15 Tips to Squeeze a Workout into Your Busy Work Schedule
I don’t mean to brag, but I tend to be an overachiever. I’ll give you an example: Most folks gain the freshman 15, I did that and the sophomore 40. Eventually, I channeled dedication I had been using to dig into take-out containers towards getting back in shape.
In so doing, I uncovered an appreciation for health-conscious living—or at least a valiant on-going attempt. This carried through to my studies (a graduate degree in Nutrition Communications), my hobbies (marathons/triathlons), and ultimately my career (health communications).
In joining JPA Health this past fall, I resonated with the company’s purpose, or what we like to call our “Why?”. Whether our clients are nonprofits, medical device companies, biotechs or healthcare companies, they all share a similar “why”—a commitment to making people healthier. It’s a cause we’re driven to advance, both for our clients and in our internal office culture.
This year, I’m excited to join JPA’s Step Challenge, now in its tenth year. Come spring, the office is split into teams, and a month-long friendly competition ensues to see which group can rack up the most steps.
Being that we all have desk jobs and upwards of 40-hour work weeks, it can be a tricky to fit in steps during the challenge, let alone physical activity year-round amidst our day jobs, family life, and external commitments.
It’s not easy. If it were, two-thirds of Americans would not be overweight or obese, and $4.3 billion a year would not be lost to job absenteeism and lower work productivity resulting from weight-associated health complications.
With that preface, there are measures you can take to help make time to be physically active. Below is a list of these “motivation hacks.” Recognize any that work for you already? Are there others that were left off? Chime in below in the comments section about what tips work best for you.
Track Your Progress
- Picture yourself at optimal health. Build a vision board if you’re crafty. If you’re more of a writer, journal what life would be like at your goal weight or your definition of healthy.
- Invest in a tech gadget to collect health data. Whether it’s done with a Fitbit, Garmin, SmartWatch or other means of tracking your activity, there’s something about capturing the data that drives you to beat your past self.
- Take down measurements. The scale isn’t always reliable. You can gain a pound of water weight and that will have you tempted to throw in the towel. Measurements can give you another way to assess progress, so if you gain weight one week, but are still holding strong measurement-wise or shrinking, you know it’s not real weight gain.
- Take pictures throughout your journey. If you start to feel discouraged about your path, look back at your baseline pictures and remember how far you’ve come.
- Place your alarm clock in another room. To avoid downfall by snooze button, place your phone or alarm clock out of arm’s reach from your bed.
- Lay out your workout gear and pack your gym bag the night before. Some folks even sleep in gym clothes. Whatever you need to do so that you are practically rolling out of bed in the morning and walking out the door.
- Prep your meals. Diet can sometimes be overlooked factor in striving for health. Batch-cooking healthy meals in advance of the week can make it easier to stay on track with your eating so that your fitness gains are not counteracted.
- Plan “recovery” weeks. A good rule of thumb is to plan every fourth week to be lower in the number and intensity of workouts. This prevents injury and burnout.
- Sign up for an event. A race or competition on the horizon makes your fitness regimen time-sensitive. When you have a set number of days to prepare, you’re more likely to make the most of them.
- Have an external source of accountability. It’s easy to talk yourself out of a workout, but you are less likely to bail on a previously scheduled commitment with another person. Whether it’s an online coach, a personal trainer, or an exercise buddy, set yourself up so that whether you have the motivation or not, you have to follow through.
- Schedule social outings that incorporate activity. Grab your friends and take in the scenery during a long hike, get your shopping done in a mall or lose yourself in the halls of a museum.
- Go to group gym classes. As a nice reprieve from doing a workout on your own, rely on an instructor to yell out commands and let yourself go into “zombie mode.” Following along distracts you from the internal voices that would otherwise be screaming even more loudly about how you don’t want to be there.
Keep it Fresh
- Try new ways of working out. Kickbox? Zumba? Belly dance? Aqua aerobics!?!
- Buy new fitness gear or workout outfit! Suddenly you have a pep in your gym step.
- Download a new playlist of tunes or the latest podcast. If your gym has reliable Wi-Fi, you can bring a tablet and watch your favorite show while on a cardio machine.
Small changes add up. Even a modest amount of weight loss can make a big difference in health, as researchers concluded in a hallmark study called the Diabetes Prevention Program. Prediabetic individuals who, on average, lost even just seven percent of their body weight saw their risk of developing diabetes fall by 58 percent.
The benefits are clear, and any activity is better than nothing, so here’s to putting one foot in front of the other!