Is your Environment Making You Fat?

Is your Environment Making You Fat?

Is your environment making you fat? Is it? The environment in which you live and work has a profound influence on your health and physical fitness. I do not think that anyone deliberately gains weight, but an independent survey found 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese in 2015 and the numbers are rising. It is time to take a look at our environment.

What about your daily commute?
The average person steps out of the door in the morning, to sit in the car or on the seat of a train before taking the lift up to their office where they will sit behind their desk for eight or more hours. The same sedentary trip home concludes around ten hours of sitting.

Where are the stairs?
Stairs are often hard to find whereas the lift and escalators are often front and centre of any building. This is so obvious, but unappreciated. If the lifts were hidden around a corner or to the rear of a building and the stairs were right in front of you then you would take the stairs almost every time.

Photo Credit: Liam Grimley

Work culture
Many people will sit at their desk for the majority of the day. With email and direct messaging there is almost no reason to leave your desk. Office meetings can take many hours and sometimes span days with everyone stuck to a chair with meals delivered right to the boardroom.
The pressure to look like a hard worker may have you eating your lunch at your desk and working very long hours. This accepted culture adds up to a dramatic lack of movement.

Social environment
We are all influenced by how active our peers are and how acceptable physical activity is amongst our colleagues. It is well understood that people are more active when they live and work in an environment where exercise is considered normal. If your peer group sees exercise as abnormal you are far less likely to be active yourself.

social facilitation in exercise and health

Photo Credit: Liam Grimley

Top Tips To Beat Your Environment

Be more active on your commute
Simply standing rather than sitting during your bus or train journey turns a lazy commute into physical activity.
Walk to the station instead of getting a lift.
Get off a stop or two early at the other end and walk to your destination.
Walk, cycle or run part or all of your journey.

Take the Stairs
Easily add a couple of thousand steps to your daily step count by ignoring the lifts/elevators.
Walk on the escalators and travelators.
If you are designing a new office building, do yourself and your employees a favour and place the stairs front and centre and put the lifts around the corner.

 Promote an active work culture
Walk over to a colleague to have that work conversation.
Respect the importance of a lunch break. Clear your head with a change of scenery with fresh air and a stroll.
Create a culture where lunch beaks are normal.
Many of the most productive workplaces have lunchtime running clubs.
Talk to your colleagues about getting together and walking or running as a group.
Get a group together and sign up for an obstacle race or a rounders or tag rugby league.

Doing just one of these things will make your environment healthier and get you on the way to being fitter. When you have mastered one, get to work on another. This is how make your environment work for you to be fitter and healthier.

stair running

Photo Credit: Liam Grimley

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