Every year, May is observed as the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month by the President’s Council on Fitness. The council and the fitness month observances encourage everyone to devote their time to exercise regularly for a healthy body, sound mind, and better quality of life. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the #MoveinMay 2021 campaign promotes safe physical activity while practicing social distancing regulations.
Many people are missing their regular outdoor physical activities now. The employees are missing their daily commute to the workplace, the lunch break walks, working out at gyms, and other open-air physical activities. While the lack of physical activity has affected the physical body, social isolation has impacted employee mental wellness. Many employers have started implementing employee wellness programs to help employees overcome their health and wellness concerns, especially physical and mental wellbeing that have been affected during the pandemic.
Many studies have revealed the multiple health benefits of regular exercising. Exercising releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings, relieve stress, boost energy, and keeps one active throughout the day. Employers can incorporate these wellness challenges ideas in their employee wellness programs to ensure adequate activity even while working remotely. Here are 4 simple exercises that everyone should do regularly for better physical and mental wellbeing.
1. Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises pump oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen to all the working muscles. Breathing controls the oxygen amount that can reach the muscles for them to burn fuel and move. The increased oxygen and activity improves cardiovascular conditioning which reduces the risk of heart diseases, lowers resting heart rate, lowers blood pressures, controls blood glucose, boosts lung function, and also aids in weight loss or weight management. Owing to its cardiovascular conditioning, aerobic exercises are also called as cardio exercises.
The common aerobic exercises include walking, cycling, rowing, swimming, jogging, running, dancing, jumping rope, jumping jacks, and kickboxing. Apart from the cardio machines like elliptical and treadmill, even hiking, skiing, and skating are considered aerobic or cardio exercises. Include warm-up and cool-down exercises for each cardio session.
While it is recommended to get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, people with chronic health disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, joint pains, arthritis, pulmonary conditions or other health issues must consult their physician before starting the exercise routine.
2. Strength Training
Strength training or resistance training exercises improve muscle strength by engaging the core muscle groups by exerting resistance against the targeted core muscles. These exercises help build and maintain strength, improve mobility and flexibility, and lower injury risk. However, to prevent injury and for desired outcomes, it is important to use proper resistance and weights to engage the targeted muscle groups.
These exercises stimulate bone growth, improve balance and posture, reduce blood glucose levels, aid in weight control, and reduce pain in the lower back and joints. In the long run, regular strength training can make things easier in daily tasks lifting heavier objects around the house, carrying groceries, gardening, climbing the stairs, or getting up from the floor.
The common strength training or resistance exercises include squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, plank, Bicep Curl to Shoulder Press, dumbbell rows, resistance ball or band exercises, and many others. Yoga also has some strength-training poses. Experts suggest doing strength-training exercises at least 2 to 3 times a week with 6 to 20 reps of 6 to 8 total exercises, to build strength and stamina.
Stretching exercises keep the muscles strong, healthy, and flexible. Flexibility is important to make sure there is enough mobility in the joints. Without flexibility, the muscles shorten and become tight, increasing the risk of sprains, joint pains, muscle damage, falling, and injuries.
Most times the stretching exercises involve the areas critical for mobility, which are usually located in the lower parts of the body – calves, hamstrings, quadriceps in the front of the thigh, and hip flexors in the pelvis. It is also beneficial to stretch the shoulders, neck, and lower back. They improve posture, boost mobility, and minimize injury.
The common stretching exercises include calf stretches, chest and shoulder stretch, Glute Bridge, side lunge stretch, standing quad stretch, standing hip flexor stretch, neck stretches, and more. Yoga also has stretching poses like cobra pose, butterfly pose, child’s pose, downward dog, Cat/Cow Pose, and more. Playing outdoor games like playing tennis is also a good example of stretching activities. Stretching exercises are done after every workout session to release muscle strains. Ideally, static stretches require holding a stretch position for almost 60 seconds, depending on the position and individual capacity.
4. Balance-Focus Exercises
Often neglected in most exercise regimes, balance exercises improve stability and coordination through the entire body. These exercises strengthen the muscles to keep a person upright, and improve the ability to control the body’s position in a stationary or a mobile state. The enhanced stability and flexibility make it easier in daily tasks and improves muscular performance.
Most exercises focus on the legs, core muscles, and lower back, as they contribute majorly to the body’s balance. A few common balancing exercises include – tight-rope walk, Rock the boat, Chair leg raises, Side-stepping, and Flamingo stand. Stability ball exercises, Tai Chi, and Yoga poses like the tree pose, etc., are also good balancing exercises.
The remote working conditions have stressed many employees, employers, and their families, impacting everyone’s health and wellness. Regular physical activity can boost heart health and holistic wellness. Employers can implement well-designed employee wellness programs with the right wellness challenges ideas that can promote regular physical activity and exercise.
Having a good corporate wellness platform will make it easier for the employees to carry on with their physical activity wellness challenges, and for the employers to track progress. Keeping in line the latest wellness technology advancements, it is important that the corporate wellness platform is compatible with wearable fitness devices and tracking apps, as they are effective employee engagement strategies.
With May 2021 National Physical Fitness And Sports Month promoting health and fitness throughout the country, take small steps to encourage your workforce to get healthy and fit through their employee wellness programs for overall business growth.