Health experts say exercise is vital for Australia’s 1.4 million shift workers, whose odd hours can wreak havoc on fitness, sleep, workplace safety and productivity.
Ironically, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, people with the most interrupted sleep patterns are often doing the kind of work that requires keen mental alertness and physical fitness, such as health care, mining, transport and hospitality.
Roz Barker, Managing Director of 24-hour gym chain Snap Fitness says exercise is even more important for shift-workers because of the nature of their work, and urges shift-workers to take responsibility for their fitness.
“It’s a difficult lifestyle to lead and it’s easy to let exercise fall by the wayside, but Snap’s all-hours workout capability leaves shift-workers less room for excuses,” she said.
“For many shift-workers, Snap Fitness is the only way to incorporate exercise into their unusual schedules.”
Ben Rattray, Assistant Professor in Exercise Physiology at the University of Canberra said aerobic exercise could help shift workers overcome the detrimental effects of unusual sleep schedules.
“Shift work upsets normal body rhythms and throws the body into chaos in terms of its hormonal responses and can lead to systemic inflammation which can cause our bodies to store fat and become insulin resistant”, he said.
“You do things when you exercise that naturally reduce the systemic inflammation and improve your quality of sleep so regular exercise after work could be quite therapeutic for shift workers.
“The fitter someone is the more blood flow gets to their brain. The more blood flow a person’s brain has the better their cognitive ability and decision making skills.”
Renowned recruitment expert Sarina Russo confirms that employees need fitness for energy, endurance and mind balance, to cope with the mixture of positive and negative forces that come their way.
“Discipline is a recruitment quality we look for and you need to be physically fit through exercise and diet and balanced of mind to offset your work stresses,” Ms Russo said.
Snap Fitness Morningside member and hospital employee Rosie Mazzola affirms that exercise has improved her quality of life as a shift-worker.
“Previously, if I wanted to go to the gym, I had to go in the middle of my sleeping hours so I just stopped going, but now, I can squeeze in a workout at Snap at 3am after my shift which helps me sleep right through the day.
“Sometimes I workout at Snap before my shift at about 10pm, which clears my mind, and I always feel so much more alert and motivated at work.”
Snap Fitness debuted in Australia late 2009, and currently has 26 gyms nationwide, with 13 more to open in the next three months.