Stressed? An apple a day…

So, we got a new puppy. Her name is Apple. She is a British Cocker Spaniel, white with brown freckles. This was quite a long time coming as I can tell by looking at this drawing by my daughter, Liv, which was created a few years ago when she was seven. Apple has already become a full-fledged member of the family. She wants to be where we are and in fact, as I am writing this, she’s right next to me, sleeping soundly. She makes us laugh when she tries to steal one of our socks out of the laundry basket and it’s already hard to imagine life without her.

Given the latest research by the British Medical Journal Open, and other medical studies, Apple also helps us cope with stress more effectively and adds to our life span. How? For one, her mere presence has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels in our blood (a stress hormone closely correlated with disease). Secondly, Apple’s thirst for walks keeps us moving, avoiding the dangers of a sedentary life style, which carries similar dangers to obesity or smoking. According to studies, the average American spends over half of their day (close to seven-and-a-half hours) sitting. If I compare this to the average executive I partner with as a coach we are probably talking more about 12 to 13 hour days, commute not included.

Unfortunately, few of the executives I work with have the luxury of bringing a pet to work. Having one at home, though, can carry benefits in terms of stress reduction. When it comes to the physical activity over the course of a work day, small steps to reduce our sitting time can offer a significant cumulative effect. Here are some of the things clients of mine have suggested doing:

  • have a ‘walking meeting’ with a colleague
  • install a handle bar on the ceiling of their office and do pull ups on a regular basis
  • have a standing lunch, ideally somewhere outside with some nature or trees
  • walk or ride your bike to work every day
  • install a stand up desk in your office and switch it up over the course of the day with your regular desk
  • sit on a big gym ball
  • walk over to your colleague and say it in person, rather than via email (may be a good idea anyway, depending on the subject matter!)

If you have any creative ideas you have tried, we would love to hear from you. As for me, Apple has just nudged me, so it’s time to take her for another stroll…