Timely Tips for Fitting Fitness Into Your Workday

With all of the demands of modern life, it can be tough to fit in fitness. But with a little creative thinking, it’s possible — even at work.

With all of the demands of modern life, it can be tough to fit in fitness. But with a bit of creative thinking, it’s possible — even at the office. And every little bit adds up.

Modern life is busy, what with the working, parenting and Facebooking. And snacking. Those (and other) demands can make fitting in a workout more difficult than fitting into your jeans from high school. But with a little creativity, it's possible to make your everyday activities count double, according to Danielle Johnson. "For many people, the biggest obstacle to getting more exercise is time," says Johnson, a physical therapist for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. "People feel stretched between their career, child care demands and family commitments. Thinking of spending an hour extra at the gym may feel overwhelming."

But you don't have to give in to that feeling. Instead, Johnson says, you can find ways to make your everyday activities work double. "You'll still be able to reap the benefits of exercise by using small bouts of movement throughout the day," Johnson says. "Two 10-minute walks, a few sets of stairs and some five-minute intervals of bodyweight squats, lunges or push-ups can add up to big health benefits."

While Johnson offers tips for tuning up your activities at home, we thought it would be fun to re-imagine the workday with an eye toward physical fitness. So, without further ado, we offer our own take on Johnson's tips:

  • Turn chores into exercise. Does a colleague across campus or down the hall need a hard copy of a document? Take 5 (or 10) and walk it over instead of dropping it in intra-office mail. Need to shred some documents? Instead of feeding paper through a shredder, channel the Hulk and shred those babies with your bare hands. For those playing along at home, Johnson suggests gardening, mowing and mopping.
  • Find fitness opportunities with friends (or colleagues). Instead of sitting through a long meeting, take your talk on a walk. If you work remotely, stand up during phone calls. Maybe pace about a bit. Or better yet, do squats and lunges while you listen in. If you want to keep the home fires burning, Johnson suggests scheduling a tennis or bowling date instead of meeting friends for dinner, playing fetch with your dog, or starting a sports team with friends. (We think the In the Loop Loppeters has a nice ring to it.)
  • Stay curious and improve on what you're already doing. Already have a good thing going? Take it up a notch. If you and your colleagues already meet on the run (or the walk), try picking up the pace. Or turn your walking meetings into squalking meetings, where you alternate walking with squat breaks. (We like this in theory.) Johnson's at-home suggestions include trying a new sport, or signing up for a charity walk or run that supports a cause you care about.

While some of these suggestions may be a bit tongue in cheek, there's serious science behind the idea of incorporating more movement into your daily activities. "Research suggests that as little as 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity can make a big difference in your health," Johnson says. "I often equate health to putting away money for retirement. Putting away savings, even in small amounts, will add up big over time."

It all adds up. Be sure to leave us a comment below before you use the social media tools to share this story with others.