Work keeping you from the gym? Here’s how to incorporate fitness into your schedule

Work keeping you from the gym? Here’s how to incorporate fitness into your schedule

Is your daily schedule getting in the way of your fitness goals?

It’s easy to put off a workout and hope to squeeze one in tomorrow, but why wait? It’s never too early to start healthy habits.

So, how can you fit exercise into your hectic schedule? Try working out at work.

Physical activity at work is likely already part of your daily routine, so try be more intentional about burning off those extra calories. In fact, researchers have found that devoting time to physical activity at work can even lead to higher productivity.

“Try taking the stairs rather than the elevators when you can,” says Karen Lawver, a physical therapy assistant at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “These extra steps can add up throughout your day, resulting in additional calories being burned all day long. Walk down the hallway to address an issue rather than sending an email. Take a short walk over your lunch break, or walk home from work if you live nearby.”

Office workouts can vary and include everything from swapping a desk chair for a stability ball to running up and down the stairs on your break. And physical activity isn’t the only healthy habit you can maintain at work.

“Keep a water bottle at your desk to ensure you stay hydrated throughout your day,” says Lawver. “Hunger often disguises itself as thirst, so try drinking water first before reaching for those office snacks.”

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  1. I’m so tired of the “take the stairs” shtick. Is that all you’ve got? What about the millions of us who work in downtown high rises where the stairs are unaccessible?

    And walk home? Are you kidding me? Again, this is a large urban area. How many of us live close enough to walk?

    Why are you always harping on individuals to do better despite their hectic schedules? Why don’t you harp on employers to give employees reasonable schedules so they can stay healthy? Quit blaming the victim.

    • Dienne, Your no-can-do “victim” mentality is the real problem.

    • Dienne, I hear you and understand your frustration as I share it.

      I actually have the same frustration with this advice and do agree that taking the stairs is not possible in many downtown high rises. You can get into the stairwell but can only exit on the 1st floor. In some buildings it is also discouraged and may not be safe.

      So i had to relearn what I considered exercise. I had to just think of any movement above my normal routine as exercise. While I’d like to have an intense workout that I would get working with a personal trainer or in an exercise class for the most part those options are not available to me as I don’t have the time or income to do either. But if I just think of getting 30 minutes of moving above my normal routine each day that’s better than nothing. I also don’t try to do all 30 minutes at one time anymore. Trying to do 30 minutes at a time didn’t work consistently so I break things down into 10 minute increments. Not ideal but not completely undoable and it works well for when I get a bit too stressed at work. When I can, I stroll around the perimeter of our office space. But more importantly I use a pedometer to try to track how much I am walking so that if I can’t physically do 10 minutes at a time I can at least count the number of steps I do each day.

      However, I used to walk from my train station to my office and I’d get in 4 miles a day. However, after a few personal safety scares (I did this before 6am to give myself time to do it and keep my workday focused on work) and now with bone spurs in my feet and arthritic knees walking on bare concrete is no longer an option. So I switched to water aerobics but it seems most water aerobics classes are geared to folks who are retired or do not work as the classes are during the middle of the day. So now water aerobics only for Saturdays, but I still have to make up the remaining 100 minutes each week.

      I’ve tried walking the perimeter of stores (Target, Walmart, Menards) where the surfaces are a little more forgiving to my feet and knees but this I have to do on a limited basis as well or end up in pain.

      Next up is doing the chair exercise videos on YouTube and walking (well poking along) with my old arthritic dogs. There are a lot of videos on YouTube and I’ve selected a few enthusiastic PTs I’d like to follow.

      Good luck to you Dienne.

  2. I do a few squats and knee lifts during a bathroom break. I do also do laps around the unit. I will say I work the night shift so it is a little easier for me to incorporate these activities. I park away from the door at the stores to add extra steps into my normal daily routine.

  3. I have friends who work in high rises downtown and they take the stairs in the morning and at the end of the day to get their steps in. it is possible you just have to see it, then do it.

About the Author

Adila Esaak
Adila Esaak

Adila Esaak is a senior at Loyola University of Chicago. This spring, she will receive her B.S. in Health Systems Management. During her time at Loyola, she worked at the university’s Wellness Center and started a chapter organization for underprivileged children and women in India called Aahana. In her spare time, she enjoys going to arcades, cuddling with her cat and exploring Chicago.