You can use your wellness hour to take a walk to the Botanical Garden’s Tropical Greenhouse which offers warmth and free entry for employees. Photo: Anders Berndt.2023-04-14
Don’t forget your wellness hour
All employees are entitled to spend one working hour per week on wellness activities. The wellness hour, as it is known, is important for recovery and for ensuring good health.
The wellness hour cannot be saved up, as the idea is for all employees to make use of it each week to wind down and recharge.
The hour can be used to take a walk, for example. In a 2019 article for the Universen magazine, we interviewed Terry Hartig, Professor of Environmental Psychology at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, as he had been a co-author of the research article: ‘Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing’.
Feel better through nature
In the study, the researchers showed that if a person spends at least two hours out in nature per week, they will see an improvement in both physical and mental health. Those hours do not need to be continuous, but could be divided up over several occasions. Hartig emphasised that the two-hour recommendation should not be interpreted to mean that less time does not have a positive effect. He said at the time: “A one-hour walk in nature is better than no walk at all. We were only able to measure certain specific results in the study, but there are many results or levels of result that we were not able to study.”
Hartig also noted that nature can mean different things to different people: “Nature could mean very different things to different people. In terms of recharging, I usually say that it is important for a person to go from one activity to another, in particular to something that engages them. For example, ditch the digital life and work duties that you’ve been busy with and do something physical that you enjoy.”
Of course, the wellness hour can also be used for other types of activity, such as training at the gym. It could well be a good time now at the beginning of the year to get an annual pass or similar access in order to get going. You can get up to SEK 2,000 per calendar year in a wellness subsidy from the University to cover the cost of wellness activities.
Microbreaks during the working day
Don’t forget to take short breaks regularly during the working day either. These are known as microbreaks and are also important for recovery.
Pernilla Åsenlöf, Professor of Physiotheraphy, wrote in the column ‘It takes conscious effort to replace everyday exercise’ on 8 April 2021 on the Staff Portal:
“Long periods of sitting still are associated with increased rates of mortality, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. So sitting still ought to be limited, interrupted and replaced with physical activity. This is where the idea of the micro break comes in handy. Taking a break from your work, getting up from sitting still and activating your body is what’s most important. What you actually do is not that important, although it can be helpful for you to have a programme of exercises to follow.”
- It takes conscious effort to replace everyday exercise, column on 8 April 2021 on the Staff Portal
- Choir singing as wellness activity, news item on the Staff Portal, 19 January 2023
- Don’t forget your body and brain after your holiday, news item on the Staff Portal, 8 September 2021
- Research article in Scientific Reports, ‘Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being’
- Staff Portal information on the wellness hour and wellness subsidy