It is no secret that living a healthy and active lifestyle is full of benefits. It reduces the chances of developing major illnesses like heart disease or diabetes, it boosts self-esteem, improves sleep quality and energy levels, it helps lower the risk of depression and it also has anti-anxiety effects.

Our everyday job as Veterinary Nurses keeps us pretty active – we run around the practice all day, spend time walking patients outside, rush back and forth from the wards to the prep room, and we are pretty quick at cleaning and turning around the theatre in minutes! Without even realising, all of this counts towards the healthy goal of 10,000 steps a day – an easy 5 miles!

So, what other ways can you fit in more endorphin-releasing exercise into an already busy day?

  • If you get public transport to work, get off one stop earlier
  • Split your lunch break into two parts by eating during the first half of your break and walking around the neighbourhood in the second half
  • Set a “move” alarm or reminder on your phone for specific times during the day – you could even add in some squats while monitoring in anaesthesia!
  • Organise an after work walk or yoga in the park with your co-workers, like “Lets Walk Wednesday”
  • Everyone takes a 5-minute team break for “Lunch time Lunges”

If you usually spend your breaks at work reading a book or catching up on a TV series to take your mind off work, you could always listen to a Podcast or an Audiobook instead while you go for a walk to get some fresh air.

How much exercise should I be doing?

The NHS recommends that adults do 150 minutes a week of a “moderate intensity workout” like brisk walking or riding a bike – that is only 20 minutes a day! Or 75 minutes of “vigorous intensity activity” a week like jogging or running, swimming, riding a bike fast or up hills, walking up the stairs, or using a skipping rope – this is only 10 minutes a day, or 25 minutes three times a week.

A fun and structured way to start running is the Couch to 5K challenge, and as a 5km run takes around 30-40 minutes, you’re halfway to completing a week’s worth of exercise!

It is also recommended that at least 2 days a week some strengthening activities which work all the major muscle groups like the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms are done. It is likely you do this already as it includes carrying heavy shopping bags, yoga, pilates, lifting and carrying children or animals, using resistance bands, or doing exercises that use your own body weight like push-ups and sit ups.

From the couch, to 5kms!

The NHS’s Couch to 5K is designed for absolute running beginners and takes 9 weeks to complete. The running plan involves a mix of running and walking for 3 running days a week with a day’s break in between, and you do something different every week. It is set with completely achievable time targets to build up your confidence, fitness and stamina.

The Couch to 5K is downloadable as a Podcast to your mobile which instructs you when to run and when to walk after planning your 5km route.

Fitness Videos and Centres

Even with fitness centres opening in the next few weeks as lockdown restrictions ease, you may still prefer to exercise at home – and it saves time getting to and from the gym!

Have you seen these free exercise Youtube Channels:

  • HASfit – Free and fast-paced HIIT workouts
  • Blogilates – Pilates with no equipment and videos for beginners
  • Jessica Smith TV – Full cardio and bodyweight exercises, feat. a cute French Bulldog
  • Fitness Blender – Workouts between 10-60 minutes long
  • Yoga With Adriene – One of the original Youtube yogis, there is something for everyone

So, what are you waiting for? Exercise is free, easy to start, has many health benefits – and best of all, the effects are immediate!