Friday, 16 October 2015

Fitness in the Workplace : Maintaining Healthy Habits

Something I've been hearing a lot lately, in consultations with people looking for training plans or some personal training, is that they have struggled to achieve their health and fitness goals because work and life “get in the way.” 

We have quite a culture here in the UK of making work our number one priority, of being seen to be the first in and the last to leave, of skipping lunch breaks and of long hours almost being a badge of honour. This doesn't sit very well with me. Skipping meals isn't good for your blood sugar levels, affects your ability to concentrate, and can lead to poor food choices later. Long hours almost invariably means a lot of sitting, either in our cars, at our desks or indeed on the sofa at home after a hard day. But there are things you can do to achieve your health and fitness goals despite these obstacles.

I've already written about a workout you can do without even leaving your desk, tips for keeping healthy eating habits on track, and about incentives and facilities employers could provide, but what can you do if you have a hectic agenda?

First, look at your work schedule with fresh eyes. Do you have to start or finish at your usual time? Do you have to be physically present for that regular meeting or could it be done by conference call? Is it possible to delegate a few routine tasks that would free up some time? A client of mine works for an American company so often has to work late but we managed to find a time late afternoon where she could take a break and fit in a PT session. She treats it like a meeting, an appointment she must keep, and declines other meetings that colleagues may try to schedule at that time. A meeting that could be done as a conference call could give you the ability to take it in the car on the way to your gym or fitness session. Perhaps starting a little later would give you the chance to do that early morning spin class and miss the rush hour traffic on the way home... you may not lose as much time in the evening as you think!
I've said it before and I'll say it again... make use of any on-site facilities your place of work may have such as a gym, showers or outdoor space. Do a lunchtime or after-work class, go for a run, cycle or walk in your lunch break; it will help to clear the mind and can be a social activity too; things are always easier when you have the support of others so see if there are any other like minded people who are also trying to say no to the cakes and yes to moving more.

This series has mostly been about the workplace but look at your schedule outside of work hours too. Although many see exercise time as "me time", if you really are struggling for time and fear neglecting your partner or time with children, look for activities you can do together. There are lots more parent/child activities available these days and so many evening classes and clubs relating to physical activity. Again, by treating these like any other meeting or commitment, you increase the likelihood that you'll stick to them.
Think outside the box, think creatively. Get someone to help you if you struggle to see the wood for the trees. And whatever you come up with, tell someone about it. Knowing someone is expecting you to go somewhere or do something, being accountable, even if they don't accompany you, can be a powerful tool when it comes to maintaining a habit.

Have you found success despite your hectic agenda? Do you have any other hints or tips to share?

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