The following is Guest Post by Ali from The Office Diet.
I run two blogs, aimed at very different audiences – one is for office workers, the other for students. At first glance, the “busyness” problems faced by each group might seem very different:
• Office workers typically have an 8am – 4pm or 9am – 5pm workday
• Students consider 8am classes to be inhumanly early
• Office workers’ weekdays follow pretty much the same pattern day after day
• Students have flexible, variable and sometimes unpredictable schedules
• Office workers don’t tend to do anything “job related” at the weekend
• Students often work on essays and assignments over the weekend…
…and so on!
But when thinking about making time for fitness, both groups can benefit from surprisingly similar advice. And exercise doesn’t have to take up hours of time (in fact, you’ll probably get better results if it doesn’t.) Here are four habits that can help busy office workers, busy students, and anyone else who has ever said “I’m too busy to stay fit.”
Integrate exercise into your day
Instead of seeing exercise as something which has to take up a huge chunk of your non-existent spare time, look for ways to tweak your daily routine so that exercise fits in naturally. My favourite method is to have an active commute; instead of driving to work or college, walk or cycle. If the distance makes that impractical, can you walk at least part of the journey?
Image by Amsterdamize
Another great way to fit in exercise without it taking up time is to walk or cycle to the store when you’re going grocery shopping. Carrying all the bags home will help boost your fitness too. Plus, if you haven’t got the car, you’ll be less tempted to buy things you don’t need – like those family-sized packs of chocolate cookies.
Get away from your desk and computer
Students and office workers typically spend a lot of time hunched over a keyboard and desk. This is bad for your body and can lead to serious back problems, or RSI. Although students tend to feel invulnerable because they’re young and usually not prone to aches and twinges, student study facilities can be particularly poor for comfort – offices at least have good quality chairs with proper back support.
As well as being bad for your body, spending hours at a desk is bad for your mind. If you find yourself unable to concentrate on studying or work, it’s probably because you’ve not taken a break in a while. Make a point of getting up every hour to stretch your legs and give your eyes a break from your screen or book. And take a proper lunch break to go for a walk or jog, or even to fit in a quick gym session (students can often get great deals on gym membership).
A great way to take a break from studying.
Avoid vending machines and greasy canteen food
Two features common to both college buildings and offices are vending machines and canteens. Both are best avoided. Vending machines are not only pricey compared to grocery stores, they typically only sell high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt products. Chocolate bars, bags of crisps and sugary drinks are common. If you find yourself scoffing a mars bar or two from the vending machine every day, try leaving all your cash at home.
Canteens can be highly variable, and some do serve healthier ranges like wholegrain sandwiches, low-fat entrees and salad bar options. The danger is that the plates of greasy fries and the slabs of oily pizza will prove more tempting (until you eat them, that is, at which point you realise they’re disgusting). Take your own sandwiches to work or college: you’ll save a lot of money, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating, and it’ll probably be better-quality food.
Stay active at the weekends
The final danger for college students and office workers comes once the week is over. Saturdays and Sundays may involve some study if you’re in college, but you’re unlikely to have classes. This can mean barely leaving your dorm room all weekend – hardly conductive to staying fit. Office workers, tired out from a long week, may feel that the last thing they want to do is to hit the gym on a Saturday.
Rather than forcing yourself to do exercise that feels like a chore, try planning something that’s both active and social. If you’re a student, you might want to arrange a Frisbee game or boating trip with friends; office workers could take their partner and kids to the park to play ball or fly kites. Weekend social events can easily end up revolving around too much food and alcohol, and introducing an active element is a great way to minimise the possibilities for over-indulgence.
Image by brophy_prep
Like it or not, we’re all busy people. Some of us make time for exercise, and some of us don’t. These two quotes have stuck in my mind, and I think they’re a good reminder for anyone who’s ever said “I can’t find time to exercise.”
“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
– Edward Stanley
You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
– Charles Buxton
About the author:
Ali blogs about “healthy living for busy people” at www.theofficediet.com and “getting the most out of your time at uni” at the newly-launched www.alphastudent.com. She lost 50lbs during her late teens and college years, stayed fit during two years in an office job, and is now keeping fit and healthy as a grad student and freelancer.
Cover image by Mobile Fitness Software