Working a 9-5, while maintaining a home and social life, is challenging enough.
Throw in the expectation of a daily workout and you’re veering towards downright absurd. Who has time to do all that?
How is a modern, do-it-all woman… a superhero, if we’re perfectly honest here… supposed to maintain her health?
It’s not like we can add more hours to the day.
Yet, we all know something has to give.
According to Mayo Clinic cardiologist, Martha Grogan, "for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking."
It turns out this detrimental effect is more profound for women than men.
According to a new research study, spearheaded by Allard Dembe, an Ohio State University professor of health services management and policy,
women who worked an average of 60 hours or more over the three decades of the study had three times the risk of getting diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis than those who worked 40-hour weeks.
In fact, those that have dedicated their lives to the corporate lifestyle, are now facing their very own disease. “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression, and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease” (James Levine, MD, PhD).
|Infographic from JustStand.org|
I am happy to report that it is entirely possible to maintain your superhero status.
Exercise CAN be worked into your day.
Top 8 ways for busy corporate women to work fitness into their daily lives.
1. Wear a pedometer
This step tracking device is a great accountability tool and will push you to take more steps throughout the day. 10,000 steps is the distance most often recommended, which equates to almost 5 miles for a woman of average height. In reality, this is the minimum that we should all be walking each day. Use this a yardstick and strive to increase your number of steps each day. All movement helps!
2. Move every chance you can
Take the stairs, park farther away, walk to a colleague’s desk rather than sending an email. It all helps. Find little ways to incorporate more movement throughout your day.
3. Set daily goals/ challenges for yourself
Whether it’s to take 10,000 steps, make that water aerobics class after work, or complete 10 squats every time you get up to go the bathroom, setting daily goals will give you something to work towards. If you do it right, it can even make the whole “moving more” thing kind of fun. Try to beat your previous goal. Challenge yourself!
4. 10-minute exercise bouts
Recent research has shown that getting 30 minutes of exercise via 3 separate 10 minute bouts can be just as effective as one longer session. This is helpful for the woman that just can’t fit in that full 30 minute workout session after a long day. A 10 minute ride on a stationary bike in the morning, 10 minutes walking around the office building at lunch and a quick 10 minute low-impact You Tube video when you get home at the end of the day can make a huge difference.
5. Experiment, find something you love
Let’s face it: if you hate your workout, you won’t do it. You will find every excuse under the sun to come home and crawl under the blankets for a well-deserved nap. It is essential to experiment until you find something that you enjoy. It is possible to find a workout that you will look forward to. This will look different for everyone. The workout that your best friend swears by, just may not do it for you. Some may love going to barre classes, others may thrive by joining a soccer league, still others may really love the bootcamp atmosphere. Though that couch and blanket will still be appealing, finding your “fitness home” can greatly improve your overall motivation.
6. Start an office challenge
Get an accountability buddy and find other co-workers that are interested in moving more. Start a workplace challenge, it can be as simple as who takes more steps over the course of a week (fitbit has a great app for this), or create a support group in which you each take a moment to check in and see how others are doing that week. Having a support system and even a little friendly competition can be just the push you need.
7. Try an office workout
Can’t work out after work? No problem. It is entirely possible to get a great workout in throughout your workday.
Shut your office door and complete these moves from the Washington Post at your desk. They even include a rating for level of difficulty, sweatiness and humiliation factor! All of the moves can be completed in work clothes and won’t leave you dripping sweat. They will, however, get you moving and your heart rate pumping.
Even better? Complete the moves a couple times throughout the day.
I’ve had several clients enjoy setting daily office workout challenges, i.e. Monday’s challenge might be 100 squats. Every time they get up from their desk they complete 10 squats. They mark it off until they reach their goal of 100 (or whatever that day's goal might be). Tuesdays could be desk pushups, 20 second planks, or reverse lunges. You get the idea!
Extra points if you bring in a light pair of dumbbells to keep in the bottom drawer of your desk. You can do so much for your muscles and overall health if you work some light resistance work into your day.
8. Speak to your HR department about setting up a wellness program at your office
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Chronic diseases such as depression and hypertension can lead to a decline in the overall health of employees in a workplace, contribute to an increase in health-related expenses for employers and employees, and lead to lower productivity and/or days of work missed. Many businesses have realized the benefits of health promotion, and to curb the costs of rising health care offer workplace health programs to their employees.
Give a few of these strategies a try to discover what works for you and then go be the fierce superwoman that we all know you are!
Yours in wellness,