and certified personal trainer. She is a regular on morning television and in global news publications, and her work has been featured on ‘Good Morning America’, ‘Studio 10’, ‘The Today Show’, ‘Prevention Magazine’ and ‘Women’s Health’. Her new book ‘The Active Workday Advantage: Unlock Your Most Energized, Engaged and Happy Self at Work’ is out on 30 January, 2024. Learn more at https://www.lizziewilliamson.com/