In our fast-paced and demanding work environments, finding ways to look after our mental health and overall wellbeing is crucial. Recent research by the University of Bath, published in the academic journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, suggests that combining two specific activities can bring us amplified wellbeing benefits when compared to doing them alone.

Although the research looked at improvements in all areas of life, there is immense value in applying these findings specifically in a workplace context, where stress and overwhelm can often prevail and where – more than ever – we need easy, actionable steps to take care of ourselves.

Read on to find out what the two activities are and to discover some easy, actionable tips on incorporating these ideas into your daily workplace routine. But first, let’s look at the study’s insights in a little more detail.

The research findings: a brief overview

The study, which analysed 35 research papers on the combined effects of mindfulness and exercise, shows a promising connection between physical activity and mindfulness for our overall wellbeing.

Rather than viewing them as separate entities, the research suggests that by combining our go-to physical activity with mindfulness the positives of each are more than doubled, which represents a significant win-win-win for our wellbeing.

And the even better news is that there are some great ways we can all harness these findings to help us when we feel stressed or overwhelmed, or as a preventative measure to nurture our wellbeing day to day.

Here are some suggestions below of how you can get started, but of course you’ll have your own go-to exercises and preferred ways of moving your body, and so please do what works best for you and your body.

Routine disruption

When we repeatedly do something – whether that be driving to work, showering or playing a sport – we go into autopilot after a while. Think about when you are learning a new route to the shops, for the first few journeys you’ll be aware, and after some time you can often tend to arrive without remembering the journey.

Maybe you can recall noticing this when you were learning to drive, or first riding a bike. You may have felt this self-consciousness even when learning elements of your job. We tend to think of this phase of learning as a stepping stone to being more skilful and competent, but in the context of the research findings, this awareness can bring benefits to our wellbeing as we are much more ‘in the moment’ as we have to think about what we are doing rather than acting on autopilot.

Introducing small changes to your usual routine in order to to maintain your awareness or presence ‘in the moment’ and take you out of autopilot has huge benefits for our wellbeing. This applies universally to any activity you enjoy, whether you’re a pickleball enthusiast, a gym-goer, or a morning walker with a furry companion.

But how can this knowledge help with the activities we routinely do and consider ourselves relatively skilled at?

You can start by introducing some small changes to how you do things. This approach is commonly known Routine Disruption, and it’s a quick way to bring yourself into the present moment as you engage in any of your favourite activities. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you go out for a walk with your dog in the mornings before work, switch up your usual routine by walking the circuit the other way round (if your dog will let you of course!)
  • If you take your phone to listen to music while you’re at the gym, make a conscious choice to leave it at home or switch it off
  • Tackle your usual gym routine in a different order

These small, conscious changes to activities in which you regularly engage can help to keep your brain alert and more grounded in the present moment, bringing about the wellbeing benefits described in the research.

Practical ways to combine physical activity and conscious thinking throughout your day

There are many ways we can infuse our day with more presence and awareness, and this can include many aspects of our daily routine:

  • Morning conscious stretching: On waking, transform your morning routine by incorporating conscious stretches. As you wake up, take a few moments for intentional stretching, feeling the movement and connecting with your body. How does your spine feel as you stretch? Where do you feel most tension and how can you release it just a little?
  • Mindful showering: Your morning shower is a great way to practice bringing yourself into the moment. Pay attention to the feel of water on your body, noticing the temperature variations. Is it hot, cool or somewhere in between? How does the water feel on your skin?
  • Walking: During your lunch break, or if you are fortunate enough to be able to walk to work, seize opportunities for a spot of conscious walking. Consciously engage with the sensory experience of your surroundings as you walk, noticing the sights, sounds, and smells around you.


As we all navigate the ever-changing demands of the workplace, integrating physical activity and conscious thinking becomes not just a luxury but  a necessity.

When we bring together movement and conscious thinking, tailoring them to the unique challenges of the workplace, they hold immense potential for enhancing our workplace resilience and wellbeing.

Tianne Croshaw
Founder at Resilience Wellbeing Partnership | Website | + posts

Tianne is an expert in resilience and mindset, and the visionary founder of Resilience Wellbeing Partnership. She offers nearly two decades of experience delivering impactful training and resilience coaching to organisations. Her achievements include leading a three-year resilience programme for a pharmaceutical client, remarkably reducing stress-related absenteeism from 8% to 0%. Furthermore, Tianne is a contributing author to the book ‘Organisational Change’.