Get Active at the Office
A recent study shows that the average British office worker spends more than 2 months of the year slumped at their office chair! With just under a third of workers taking a lunch break and 95% saying they don’t see any sunlight in the winter months, it’s not surprising that working long hours leads to a sedentary lifestyle!
Inactivity and leading a sedentary lifestyle can not only double your risk of many Chronic illnesses such as Cardiovascular disease, Stroke, Cancer and Type 2 Diabetes, but it can also impact your Mental Health and Well-being and can create many Postural problems.
Being more active during the day can massively improve your Health, Happiness AND make you more alert and productive at work.
So, if you are one of those who sit at a desk all day, here’s some tips to try.
Are you sitting Comfortably?
Making sure your desk, chair, monitor and telephone are all set up correctly. Your back should be supported, your feet should rest on the floor and your arms horizontal whilst typing. Sit upright and try not to slump.
Keep Active during the day
At least every hour, try to get up and move away from your desk – even if its just to go to the loo or make a drink.
Take a lunch break
Even a 20-minute break outside in the fresh air will give you a mental boost and you’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed re-energised and more productive.
Make the Most of your Commute to work
If you know you are going to be completely inactive during office hours, make your journey to and from work as active as possible. Walk or cycle to work, park further away or get off the bus a couple of stops earlier so you at least get some of your daily steps in.
Get your colleagues on board
Set up a team challenge, get a lunchtime walking group together or arrange to go to the gym before or after work. Being part of a like-minded group of co-workers can really motivate you all to keep active.
It’s not just employees that can benefit, a Healthy workforce makes Happier workers, which will not only be more alert, productive and increase staff morale, but will be less likely to have time off due to illness. So, get the bosses on board too!
Hormones – They’ve got a lot to answer for!
No, it’s not an excuse, but it is a very valid reason for why things can go terribly wrong in your Fitness programme if you don’t understand how your hormones are affecting your training.
Our hormones don’t stop and start. They are constantly flowing through our bodies at fluctuating levels throughout the month and this can mean constant changes to how you feel emotionally and physically during your menstrual cycle.
There’s the ‘Good Weeks’ – When you’re full of energy, your skins glowing and your libido is boosted (make the most of it!)
Then there’s the ‘Bad Weeks’ – When you seriously can’t be bothered to do anything you don’t have to; you feel like a fat pig and you could eat everything in sight!
It’s not surprising that these constant changes in hormone levels mess up our fitness goals!
Our changing hormone levels throughout the month can really affect your ability to exercise and knowing how your menstrual cycle influences your workouts can be really helpful – e.g. If you’re able to push your workout or if you should just go for an easier option. We’ve all been there – frustrated at not running our fastest 5K, not lifting our heaviest squat weight, or just not having the energy for our usual workout. It’s frustrating!
‘Time of the month’ is not a reason NOT to exercise (I remember forging letters from my mum to excuse me from PE because I had my period!). You just need to plan a workout to suit your hormones.
Although everyone’s menstrual cycle is different, here’s a guide to what’s happening during your cycle and which type of exercise is more beneficial at each stage.
‘I’ve just started so I’ll watch a Netflix series and eat pizza’
There’s actually no medical reason why you shouldn’t be able to exercise during your period. In fact, it can be beneficial and for many women it can help ease the symptoms of PMS due to endorphins (which are the body’s natural painkillers) released during exercise. It might be the last thing you feel like doing and you might not reach a PB during this time, but you’ll probably feel better for it.
‘Woohoo I’ve finished!’
After your period your oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels start to increase which is when your energy and motivation rises, so now is the perfect time to use that energy for your most intense workouts. Testosterone (usually associated with men) affects women too and while its in high levels you can really use it to increase your strength training capabilities. So now is the time to go for your deadlift PB!
And just when you’re back on a roll….
On around day 14 of your cycle (usually when your workouts are back on top form) – you ovulate – and this rapidly decreases your Oestrogen levels! You probably feel more tired and workouts become a huge effort again. However, at this stage of your cycle, your lungs function better, so it’s the perfect time to progress your cardio workouts! And according to research, women tend to burn more calories during this phase too – so fuel up!
If you’re going to have a rest week, then this is the time.
At some point this week your body will begin preparing itself for your next period. Tummy ache, fluid retention and your mood turning slightly psycho! Your body temperature rises which might cause you to sweat more during exercise. If you don’t feel like an energetic workout, this is the week to focus on stretching and Yoga is the perfect workout. Your training may not be at its best, but just give yourself a break – your body probably won’t thank you for pushing it to the max this week.
It really is worth Listening to your body and trying to work with your cycle, not against it and by doing this, you may find you don’t lose the plot completely while your hormone levels are constantly changing.
Taking your Workouts Outdoors
Fresh air, open space and (if you’re lucky) sunshine! What’s not to love about outdoor training during the Summer season!
As the weather warms up, if you’ve been training indoors throughout the winter months, the Outdoors provides the welcome change of new surroundings, new visual stimulation and adds a fresh new approach to your training sessions.
You’ve certainly got a few different challenges training outdoors – ever changing weather, variable ground conditions, avoiding dogs running around the park! but you’ve also got the opportunity to get creative with your sessions and add in different elements that are much more suited for the outdoors – even walking and running are far more interesting and challenging outside than on a treadmill.
Many of my clients welcome the change to training outside as a new challenge to their usual indoor sessions and they appreciate the change of scenery too – training in the park rather than inside at home or in the same 4 walls of the gym. I personally benefit from it too. Being someone who loves the sunshine, it’s a lot nicer way to train clients being outdoors than it is being stuck in a gym all day!
However, taking your workouts outdoors, you’ve got to consider:
Weather – If wet or recently raining, the ground and park equipment may be slippery. Stick to exercising on areas you know are pretty much slip proof and avoid the grass. Also, direct sunlight can make it too hot for training so try to find a tree covered space.
Hydration – Especially important when the temperatures rise, carry an extra water bottle, as its easy to underestimate how much you’ll need.
Depending on where you’re training outdoors, many parks now have Outdoor gym areas – some equipment is great, some not so great, but nearly all have benches and playground equipment that can be utilised without having to lug around your weights.
Benches – Great for Step ups, Press ups, Dips, Single Leg Squats and Lunges, Mountain Climbers, Seated abdominals etc.
Trees – Great to use as marker points and for use with TRX and Resistance bands.
Playground Equipment – Climbing bars for pull ups, rows, hanging knee raises or just climbing up.
Swings – Great for challenging balance on otherwise static exercises such as single leg squats, Press-ups and Planks.
Make use of the differing ground conditions too – steps, hills, bridges, grass and pathways all provide new training challenges.
Or just take your usual workout session outdoors and enjoy the change of scenery!
Excuses not to Exercise
When it comes to exercise, if just the thought if it has you thinking of any excuse to get out of it, you’re not alone. Many reasons for putting off exercise are completely legitimate, however finding ways to overcome these barriers is a starting point.
#1 You’re too busy at work
These days, everyone seems to have a hectic lifestyle. The solution to this is PLANNING. If an hour at the gym is out of the question you might still find that a 20-minute brisk walk to or from work or on your lunch break is do-able. It doesn’t have to be all in one go – break it up during the day
#2 You have family responsibilities
When family takes priority, try to build exercise into your everyday parenting duties or weekend family time (e.g. walking with the pram, playing in the park, swimming or going for a family bike ride).
If you really can’t fit in a workout around the kids, re-assess your daily routine. Could you get up half an hour to fit in a workout? Or take some me-time when your partner gets in from work? Or when the kids are in bed? A 15-minute workout is just 1% of your day!
#3 You’re confused about what you should be doing
You might not have a clue where to start or what’s the best exercise for your goals. Look online, read up, ask a professional or hire a Personal Trainer – even just a couple of sessions can educate you, motivate you and put you on the right track with a suitable programme of exercise.
#4 You don’t like the Gym
It’s a common problem (which is why many of my clients hire me as they can train at home) But it’s worth trying a few out, or going to a few different non-gym-based classes as there may be one you feel comfortable attending. Failing that, you really don’t need to go to a gym or class to exercise – you can do it at home!
#5 It’s too expensive
Activities such as walking or running outdoors, or doing a home workout are all free!
#6 The Weather
You can’t control the weather, but you can keep an eye on the forecast and plan accordingly. You may need to reschedule your workout (e.g. an early-morning run to beat the heat) or even change the outdoor workout you’d planned for an indoor activity.
And there’s more…….
I’m too tired Workout early, get better sleep.
It’s too hard If it was easy everyone would be doing it! Build it up gradually.
I’m too old Being fit and healthy is beneficial whatever age you are.
I’m too unfit Everybody has to start somewhere – do what you can and gradually progress from there.
It’s boring Keep trying out different activities until you find something you enjoy.
I’ve just done my Nails Now this is the worse excuse EVER!
Remember, you can either have EXCUSES or RESULTS, unfortunately not both!
But if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way……