When it comes to supporting employee success, health and wellbeing should take centre-stage. In the UK alone, 79% of working adults experience work-related stress. And while exercise is an efficient way to alleviate stress and boost wellbeing, it’s often ignored. Exercise and training take dedication and discipline. But it pays off, and firms can take the initiative to encourage employees to improve their exercise routine.
We talked with our Management Accountant Hugh Smyth about his fitness journey and the benefits he has seen over the last year to learn more.
Can you tell us a bit about your fitness journey?
I completed a Marathon a few years ago to raise funds for charity. Unfortunately, I sustained a long-term injury around the 16-mile mark and stubbornly ran on until I completed the race. As a result, I couldn’t practice the sport for a year, although I thought I was out for a lifetime.
The lockdown gave me an opportunity for a fresh start. A health trend in March 2020 was to run 5km, nominate a friend, and donate to a local charity. So I attempted a 5km, ran an exceptionally slow for 2km before giving up, and walked home wondering what had happened to my health.
I shared my experience with some friends, and many were in the same position. A personal trainer friend of mine offered me an online course to improve my health and wellbeing, so I decided to give it a go.
Tell us about what you do to keep fit, both physically and mentally?
To begin training, we started exceptionally slowly to avoid injury. We worked with bodyweight exercises such as air squats, press-ups, lunges, sit-ups, and 1km runs. My PT evaluated my fitness level and built a plan to improve and re-test every 4-weeks.
The secret for me in this part of my training was not to compare myself to anyone. Seeing my improvement month-on-month was a real driver and improved my self-confidence.
Since lockdowns have eased, I have been training with my Gaelic football team twice per week and have a match every weekend. I have a personal trainer on an online platform who schedules home-recovery workouts for me on off-days.
I meditate regularly for up to 10 minutes and try to sleep for at least 8-hours per night.
Could you please share more on your training regime and what it includes?
There is a nice variety in my training regime now. It includes 5-10km light jogs, circuits at home, team training with Harlesden Harps, and foam roll/stretching sessions. Some sessions can take 15-minutes at home, which is easy to fit in during a lunch break from work.
Tell us, why you are so passionate about having a healthy body and mind?
I have always had a busy lifestyle and have been interested in furthering my finance and accounting studies. Working hard all week can be tiring. Even though I am seated from nine to five, I didn’t feel like I had the energy to complete effective study after a full day of work before I started exercising. I have found an increase in my energy from my improved diet and regular exercise. This has been a game-changer in preparation for my studies.
You are currently studying while working, and you are training. How do you balance all of this?
Rest is most important for me. When I’ve had an intense day of work, studying, and training, I need about 10-hours of sleep to feel rested. I balance the intense days by taking one full day off each weekend (no study, no work, no training). I go for a walk with my partner, binge-watch movies, and have a beer on off-days.
As part of the training, I believe you had to increase your body weight. Why is that, and how have you managed to do this healthily?
I have been working remotely with a personal trainer throughout lockdown. To start the program, I shared my target of returning to club-level Gaelic football. This sport requires both physical and excellent fitness levels. My PT approached the game from a sports science perspective and noted that my optimal weight for both speed and strength would be 75kg.
At the beginning of the programme I was 62kg and was prescribed a clean diet with a slight increase in the daily calories I had already consumed. After about 8-weeks, I had double the calorie intake but had cut out all sweets and alcohol.
We recognise that it can be hard to make time for exercise and wellbeing on top of an active role. But Hugh demonstrates this is possible with the right mindset and focus. The best part is that companies are capable of encouraging and fostering this sort of growth. If organisations implement health-first initiatives, they will be supporting their employees and boosting productivity and a positive mindset in the workplace.
Want to learn more about how we are reinventing the workplace at Delta Capita? Read about our projects and employee-centric mindset at our Reinventing Hub.