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Connect The Dots: Daily Exercise, Mental Health and a Safer Workplace!

To all my safety leaders out there, something has been on my mind for a while now and I am just going to say it. I guess what has been holding me back is the understanding of how many excuses I have made to skip the gym and grab a coffee, beer, or cigarette in the past… the immediate gratification is sometimes tough to overcome.  Tough but necessary.


It doesn’t matter for this discussion if you are a safety manager, or safety leader working in the field with the crews (I know there is a difference), getting daily exercise is one of the most impactful actions you can take to help keep your people healthy and safe.  Prioritizing your own health and leading the charge is the only way to effectively do this, as your people see you doing working on your own health, you can encourage daily exercise among your crew, you might even start daily stretching at the end of toolbox talks.  I’ve been a part of this in the past.  It became something that the crews enjoyed and frankly acknowledged needing.


Here are five connections between fitness, mental health and safety:


1.        Reduce Stress and Anxiety - Exercise releases endorphins into your body. These natural mood elevators help you manage stress and anxiety, which allows you to focus on the task at hand – which might actually protect your hands!


2.        Boost Cognitive Function – remember when jocks were made fun of in high school for not being able to think?! It turns out that physical activity increase blood flow to the brain which enhances memory, learning and decision making! All of these are crucial in maintaining safety protocols and making quick, informed conditions on the job!


3.        Increases Sleep Quality – Regular activity and exercise helps you sleep, which means that you wake up well rested.  Well-rested people are more attentive and less prone to accidents or errors.  Better sleep patterns also reduce drug and alcohol consumption.


4.        Increased Energy Levels – Exercise boosts overall energy and reduces feelings of fatigue – IMMEDIATELY.  With more energy your team can maintain higher productivity and has an easier time staying vigilant during the day, reducing the risk of workplace incident!


5.        Promotes Physical Health – Becoming fit, or more fit makes people become more resistant to illness and injuries.  Regular exercise strengthens muscle and joints which means that a possible injury will be less severe, and being more mobile means that a person may be able to move more quickly and avoid an incident all together.


As safety managers and leaders lets lead by example and promote a culture of health and fitness in our workplaces. Encouraging daily activities and setting aside time for team stretches can foster a healthier, safer and more productive work environment for everyone. 


This seems like common sense, but lately that seems uncommon…


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