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Running at work: the benefits and best approaches to getting moving

The workplace can bring enough stress without the sedentary aspects of the office affecting your health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s important to find room for plenty of movement as you go about your daily business. Vhi Health & Wellbeing Clinical Lead and passionate running advocate Dr Ui May Tan is on hand to offer guidance on getting started, how you will benefit and why businesses should get involved.

So what are the undeniable physical benefits that running can offer?

Running will help you strengthen muscles, maintain a healthy weight and improve your immune system. It also reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, lower back pain, cancer, diabetes and more. Running has been found to relieve tension headaches. Overall, it’s good for getting your head in the game, boosting creativity, increasing productivity and improving decision-making.

Staying with that clear-headed feeling, how does running improve our state of mind?

As with any physical exercise, running releases endorphins, which naturally work to make a person happier, more energetic and more refreshed. Studies have shown that running even reduces the symptoms of depression. In addition, it can improve one’s capacity to learn and retain new information, through boosted levels of brain protein and the catecholamine neurotransmitter.

So we know it’s good but… doing the right thing is hard! What’s the best way to get started?

By setting yourself a target: what do you want to achieve? Remember, we have to walk before we run! Your ultimate goal is running longer, feeling stronger and staying injury-free. This can be achieved by adding short runs to regular walks and gradually increasing the time you spend running. Be realistic in your aims and try to have fun with your exercise. If you don’t, it will never stick. 

Maintaining a balanced diet and getting plenty of water – at least 1.5 litres a day – is also vital to giving you the fuel you need. 

If it’s your first time, a fitness coach or regularly-running friend can offer advice or come along for the ride. Your local parkrun is a great place to start your journey. 

What about the obstacles life – and the weather! – throws in our way?

Preparation is key. Dress properly, wear multiple layers and don’t forget your hat. Bright reflective strips and wind and water resistant jackets can all be essentials depending on the conditions. 

And family life?

This is where finding that 30 minutes during working hours can help. If you’re constantly with a baby, why not get running or even walking with the buggy? Make use of weekends, by waking up early to run while someone else looks after the kids.

How can employers make it easier for people to get fit?

Offering gym membership rebates, flexible hours and providing showers are practical things that can help. Buy-in from the top management is extremely important to get the company involved in wellness programmes, workplace step challenges, lunchtime walks and more.

Want to read more about fitness, running and healthy lifestyles? Find more here.