By: Sarah Weddle
If you’re an office worker, you’ve probably heard time and time again about how sitting at a desk all day is going to kill you. I’d wager at least half of you reading this post are wearing a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or some other device in an attempt to track your steps or make sure that you’re at least a little bit active every day.
In full disclosure, I am one of those (annoying?) people who actually enjoy working out. It keeps me sane, lowers my stress level, and feels good! I have always been a big fan of exercise, playing on sports teams from my youth right up through college. But, as I transitioned into the professional world, I had to figure out how to fit in exercise around a full-time job. We all know the challenges that that presents, but I’ve managed to make it work, with an average of 4 workouts (sometimes more, sometimes less) every week.
Everyone’s situation is unique, with different commutes, job flexibility, family circumstances, finances – there are a lot of variables that can make or break a workout. I am not married. I don’t have kids. This means I have free time that other people don’t have! But, regardless of how busy my life gets, I always make time to exercise. This is especially true when I feel overloaded or stressed at work. Squeezing in a workout – even a small one – can reset my frame of mind (and my mood).
Below are my suggestions for finding a way to work hard and workout hard.
Make it a Priority
This is the ultimate secret to my success when it comes to staying active. Getting a workout in is absolutely one of my top priorities. No matter what else is going on in my life, I will find the time to exercise. If I’m particularly busy with work or have a lot of social obligations, I may not make every single workout, but I will try to fit in as many as I can. Sometimes this means that I wake up early and workout before work because I have dinner plans at night with friends (my preference is an evening workout); sometimes this means I squeeze in an abbreviated workout over lunch because it’s the only free time I have; sometimes this means I just go for a quick walk outside.
This is similar to the first suggestion, but if you schedule your workout like an appointment, you’re more likely to stick to it. This isn’t always possible – things do come up – but a schedule helps. I recommend sitting down on a Sunday, deciding how many workouts you’d like to do that week, and then figuring out how you can fit them in around your other obligations. Then, put them on your calendar and plan for them.
In all honesty, this tip doesn’t actually work for me, but as a marketer, I know the power of social media. So, if you plan to work out, share it on social media. This will make you feel more obligated to actually do it. If you don’t want to publicize it, tell your coworkers about your exercise plans. They’ll likely follow up with you the next day about it, which will, again, make you feel more obligated to do it.
Set a Goal
If you are burnt out or just unmotivated to exercise, setting a goal can help. For me, this typically means signing up for a road race or a triathlon. For someone else, it may mean setting a goal to hit a certain number of workouts in a month or improving a timed exercise.
Find a Workout You Love
Listen, if you don’t enjoy working out, you probably need to try a different type of exercise. There are so many options out there, so figure out what works for you! I love to run. Most people do not. But, there is something out there for everyone, so keep trying new things!
Acknowledge the Season of Your Life
It is unlikely that you will be able to maintain the same level of exercise forever. If you recently had a child, it’s okay to scale back. If you work in accounting and it’s tax season, it’s okay to scale back. Remind yourself that this is just one chapter of your life and it will eventually pass, and then set reasonable expectations for the season you’re in.
Join a Group
For the most part, I enjoy working out by myself – especially when it comes to running. I love to mentally check out and spend time with my own thoughts (or a podcast or TV show). But, when I started training for triathlons, I found that I needed a little motivation to stay committed. First, I joined a swim group at my YMCA. We meet every week for an hour and do a set workout from a coach. I feel like I’m part of a team, and on those days where I don’t feel like getting in the pool (most days, to be honest), I remember that I paid for the class and that people expect me to show up (and will text me if I don’t). I need similar motivation to get on my bike, but as a member of a local triathlon club, West Chester Women’s Multisport, I can always find someone to ride with me, which helps me to stay committed and focused.
If you love what you do, sitting at a desk all day doesn’t seem like the worst thing. At GMP, we work really hard to serve our clients and to deliver results – but we also really value time away from our desks. Prioritizing your health will only serve to make you a better employee (and probably a happier person too). I hope these tips help. If you’re ever looking for race recommendations or a workout buddy, let me know!