Work bad habits: Avoiding exercise at work

It is easy to let small, negative behaviours at work become routine, and undermine us. But simple changes can help us perform better and enjoy our jobs. Sharon Brennan breaks down five common bad habits every day this week, and explains what to do about them. Today, we're looking at the reluctance to exercise


Work bad habits: Avoiding exercise at work

Avoiding exercise at work

Joan Kingsley, an organisational psychotherapist and co-author of The Fear-free Organization (Kogan Page, £29.99) believes that to break bad habits you must first ‘be honest’ about them. If you want to fit exercise into your daily work routine you need to discover what is blocking you from being more active.

For her, even though she has read up on the physiological benefits of exercise, she knows she lacks the motivation to take regular long walks. To help her form the habit she has engaged the services of a personal trainer to accompany her around Hyde Park in London. ‘I have a trainer because I just wouldn’t do it, I know that about myself,’ she says.

As a first step towards exercise Kingsley encourages you to instigate lunchtime walking groups at work, as it uses team support and our reinforcing love of human interaction as a motivation. Plus once we see an uptick in our work performance as a result of exercise – what she calls ‘eureka moments’ – we will stop feeling guilty if we take a break from our desk.

Work by the University of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab suggests the most successful way to form new routines is to build micro-habits into existing habits and schedules. Taking the stairs at work instead of the lift, or deciding to take a ten-minute run three times a week after rather than signing up for a marathon are much better ways of breaking our physical inertia.

Over time these small habits will become part of our normal routine and we will start to perceive ourselves as someone who likes to exercise.

Photograph: iStock

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