Exercising for the right amount of time: how much is enough and how much is too much?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people need to partake in both aerobics and strength training to improve their health.
The CDC says that there are basically three options to fulfill how much aerobic and strength activity needed every week. People can get 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity, like brisk walking, along with two or more days of muscle strength activities that work all major muscle groups.
Another option is doing 75 minutes of vigorous to intense aerobic activity like jogging or running, and strength training on the major muscle groups two or more days.
Finally, there’s an option of a mix of moderate and vigorous or intense aerobic activity to go along with muscle strength training two or more days a week.
To put this into perspective, you need to hit the gym for strength training at least twice a week and add in about 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week or 25 minutes of running three days a week.
If finding 30 minutes dedicated to walking is hard to do, remember that it’s OK to break up the workout into 10 minute increments at a time, as long as you’re working moderately to vigorously for at least 10 minutes or so.
Aside from finding the time to workout, you have to find the motivation, as well as a way to hold yourself accountable. Here are 10 tips on how to workout and stay healthy during the workweek.
Tip #1 - Take a break & move around
Make it a point to move every 15 minutes or so. Instead of sending an email to a coworker, walk over to their desk to discuss something. Don’t feel guilty about walking to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.
Use a small cup for water so you’ll have to get up to refill the cup more often. This sounds as if you’re going to be less efficient work-wise, but really it’ll give you a few quick breaks to move your body. Surprisingly, studies show that taking regular breaks actually makes you more productive, not less.
An exellent program that a lot of offices and self-employed individuals are adapting is the Pomodoro technique. Essentially, you set a timer and focus on only one task for the entire 20 minutes. At the end of that 20 minutes, get up a take about a 5 minute break.
Tip #2 - Find ways to make yourself walk more
Rather than taking the elevator to the 15th floor, pull on some tennis shoes and hike your way there before slipping on your heels and walking into your office. Park at the far end of the parking lot rather than driving around looking for a spot near the front.
Make multiple trips when walking into the office or home instead of trying to carry all of your stuff inside in one trip. These steps add up and can help you to stay in shape even on days you have to skip the elliptical.
Tip #3 - Wake up earlier to get in your workout
Hitting the snooze button feels good in the moment, but after spending eight or more hours at work, hitting the gym doesn’t sound fun and you’ll wish you’d already got it over with. Waking up and getting a workout in first thing will keep you from making excuses later on.
Plus, if your afternoon schedule varies because of activities or work, you’ll be able to make a routine in the morning that you know you’ll stick with.
Tip #4 - Bike to work
Depending on where you live in Colorado Springs, biking or walking to work is probably a possibility. Fill up your water bottle, strap on your tennis shoes, neatly fold some workwear into a backpack and exercise as part of your morning commute!
Many offices offer incentives for biking to work and even have bike racks in-office. Even a small change in your commute can be considered exercise.
If you take the bus to work, get off one stop earlier than your usual and walk the extra distance in. Just don’t forget to pack deodorant and a hairbrush to get rid of the helmet hair and to freshen up before meeting with clients.
Tip #5 - Join a challenge group
If motivation is more of an issue for you, consider being a part of a step challenge group. Wear a pedometer or heart rate monitor to keep track of your steps and activity each day. Then challenge friends or coworkers to do the same.
Make a weekly goal of steps and then see who hits the goal first or who gets the most steps. Sometimes, competition can be a great motivator. Even if you know you won’t win, you’ll do your best to not have the lowest step count.
Soon enough, the extra steps you take for the challenge will become habit.
Tip #6 - Schedule your workouts
Schedule your workouts like meetings or dates and it will be hard to skip. When time is tight, it’s easy to say you’ll try to fit in the gym after work or if you get off work early enough you’ll go to yoga, but when the time comes you stay late at work and miss the class or the gym closes before you can get there.
Instead of hoping you’ll make it to the gym, write it in your planner or on your smartphone as a meeting. You wouldn’t skip a meeting with your boss or an important client, so think of this as a meeting with your help.
This will keep you from making other plans during your projected workout time. Remember that your health should be just as much of a priority as a meeting.
Tip #7 - Try out "deskercise"
This one sounds wild but stay with me. Exercising at your desk without looking like a crazy person is possible. A quick Google search of “exercises at your desk” brings up plenty of ideas you can do at your desk to strengthen your muscles while still getting work done. Five minutes before your conference call isn’t enough time to start a new project, but it is enough time to do a few quick strengthening exercises.
Tip #8 - Try out a walking or standing desk
Walking desks are becoming more popular, and many companies see the advantages of investing in employees’ health. If your company doesn’t have one, it never hurts to talk to HR about buying a shared walking desk.
Even if you only get it for 30 minutes, twice a week, that’s two more days of exercise that you can check off. If your office isn’t open to buying a walking desk, consider modifying your desk to be a standing desk to keep your blood flowing and to burn extra calories.
Tip #9 - Find a co-worker exercise buddy
Sometimes exercising is easier with a friend, so consider creating a lunchtime or after work fitness club with coworkers. If your work buddy promised you to go for a walk during lunch, you’re less likely to back out. Use friends or groups as accountability to get the workout in.
Tip #10 - Stay hydrated
Finally, one of the most important ways to stay healthy and on top of your workouts is to stay hydrated before and during workouts. While you’re sitting at your desk, make sure you always fill your cup with water.
During exercise and afterward, keep sipping water even if you aren’t thirsty. It’s easy to get dehydrated and if you haven’t had enough water you may not feel your best for a workout. Make sure you’re bringing a water bottle to your workouts.
Fitting a daily workout in during the workweek sounds difficult, but with a few tricks and tips, it’s not terribly hard to make exercise a part of your daily schedule. Your health is just as important as your job, and working out will help you with stress, fitness and productivity!