It’s a common refrain for busy professionals: You’d love to exercise more, but between your hectic work schedule and busy life at home, there just isn’t enough time.
Well, here is an opportunity for you to make time. Rewarding yourself with a few minutes of walking or exercise throughout the work day will not only help your physical health, but it can also help clear your mind and make you more productive overall.
It may seem impossible to squeeze time for exercise into a busy day, but here are five reasons why you should, along with some ideas for how you can motivate yourself to get moving.
Reasons to Exercise
Everybody knows that physical activity is healthy, but what are the actual benefits? There are many, but here are five really good ones:
It improves your mood:
Even on the best of days, it’s tough to make it through a workday with a smile on your face the whole time. However, a 15- or 30-minute walk is enough physical activity to stimulate chemicals in your brain that can make you feel relaxed and happier. A short walk can also help you feel better about yourself in general, boosting your overall mood.
It increases your energy:
A short walk takes energy, but it can also boost your energy in the long run. The American Center for Exercise explains how regular exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue, which can help productivity during work.
It prevents diseases:
Walking for a half hour each weekday can work wonders. Getting at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity reduces your risk of a number of ailments, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even colon and breast cancer.
It helps to control your weight:
About 75 percent of U.S. adults are obese or overweight, which can of course lead to all sorts of other issues, such as hypertension or stroke. Regular exercise helps you keep your weight down, which in turn can help prevent things such as sleep apnea and infertility.
It strengthens your core:
Walking with proper technique will improve the strongest part of your body — your core. This will also help you improve your physical balance, not to mention balance in other areas of your life.
How to Get Going
Yes, walking or exercising for at least 30 minutes each day looks good on paper, but how are you going to actually get that done during a busy workday? Here are some tips:
Break it up: Don’t feel like you have to commit to one 30-minute block of exercise. For example, taking three 10-minute walks throughout the day can be just as effective in the long run, while also providing a welcome trio of breaks.
Reward yourself: Set work goals and reward yourself with a break for physical activity. For example, set a number of emails to return or phone calls to make, and when you hit your goal, take a quick five- or 10-minute break to walk or exercise.
Drive less: Try to park your car once in the morning and leave it there. Then, commit to walking throughout the rest of the day when possible, whether it’s to pick up lunch or coffee or attend an offsite meeting.
Make it part of your commute: It may not always be practical, but if the weather is nice, consider parking a few blocks away from work to guarantee yourself some walking time before and after work.
Work walking into your meetings: This can mean either actually having a meeting while you and your colleagues walk, or setting up the meeting at a location that’s within walking distance.
It can certainly be hard to convince yourself that taking a few minutes away from work will actually make you more productive in the long run, but it’s true. The physical and mental benefits of incorporating a few minutes of physical activity into your workday is always a better option than sitting at your desk through lunch.
Once you get yourself into a daily routine or rhythm, your physical and mental health will benefit — as will your productivity and performance.
By Sarah Landrum