John Neal: Encourage physical and mental winter exercise 

john neal

As the leaves begin to turn, the last of the outdoor fitness training sessions disappear alongside daylight.

It is much easier to leave an exercise programme for staff until the New Year begins, when there is ahint of a spring ahead and perhapsfor some the motivation of a marathon or a ski trip. But the lead-up to winter can be a great chance to trysomething new: set some new targets and begin a new challenge other than the usual swim the channel and climb Everest at the gym.

Exercise can take many forms but rarely includes a big focus on stretching and mindfulness, which is a shame, because such activities are shown to have a major effect upon long-term health and resilience. Plus they can be done in a nice warm room.

Perhaps employers could consider giving the bike and the treadmill a little less attention and start to increase the flexibility of their employees’ minds and bodies. Classes such as yoga and pilates are a great start, or for the more adventurous Bikram hot yoga or power yoga, both of which will give staff a great workout.

For the mind, employers may consider a quirky meditation programme such as encouraging employees to eat just one Malteser for a week, but take at least five minutes to eat it, while focusing on the weight in their hand, the texture in their mouth, and the flavours as it begins to melt. Just see what something as simple as this can do for workers’ state of mind.

John Neal, Sports Business Partnership, Ashridge Executive Education, Hult International Business School