Skip main navigation

E – The importance of exercise

The importance of exercise for stress management and performance
Let’s now discuss the E in self-care for exercise. And while I’m talking perhaps think back to the previous four or five days and how much physical activity or exercise you’d been able to do. For a long time people have been associating the health benefits of physical activity and exercise with heart health. But more recently, we’ve been able to uncover the benefits on the brain as well. Simply speaking, anything that’s good for your heart is good for your brain. But we don’t have to be concerned with improving fitness for fitness sake, but being physically active. Being physically active has been shown to have some remarkable benefit, so what can we do?
Well, first thing in the morning, having a degree of aerobic physical activity, some brisk walking, can help set us up for the stresses and strains ahead. If we are doing some intense physical activity, then ideally we’d want to do this earlier in the day. The current guidelines are about a 150 minutes of aerobic activity for adults between 19 and 64 years of age a week. And this can be done in one bout of exercise or broken up into smaller bouts over a week. What’s perhaps more interesting and relevant to some people is the evidence that maybe for 77% of the time we’re in work, we’re actually sitting and sedentary. Now this sort of behaviour is abnormal from an evolutionary perspective.
So the benefits every 20 to 30 minutes or so of transitioning from sitting to standing and just moving, walking around for, two minutes or so have real significant benefits for our health and well-being. So we need to try and improve the amount of exercise that we do in a day. We also need to improve the amount of times we transition from sitting to standing. We could try and make exercise and physical activity a little bit more fun to see if we can improve our ability to participate in exercise by maybe 15 minutes a day or more.
Don’t forget, we always need to get appropriate medical guidance if we are starting an exercise programme, but it’s relatively easy to take the stairs on occasion rather than a lift, or perhaps get off a bus or metro a stop earlier than we would do normally. And the benefits of combining physical activity with being outdoors and physically moving rather than being on a treadmill, have also been shown to be of significant benefit in managing stress and improving our well-being.

In this video Andy McCann outlines why exercise matters. Is fitting exercise and physical activity around your work and family demands difficult?

This article is from the free online

Workplace Wellbeing: Stress and Productivity at Work

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education