Fitting exercise into the working day
Give your productivity a boost and get out from behind your desk
Margaret Young encourages all office workers to get moving.
We desk-bound workers find ourselves wondering how we can fit exercise and movement into the already hectic schedules of our working day.
If you have a busy job or a long commute, or both, you may find that by the time you have gotten home, eaten and cleaned up, the last thing you feel like doing is heading to the gym, especially in bad weather or if you have children to mind. It makes absolute sense to incorporate exercise into your working day from a practical point of view. The bonus is the potential for increased productivity, and what could be better than that?
1. Regular movement
If you’re stuck to a desk for hours at a time and find yourself stiff when you eventually head to the printer, it might be a good idea to get yourself a fitness tracker. It can be a budget one, you’re not planning on climbing Everest, you just want it to monitor your activity and for it to remind you every hour to 90 minutes, to get up and move.
A lot of people think their leisurely lunchtime stroll is burning a lot more calories than it is. All movement is good and it’s a starting point but to maximise your lunchtime walk, think about setting some targets. Use an app such as Map my Walk and make sure you are hitting your distance targets. Next, try to decrease the time it takes to walk this distance by a few seconds a day. If you’re the more competitive type, have a pedometer challenge with colleague or friends.
If you have access to shower facilities at work, you have the essentials. If you think you don’t, always ask. I worked for months in a building unaware that there were showering facilities. An hour is ample time for a 5k run, a shower and a bite to eat. You will be energised for the afternoon and delighted when you get home from work that you have already met your exercise goals for the day. I trained for winter half-marathons with the bulk of my training done during lunchtimes as I knew I would not run in the cold dark nights when I got home from work. I recommend Spotify for music, not too loud as you need to hear the traffic, and if you are taking it a little more seriously and want to train for a race, the Nike running app has plenty of 30 minute or less coaching sessions.
4. On-site classes
If you are lucky enough to have exercise classes on site provided by your employer, then what are you waiting for? Forget about being self-conscious in front of your colleagues, it’s actually a great way to network. If you don’t have classes available already, get on to HR and start campaigning. Most HR departments worth their salt are keen to boost morale and reduce absenteeism and what better way to promote a healthy workforce and wellness-focused environment than with a subsidised exercise class?
The latest trend in meetings is the walking meeting, the idea being that one-to-one or very small group meetings stay productive and succinct by constant movement. In the interests of keeping meetings short and productive, this trend is growing. The fresh spring weather could be an incentive here. A short route around your office block/ campus is ideal and can be lapped a couple of times if it’s too short. They are not for all office culture but, for some, certainly worth a try.