I spent the majority of my early adult life being entirely sedentary, battling with the extreme guilt I felt for not being more athletic and always resorting to using my laptop instead of my legs.
Of course having a job that required I be connected to the internet 30+ hours a week was a great excuse – how could I be active when my livelihood required that I be the opposite?
While I may have accepted this “reality” on the surface, I knew that I would feel better and be more productive if I actually took the time to fit in exercise — maybe not a full hour every day, but a little bit here and there.
Time was something I did have – and yes, most of us do – but the reality was that I had never tried to commit my time to something like exercise. I was content simply talking about how I was too busy to work out, then spending my nights watching TV or browsing the internet.
I finally reached the point where I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by simply committing to taking small steps towards a more active lifestyle.
That was five months ago. Since that time, I’ve managed to create a routine that fits in with, and actually enhances, my working hours. My goal was not to lose weight, but to feel more alive and in tune with my body – two monumental changes I have already experienced.
You may think work is a good excuse to skip the exercise, but that mindset is likely holding you back from looking and feeling your best.
Here are four ways you can incorporate movement into your busy lifestyle:
1. Stand up or use a balance ball
There are plenty of exercises you can do while at the office, but if you want to burn calories while still staying focused on your work, try standing up.
It may feel unnatural and awkward at first, but studies have shown that there is a “physiology of inactivity” that pushes your body to react negatively to long periods of sitting — even when it is pared with exercise earlier or later in the day.
If you are performing a task that requires you be seated, balance balls can improve your posture, strengthen your abs and back and, more importantly, get your body moving without much extra thought or effort on your part.
2. Combine relaxation with exercise
One of the things I struggled with while starting my exercise practice was finding the motivation to workout on the days when work left me exhausted. All I really wanted to do was relax, so I knew I needed to find a way to combine the two.
For me, that meant turning to yoga when going for a run or lifting weights were entirely unappealing. Yoga videos are widely available – even on Netflix or the On Demand channels offered by certain cable providers – and easy to do at home.
Some yoga programs offer strength training, cardio, and a relaxation/meditation session all rolled into one, so you can get in your exercise while still unwinding from the day’s stresses.
3. Time yourself and take breaks
Taking a walk, no matter how brief, can do wonders to get your blood flowing and increase your concentration. If you time yourself and continuously take breaks, even if it’s just going to the bathroom or refilling your water bottle, you will be pushed to finish tasks in a more timely manner.
You may think that you need to log a mile or two to make a difference in your body, but significant weight can be lost simply by making small changes – climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, parking farther away from the entrance to you building, jogging around the block a few times at lunch.
The little things add up – you just have to commit to taking more steps overall.
4. Stick it out for at least 66 days
Improving your lifestyle means making changes in your habits and studies show that it takes at least 66 days to fully adapt to new habits. So don’t get discouraged when day 30 rolls around and you still have to push yourself to keep moving.
I began to notice around the end of month 2 that fitting exercise into my schedule didn’t feel like a chore anymore, it was just something I did – like brushing my teeth or cleaning the kitchen. That’s when you begin to notice that the time is there, it’s simply a matter of deciding how you want to spend it, turning that into a habit and letting everything else fall where it may.