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No If's, Butts or Maybe's

Optimize Blog - July 18, 2012 - 0 comments

Many of us are confronted on a day to day basis with being tied to a desk, sat in front of our computers wading through vast amounts of data trying to execute in our roles. During this daily routine it is often hard to remember the requirement to get up and walk around. The most walking many people get is to walk from one meeting to the next.
At Zeitgeist we often write about health at work and so were interested to see the latest research in The Lancet which estimates that around a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3m deaths a year which is equivalent to the number of deaths caused by smoking. The research states that the facts suggest that this should now be considered a pandemic.
We wrote in a recent blog about the brain’s tendency to look on the positive side of risk and this research is suggesting that we require a new way of thinking about the problem, namely that we should be concerned with the danger of inactivity rather than the benefits of physical exercise.
As we are just a few days away from the 2012 Olympic games it is no surprise perhaps that the timing of the release of this report comes just as we are about to be exposed to elite sport at its finest.
While conceptually we all get the fact that we need to be more active, we find ourselves sat in meetings, in front of our computer or in front of the TV at the end of the day as we try to unwind from our work day. Importantly we need to understand that even going to the gym at the beginning or end of the day doesn’t actually compensate for the time spent sitting inactive.
It is imperative then that we make sure we get up regularly from our desks and move around. As leaders we are accountable for ensuring that our people get up and walk around at regular intervals – our teams health should be our concern.
Here at Zeitgeist we have found that the simple purchase of a pedometer can change the way we behave.  By tracking our steps during the day and setting targets to increase the number of steps taken day over day, we’ve made it a fun way to change behaviour with an element of competitiveness thrown in just to add some interest.
If you find yourself and your team spend too much time sitting and inactive at work, find ways to get people up and off their butts. If you don’t like the pedometer idea then try having one on one meetings while walking around the block. Have short team meetings where you encourage people to stand for the duration or perhaps even encourage people to use the stairs rather than to take the elevators between floors.
As leaders we cannot turn a blind eye to the potential damage caused by the way we ask our teams to operate and so we need to ensure that coaching our teams on good health practices becomes firmly part of our stated leadership accountability.

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