Here Are Some Statistics
- The average office worker sits 15 hours every single day and people who have long commutes, even more. (Forbes 2020)
- Sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since the 1950s. (American Heart Association)
- Less than 5% of US adults participate in physical activity for 30 minutes a day (health.gov)
- People who have spent more than 6 hours per day sitting with low levels of physical activity have a 71% increased mortality rate (American Journal of Epidemiology)
Ok, so the last one sounds quite dramatic but it is something to think about. We’re young professionals at the early stages of our careers and for some, these years are intense with long nights, meetings, deadlines, and all with the eagerness of trying to prove ourselves in the workplace or to our clients. Being young it is easy to stay active but it is much easier to convince ourselves that anything can be compromised for our careers, even our health, and fitness. But, we need to change our thinking, our career and work is important, but compromising on fitness should never be an option because working on fitness (as you can see by some of the data above) is working towards being more productive, especially at work.
Data from many studies show that when people maintain a healthy lifestyle, their stress levels are lowered, their thinking is sharper, they sleep better, and their overall happiness increases. This is a recipe for productivity and success and therefore can benefit us in all areas of our lives, including work.
Some ideas to think about to start:
Define Your Goals
The first step to succeed at anything is to know exactly what you want to achieve, and for maintaining a fit lifestyle that shouldn’t be hard. Sit down (or do it standing), and write down (or type, but have it in print!) the exact goals you want to meet. Start with what you believe is a good handle of your time and current physical state and write down a list of where, how and what to begin. Short term goals come first, so focus on those. This could be committing to 30 minutes of physical activity a day, working out every other day, or using the stairs to get to your office in lieu of the elevator. Or you can also define your goals by specific areas in what you wish to improve; running to increase stamina, weight lifting for increased metabolic rate and so on. It is important to set realistic goals, but don’t go easy on yourself especially at the beginning, as you want to start off strong with good habits that can lead into your long term goals. Even though short term is the focus, still make note of your long term goals. Those can be, fulfilling a 10k run the next year, lowering your BMI or the elimination of unhealthy habits. Understanding your goals will help you achieve them so write them down and keep them close.
Schedule them in
As we are hard-working young professionals, we get tired quite easily and the desire to pass on a fitness opportunity never seems that bad of an idea. But, you already wrote down your goals and now you need to fit their work into your busy life and the best way to do that is by planning. Schedule your workouts throughout your week fitting them into times that you are most likely to keep to. You can set alerts for reminders or to prepare (for me, I love using Google calendar for my fitness schedule). If it is ‘penciled in’, you are more likely to commit, so take advantage of this skill and use it to facilitate your goals.
If you stick to your schedule, overtime you will gain healthier and better habits. This is simply true and most likely will happen. And it won’t take very long either. I know from first hand experience as I have only begun committing to a healthier lifestyle and after three weeks, I experience an effortless change in my habits.
The Not-Workout Workouts
Sometimes however, our workload is too much and sticking to our regular fitness schedules (and all other schedules) is nearly impossible. When this happens, stick to only your smallest goals and turn some everyday habits into a workout. Taking the stairs, parking further away, and commuting by bicycle are some examples you can incorporate when working from an office. And if you are still working from home, try and incorporate small 10 minute workouts in between tasks. It is only 10 minutes but it can really help you maintain the progress you acquired prior to those hard weeks. Also, those habits that you're beginning to pick up will make these weeks easier because ‘fitness’ will begin to feel more natural.
Best Version of You
This might sound cliche but it is the truth. You want to be the best version of yourself and exercising your body is a great part of that. When you work on your fitness and health you are creating a better vehicle to deliver your daily tasks and goals. Working on your physical health can sharpen your mental health leading to a more effortless productive life. And that’s my piece.