The widely regarded bleakest month of the year, January, is almost over. That said, if you’re like the majority of Brits, your carefully curated New Year’s resolutions ended long ago. Yep, every year with predictable regularity, it’s reported that January 12th is the date on which your pledges are most likely to be broken. But regardless of whether your month has been dry or wet, protein or plant based, lively or languid, there are still things you can do to keep control of your physical and mental health as the year really cranks into gear.
Today we’re thinking about those resolutions you – no, we all – made to get fitter. The most common reason for letting that one slide usually centres around the old work/life balance, and not having enough time. But just because you’re stuck in the office doesn’t mean you have to let your fitness suffer. We’ve teamed up with Feel Good Contacts and Personal Trainer, Badrul Islam, to bring you these; our 7 IDEAL tips for sticking to your New Year’s fitness resolutions when you’re stuck in the office.
Once you feel those fitness pledges slipping, and the urge to clock out fast at 5pm and into the arms of Netflix growing stronger, find a co-worker with similar New Year health goals so that you can support each other. Positive peer pressure is one hell of a motivator. Indeed, it’s easier to stick with your plan if a buddy is going through the same resolution and helps you to adhere to your schedule and nutritional goals.
Alternatively, suggest a fitness initiative to your management team. This would be a great way to get everyone involved and lessen any embarrassment of exercising at work. To things palatable to your seniors, you can sell them the old ‘productivity benefits’ line, to grease their capitalist cogs; they might even fund the drive for office fitness.
Start your day by walking or cycling to work. If this is simply unrealistic due to time constraints and other commitments, then get off the bus or train a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. If you have shower facilities at work and want to push yourself even harder, then why not jog to work? You could increase the stops which you alight at incrementally as you get fitter, accordingly. If you don’t have shower facilities at work, demand them. Failing that, at least try to jog part of the way home.
Not wishing to get all ‘manual handling’ on your ass – actually, your back – but you should bear in mind how you carry your bag on your daily commute. Try to spread the load equally between both sides of your body by wearing a two-strapped backpack which will allow you to maintain a neutral spine and prevent chronic gait imbalances. You could also make your walk to work even more challenging by adding extra weight to your bag so that you burn more calories.
If you’re driving, then park further away. Once you arrive at the office block, get your blood pumping by using the stairs instead of the lift. Every little helps here, it really does.
No more Meal Deals which leave you sluggish for the afternoon, oh no. Instead, bring your own healthy lunch into work. Meal planning and next day lunch prep is a great way to control your consumption and saves you money, too, as you won’t be resorting to the quickest, most expensive, and often least healthy option when you’re in a rush.
Chicken, turkey and egg-based lunches are packed with protein and will provide you with the essential building blocks for calorie burning muscles. Fish like tuna and mackerel are cost effective sources of protein that will also increase your energy and the omega-3 will help you to maintain a sharp mind and improve your eyesight.
Remember to supplement your protein with vegetables; not only are they much cheaper than meat, but they’re full of vitamins, minerals and guilt-free calories, all perfect for chopping up into snack-size pieces to keep you going throughout the day. Fruit, protein shakes, salads and natural fibre bars are also great snacks.
Water; is there anything it can’t do? It’s one of the easiest ways to manage body weight and reduce your food consumption. To ensure that you’re consuming a sufficient amount of water, keep 2 bottles of the good stuff (1.5 – 2 litres) handy at all times, on your desk, full and ready for quaffing. This will leave you with no excuse for not drinking enough.
When full, your water bottles will also be a perfect substitute for dumbbells or weights; talk about killing two birds with one stone! Actually, don’t; you’ll annoy your colleagues with your talking or killing. And if you do need to drink something warm, then try non sugary herbal drinks, black coffee or even soup.
TURN DAILY TASKS INTO EXERCISE
Workout smarter, not harder, as they don’t say but should. Turn daily tasks into exercises. Instead of emailing or calling your colleague across the room, walk over to their desk for a face to face conversation. If you’re having a meeting, then suggest a standing meeting instead of that standard slouching one with biscuits. As well as getting you out of your chair, research shows that these types of meetings are a good way of increasing efficiency, making sure that the meeting doesn’t stretch to an hour when it can be done in half the time.
When you’re back at your desk, if it’s possible, stand up and do your work. Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting and it’s good for your back and posture. If you can’t stand and work, then at the very least stand up every 30 minutes to stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the hunched position of sitting.
We’re really on a roll here; use a towel or find an office broomstick to use for stretching. Holding the towel or broomstick with straight arms at either end, rotate back and forth over your head slowly. Doing this can help to open up your chest muscles and mobilise your back muscles. Stretching is vital for maintaining good posture, especially when working at a desk for several hours a day. It will also help to reduce back and neck pain significantly. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, then try some deskercise.
LUNCH BREAK WALKS
If you can manage to brave the cold weather, then go for a walk in your break. Use that longer lunch break for a workout; go to your local park for a power walk or run. Should you be new to the running game, then download the NHS’s Couch to 5K app, as it’s perfectly designed to ease you in gently. For a variety of exercises, look out for the communal gym equipment that’s now installed in many parks up and down the country. Failing that, you’ll often find monkey bars in the children’s playground where you can work on your pull-ups. Obviously, don’t hog them if there are kids playing who want a turn.
KEEP THAT MOTIVATION BURNING
Nimesh Shah, Marketing Director at Feel Good Contacts commented: “At Feel Good Contacts we know that if we keep ourselves healthy, we will be happier, have more energy, less sick days and are more productive. But at this time of year it can be difficult to motivate staff. So we have tried to implement simple things which do make a difference. For instance, we take it in turns to go to the local coffee shop. It’s a quick and easy way to get out of the office for some fresh air and a stretch”.
”Also, sometimes, when I have 1-1 meetings, I suggest we do this whilst walking, I find this encourages creativity and free-flowing conversation plus the added benefit of some physical activity. All staff are encouraged to wear smart but comfortable clothes and most employees come to work in a pair of trainers which comes in handy for the lunchtime power walk.”
Badrul Islam, Personal Trainer concludes: “Your health is more important than any amount of pay. So be mindful of the length of time you’re sitting. Doing so can mean a long and healthy career for years to come. In addition, prioritising a healthy sleep pattern over social activity, will increase your energy, speed up recovery and boost your productivity.”