Monday, December 30, 2013

Why Sustainability Reporting is Good for Your Health

I've never been much of a one for exercise, although, for years, before my kids were born, I would go out walking for about an hour every morning around 6am. I love that time of the morning, when the city slowly starts to come alive. I would walk regularly, every day, week and weekends. There was a period I used to go with my husband to the gym about four times a week as well. Then, the kids came along - yep, you can blame them for everything, (including the fact that I never actually shed those XXX lbs gained during pregnancy so many years ago, hahah), and taking an hour to exercise early in the morning was no longer practical, as it was always my job to get the kids to their kindergartens, then schools, then high schools etc, make the sandwiches and sort out all the last minute stuff that needs to be sorted.

Then, in 2005, I started my own consulting business, and day and night and even weekends just blended into one another and every spare minute of my time just got consumed by my work and things associated with work. Of course, work is no longer work, it's life, and it's fun, when you are independent, doing the stuff you love doing. But a consequence of being gobbled up by work was that the hour before getting the kids out in the morning became screen-time, picking up emails from far corners of the world and ensuring I got up to date before the hecticness of the day set in. For a long while, I just didn't make time for any kind of exercise at all. And the elliptical we optimistically acquired rapidly became an interesting but useless piece of modern home decor.

At some point, I got into a routine of walking for an hour in the evening, together with my husband and son. That was fun, especially when we stopped for falafel on the way back. Haha. But then, in 2012, on one evening walk, I took a fall and broke my kneecap.

And for over a year, I was too scared to go out walking again in case I broke the other one. 

And that's where Sustainability Reporting comes in. 

In 2012-2013, I worked on the first Sustainability Report for GSK Latvia. As part of the community volunteering programs run by GSK in Latvia, there was a piece about helping elderly people in the community learn Nordic Walking.

I'll be honest, and confess that, while working on the report, I didn't really understand the attraction of Nordic Walking. I had never heard of it before. I did a quick web search and found a few video clips of people walking with poles, and it seemed to me rather unremarkable. Walking is walking. So what if you walk with a couple of sticks? How much healthier can that be? Why buy special poles just to walk?  

Now, you can see where I am heading. After breaking my leg, and being rather sensitive in general where knees are concerned (my other knee was operated on when I was 22 and it's never been quite right since), I suddenly remembered the Nordic Walking Poles I had written about in GSK Latvia's report. I bought myself a set, and lo and behold, I have become a Nordic Walker. And guess what. I now understand why Nordic Walking so much more invigorating than simply walking-walking. By moving with poles, you actually give your upper body a workout at the same time as your lower body, while reducing the stress on your spine and knees. I actually feel the benefit in my arms and shoulders, as well as my shins and thighs. I also feel much more stable and much more confident, even at quite a pace. I now really get it. And I have become Nordic Walking's number one fan. I still have to get myself into a routine where I can Nordic Walk every day, as work and family are still all-consuming, but I am starting to form a plan. 

And that, my friends, is why Sustainability Reporting is good for your health!

And here is a photo taken during this morning's Nordic Walk at 8:30am in Herzliya Park.

Oh and by the way, GSK Latvia's 2012 CSR Report is shortlisted in CRRA '14 online reporting awards in the Best First Time Report category.  As it is most definitely a report with a proven health benefit, I think it deserves your vote!

PS: Thanks to the great Veronica Scheubel who posted on Facebook her New Year Resolution to do more Nordic Walking, which inspired me to write this post!

Happy New Nordic Year everyone!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me at   or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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