It’s the start of a new year, so how many of us are thinking “I’ll start to get fit; be more active; take up yoga?” Unfortunately, we never have time and it’s always on the to-do list. We have deskbound jobs and are part of an aging workforce, so are we really kidding ourselves that we will have time to fit everything in?
Welsh Government has policies that support us; when we are sick they allow us time off to go to the GP and to hospital appointments. And now they have a new policy; one that we, your union, helped shape. The health and well-being hour shifts the focus from treatment to prevention, allowing you up to 60 minutes a week to do something that helps your well-being.
For physical activity, 10 minutes at a time is fine, although the NHS guidelines recommend 150 minutes each week, which sounds like a lot, but it's not. Its 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend watching a film. The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don't have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It is about what works best for you, as long as you are doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time. Of course, physical activity also helps mindfulness but both are acceptable for using your well-being hour.
You can take 12 minutes a day, 30 minutes twice a week, a whole hour or in any pattern that works for you and which best helps you to improve your well-being. You can take the time in the course of the working day, which is 7am – 7pm. You can use the hour at the beginning or end of the day but it must be to undertake activity that will improve your wellbeing; not solely for the purpose of starting work later or finishing earlier. It should give you an opportunity to improve your well-being during your normal working hours.
This pragmatic and progressive initiative is entirely consistent with the aims of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which seeks to improve the quality of life for the people of Wales now and in the future. It also aligns to the healthy and active theme within prosperity for all: the national strategy. In addition, it is consistent with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Go Home Healthy campaign and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Great Jobs for Everyone campaign.