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How to get active at your workplace

Ashleigh Went

At HerCanberra, we always have the intention to be active at work.

For starters, we have a treadmill desk. We often will get together to attend a Zumba or barre class. We’re lucky enough to have an office right in the middle of leafy Barton and have been known to stroll around Telopea Park or down to the lake at lunchtime.

That being said, we’re very much a deadline-driven, busy workplace. Like many office workers, all of us fall into the habit of spending the day desk-bound, barely even pausing for lunch.

That’s the problem with intentions, isn’t it? When push comes to shove, they’re just not enough to make us actually take action.

So, when I heard that the Physical Activity Foundation and Healthier Work Canberra were kicking off the Whole of Canberra Workplace Challenge, I knew that we had to get on board.

The aim of the two-week challenge is to be active for at least 30 minutes each day. There’s a table of 10-minute activities to choose from, to be completed three times a day.

One of the reasons I was so keen for the HerCanberra team to participate in the challenge is because I’ve seen first-hand just how well it works. A few years ago, when I was working in the public service, I signed up myself and my former colleagues for the Challenge and encouraged everyone to get on board.

I was the weirdo sitting at my desk shoulder-pressing my drink bottle, or doing squats as I waited for the jug to boil. Yes, some people stared. Some rolled their eyes. Most people, however, were happy to participate and the after-effect was noticeable. People became aware of how much (or rather, how little) they were moving during the day, and were equipped with exercises they could do to keep their activity levels up.

The thing I really loved about the challenge is just how easy it is to complete. Even in the most jam-packed workday, it’s relatively easy to squeeze in three sets of 10 minutes. You don’t even have to be terribly creative, because the Challenge has done all the work for you. Simply pick your activity, and get moving. They range from social and outdoor activities (a quick game of soccer with your colleagues) to the desk bound, solo variety (leg extensions on your office chair).

Tracking your progress is a cinch—we printed off challenge worksheets to stick on each person’s desk so we could simply tick off our activities. You simply report to your workplace Champion, who will log your points online.

It wasn’t just me who loved the Challenge—our Director Amanda was a fan too.

“What I enjoyed about the Challenge was that it gave me motivation to get up and moving, and reminded me that I needed to. The 10-minute activities were simple and easy to complete—I didn’t have to struggle to find time to fit an exercise class into my schedule —and they really worked (hello, static lunges).”

Sometimes, the biggest hurdle to creating long term change is getting everyone on board. The HerCanberra office got involved in the challenge, and each person took something away from the experience.

Our Editor, Beatrice, said “for me, the challenge was a great opportunity to get creative with how and why I leave my desk during the day. Parking further away was probably my favourite, but we had some fun doing squats in the office and using our office treadmill more. Being mindful of exactly how many minutes I’ve spent being active during the work day was both eye-opening and thought-provoking.”

Despite often working from different locations, the Challenge worked really well for our small team. That being said, it’s great for larger workplaces as well. Designed to be completed in teams of five people, it’s a great way to create some healthy workplace competition and see who can rack up the most points over the two weeks.

Not only did we enjoy completing the challenge over two weeks, but we’re now reaping the benefits after its completion. Getting up to go for a quick walk, doing some stretches or hopping on the treadmill has become standard practice for us. It was the perfect push we needed to turn our good intentions into positive action.

the essentials
What: Healthier Work Whole of Canberra Workplace Challenge, brought to you by the Physical Activity Foundation
Where: Your workplace
When: From Monday 9 April to Friday 20 April 2018
Register: paf.org.au

This is a sponsored post but all opinions are the author’s own. Read our sponsored post policy.

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Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author

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