How To FIt In Exercise When You Have A Full-Time Job
It’s relentless; work schedules can be unforgiving, the emails are ceaseless – and this can really interfere with your exercise regime, often reduce it dramatically, or in some cases, stop it altogether. The paradox here though is that when you are stressed and sedentary, one of the best things you can do is to move your body.
Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining bone density, muscle tone, good posture and to carry out ones’ usual activities, as well as reducing stress, your risk of disease, and improving sleep! (Warburton et al. 2006)
The FBF Collective Top 6 Tips to increase Daily Movement
- Make time for it: structure your day, whether that be making a list or putting a timetable together for yourself – it doesn’t need to be strictly followed but it can help in preventing the day from turning into chaos and you feeling like you haven’t achieved a workout which, if you had planned beforehand, may have been achievable. Treat it like an appointment and prioritise it e.g., block off time on your work or personal calendar to exercise.
- Increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), is the energy expended through movement throughout the day – it accounts to around 15-20% of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), so it shouldn’t be underrated.
- set a reminder to stand and stretch every hour, or even better every half hour – even just for 1-2 minutes.
- try having meetings on the go (if you can), like taking calls whilst going on a walk and go up and down the stairs a couple times if you live in a house, or a flight of stairs if you’re in a block of flats.
- make the most of your time waiting for the kettle to boil – try walking or jogging on the sort or doing a few air squats (3x 10 reps).
- keep your personal phone in a separate room whilst working – you’ll have to get up and move to retrieve it.
- invest in a standing desk!
- Be realistic: our founder Florence Seabright states “it’s better to set yourself a target that you can hit consistently and build that up over time, than to set unrealistic targets that you can never meet!”. The path of least possible resistance will be the best approach to building a new habit initially, and then solidifying that habit with some immediate success. If you set your goals too big too soon, then you are likely to get discouraged when you don’t meet your goals, which will demotivate you. Immediate success will provide an immediate sense of reward which is more likely to reinforce a habit than a long, arduous effort. When you cultivate consistent small habits, this will eventually grow into something significant.
- Commitment + Consistency = Change
- Sleep well: you’ll be much more likely to do that morning workout, or even one after work, if you’ve had a good night’s kip the night before.
- Habit stacking: in his book Atomic Habits, James Clear states that "habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”. How do you build healthy habits? By making them easy, attractive, and simple. This might look like forming a new exercise habit around an already strongly formed habit. For example, if you always drive home from work the same direction, maybe you can find a gym that’s on the way to become part of your leaving or going to work routine. Or even make the journey to work your exercise routine by either walking, running, or biking to work and back if possible.
- Find a time that suits YOU: our personal trainer Maria suggests that “if you have long and unpredictable working days and feel knackered by the end of the day, try and get movement in before work so it’s out of the way”. It might work better for you to have a break at lunch and feel refreshed and refocused by doing a session mid-day - enabling you to be more productive the rest of the day! Knowing and understanding what works best for your own bodies will be key to optimising your own health.
Remember, it is NEVER too late to start exercising. Having goals that go beyond aesthetic standards will keep you motivated for longer. Seeing your posture improving or your back pain disappearing, and just feeling generally more energetic and in a better mood is a lot more rewarding than abs. Often we just need to find the right guidance…
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Written by Abby Attenborough,
Nutritionist (ANutr) and certified Personal Trainer