Posted: Tue 24th Mar 2020
These changing times demand small business owners to be flexible and creative like never before. To meet the challenges posed by the change in working patterns, workers must stay physically and mentally fit and keep their immune system – the body's defences – at their best.
Physical wellbeing is more than just lifting weights. It encompasses how we sit and move every day, our cardiovascular fitness, joint and muscle strength and how we recover from injury. It also includes longer-term health issues such as pain, arthritis and secondary effects of more general health problems like managing weight. The good news is that exercise benefits are almost immediate and long-lasting.
Four top tips for good physical health for small business owners
1. Know your health
If you have a health condition, make sure you have your prescribed medicines available. If you know you're susceptible to a particular ailment – for example, back pain, anxiety or low mood – listen to your body and mind and take simple steps to address these issues.
Pilates, yoga or strengthening work may help a sore back, while connecting with other people remotely by phone or via online tools like Teams or Zoom may lift the mood as you work from home.
2. Sit well
Adopt a good sitting posture while home working. Take regular breaks to stretch your legs and do desk-based exercises and stretches if you can't get up. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has some great postural tips and desk-based stretches for home-workers.
Don't sit on the couch – have your screen directly in front of you to avoid back and neck pain.
3. Move well and do exercise
Cognitive function, mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. Your cardiovascular health (how well our heart, lungs and blood vessels work) is directly affected by how much exercise we do and the intensity we do it at.
It's recommended that you do 30 minutes a day, five days a week (it doesn't have to be high-intensity!) but you can break this up into 10-minute chunks.
Going for a regular walk or taking other exercise both improves your heart and lung health and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers. It can give you an energy boost if you're flagging, and improves sleep quality when needing rest.
Exercise has also been shown to improve concentration, mental stamina and sharpen our memory. All of these factors combine to help you make clear and rational decisions, deal effectively with clients and cope with business-related pressure in a fast-changing environment.
From doing an online class or picking up weights at home to kicking and throwing a ball in the garden with your children do what you enjoy, that way you are more likely to stick with it.
Some people find sticking to a routine, especially in times of change, can help ensure they stick with exercise. As we are all adjusting to new routines now, it's a good time to put exercise into it!
A list of exercise resources for you to try
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy:
NHS fitness studio:
4. Manage your mind, get outside
In challenging times, your body copes better if you're mentally sound. The mental health charity MIND recommends getting outside and being aware of the people and environment around you.
Getting natural light by standing out on the patio or in the garden can clear the head and get you moving beyond the desk. It will give you some much-needed vitamin D, which is essential for bone, joint and muscle health and supporting your immune system.
The NHS and British Dietetic Association also recommend eating well to keep strong, mentally sharp and manage weight.
As a small business owner, agility is key and never more than now! If you have staff, encourage them to be active too and embed it into your culture. Think of your physical fitness as a vital part of your work and your business, along with your wellbeing, will benefit.