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Using technology to support physical activity

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Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

 

Using technology to support physical activity

Many Eworklife survey participants mentioned missing the physical activities that they used to engage in before the lockdown: gym classes, swimming, walking more than once a day, even the strolls between different office buildings…

Research shows that physical activity is crucial to physical and mental wellbeing: ‘When we move more, we become smarter; as we become stronger, chronic pain decreases. Greater movement, especially in social contexts, improves collaboration. As we move, not only do we reduce stress: we improve our capacity to handle stressful situations and to see more options for creative new solutions. Movement enhances both strength and stamina, improves bone mineral density and balance, reducing incidence of falling and associated hip injuries (causes of death in the elderly). Movement complements other functions, from assisting with sleep and therefore memory and cognition, to helping with diet and associated hormones – improving insulin sensitivity and balancing cortisol.’

And yet, many people do not move enough: we sit at our desks, we increasingly shop online from the comfort of the sofa. This bias towards sedentary behaviour is especially salient during the lockdown, as most of us are confined to our homes for the majority of the time.

However, there are many ways in which technology can help you stay active during the lockdown:

  • Free online workouts. Take advantage of the countless workout videos posted on YouTube by personal trainers and fitness gurus. Put this activity in your calendar and find a friend you can workout with for added accountability and social support. There are many free browser extensions that will let you and your exercise buddy synchronise your videos.
  • Track your movement. Research shows that tracking behaviour can help if you want to experience improvement. Knowing how much you already exercise and when can be helpful – perhaps you tend to move less on weekdays or your exercise routine could be 5 or 10 minutes longer? There are many free applications to help track physical activity. For example, RunKeeper and Strava can plot your workouts on a map. Fitocracy gamifies exercise by letting you collect points and unlock rewards. If you are typically motivated by a specific goal, C25K 5K Trainer will help you improve your fitness to the point where you can run a 5K.
  • Listen to music. Music can help us focus, relax, and increase enjoyment of exercise. Listening to music can improve your coordination and – perhaps most importantly – it can help you just start that run. If you feel that you do not have enough energy or motivation to exercise at the end of your workday, then just put on energetic music (and you running shoes) and see what happens!