Your workday is already overwhelmingly busy — do you really need to squeeze in one more task?
When time is tight at both work and home, take advantage of breaks built into your work day to fit in a little movement. Here are a few ways you can do just that.
Why it’s so important to get a workout, even at work
Being active during the day becomes especially important when you consider much of the workday is spent sitting. And given modern conveniences, when we get home, there’s little we have to do. With homes filled with remote controls, garage door openers, portable phones — and even handheld entertainment centers that can go almost anywhere with us — even those who do exercise are more sedentary than they realize.
We also need to understand that sitting for long periods of time is not good for our bodies or our minds. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — several conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and excess body fat around the waist. Your brain function also slows when your body is sedentary for too long.
“We all know what’s needed — a minimum of 30 minutes per day, which can even be broken into 10 minute intervals, or 10,000 steps a day,” says Diane Scherschel, Wellness program manager at University of Wisconsin Health at The American Center. “The bottom line is you just need to move, and anything is better than nothing. You’ll get benefits from anything you do,” she says.
How to get active and stay active
If you’re not already active, the first step is to ask yourself whether you’re ready to add exercise into your life.
To help get active and stay active, Scherschel recommends three basic steps.
Step 1: Discover your why
It is important to understand, “What do I want my health for? How will regular exercise improve my health?
When you have a clear understanding of your personal reasons for why you want to exercise, it can help motivate and prepare your for overcoming the barriers that you will inevitably encounter.
Step 2: Figure out what gets in your way
Think about your typical workday and figure out what could possibly get in your way. Meetings, having too much work to get done, feeling pressure to stay at your desk, or even just getting caught up in your work — figure out what gets in your way, and then problem solve.
“Brainstorm about your barriers and how to get around them,” Scherschel says. “These thoughts will actually help you overcome any barriers when they arise.”
One example she offers is to schedule a regularly occurring appointment on your calendar for exercise. Then there is less likelihood it will get bumped by other activities and you can be sure to schedule meetings around that time.
Step 3: Make a plan
Adding physical activity to your life is a lot like starting any other work project – you’re not necessarily going to just jump in. You’ll develop a plan – what are you trying to accomplish, why (or what’s your motivation), what are possible barriers – and then get started.
Remember you will not be perfect. There will be days when your plan doesn’t work. In this situation, acknowledge it, learn from it and schedule in your next session.
11 tips and tricks to workout at work
- Take the stairs
- Sign up for noon yoga or another exercise class during your lunch break
- Take the farthest parking spot
- Walk or bike to work
- Do some desk exercises
- Walk the halls of your office building — why not deliver that memo or paperwork in person?
- Pick a bathroom that’s a few floors away
- Make reasons to get up from your desk — set an alarm on your computer to remind yourself to stand up occasionally
- Find some co-workers to exercise with
- When you’re leaving, and it’s a beautiful day, take a few minutes to go for a walk and enjoy the outdoors.
What makes you old?
Finally, a few words of wisdom from early fitness guru Jack LaLane, who lived to be 96. “You do not get old from doing too much,” he said. “You get old from doing too little.”