Wellness Work Series: 6 Ways to Be Active When Busy

For over 17-years of my corporate career, I was far from active. I joked around that I became a workaholic early on in my career because I procrastinated working out. My day looked something like this:

5:00 a.m. Alarm buzzed and I snoozed for another hour convincing myself I would workout over lunch.

11:30 a.m. Still believing I would exercise over lunch, I jumped on an impromptu call, which led to other work related initiatives taking priority…rightfully so. I then decided I would join a cardio class after work. I sat at my desk, ate lunch and continued with my to-do list.

6:00 p.m. I watched others start to leave and thought about running down to the gym. However, late in the day I was often in the flow and engaged. I used to enjoy working early mornings and late nights because the calming energy de-stressed me, so I continued. I sat at my desk, ate snacks and continued with my to-do list.

8:15 p.m. Tired. Long and productive day at work, so I just felt like going home promising myself I would get up at 5:00 a.m. to workout.

This vicious circle continued for years during the week. Although, I still considered myself to have healthy habits since I was active during the weekends. I filled my Saturdays and Sundays rollerblading around the Minneapolis lakes, dancing in an aerobics class at The Firm and meeting friends for a long outdoor power walks.

Years later, I now know better. Exercising here and there or just on weekends won’t cut it if we care about our health. Medical journals and media publications claim, “sitting is the new smoking” encouraging all of us to get up and be active throughout the day. Not only does research support frequent physical activity to promote wellness, it also increases productivity. Healthy employees perform daily tasks with more energy, creativity and focus.

Finding time is hard in the 21st century. Our schedules are filled, many times on professional or personal projects where we’re sitting in cars, at desks or in seats for an extended amount of time. So, as a part of our Wellness Work Series, I’ve outlined wellness tips that focus on finding or creating time to be active during a busy day.

Wellness Work Series: How to Be Active When Busy


1. Do something active upon waking up
Power walking, morning yoga routine or even a few stretches will help wake up the body. Just a few minutes of exercise provides health benefits.

2. Create a short power circuit throughout the day 
Squat when you brush your teeth. Plank before you get in the shower. Do burpees during TV commercials. Practicing these toning exercises throughout the day can add up.

3. Consider using a standing desk or exercise ball chair
When I was pregnant, my back hurt from sitting in my chair too long, so I sat on a big, red, stability ball. Upon returning after maternity leave, I kept it in my office, so used it. My body activated my core and prevented me from hunching over in a chair. Because I wasn’t so cozy in my seat, it was easier to get up and use my whiteboard or walk around. Standing desks have become more popular in the past few years, too.

4. Stand as much as possible
Stand whenever you can…during conference calls, in the back of a meeting, during commercial breaks, etc. When I’m traveling by car, I often take a break every 45 minutes and jump around at a rest-stop to get my cells moving.

5. Schedule time to exercise
A work routine often needs structure, so scheduling time in my outlook calendar for a 20-minute walk during lunch, a gym-session a few times a week or a two ten-minute breaks during the day to stretch makes me accountable. Actually organizing my time both personally and professionally helps me keep physical activity top of mind. In past years, instead of lunch meetings with colleagues, we’ve actually walked around our office building. I’ve also been known to close my door and do a few push ups. And, I’m embarrassed to mention, I actually owned a Shake Weight, too.

6. Join or create an active community
We’re all motivated when we join others and exerise. Can you catch up long distance with friends and family when you take a morning walk? Is there a special pilates/yoga/dance/boutique gym class that you join with a neighbor? Instead of catch ups over coffee, why not invite friends, colleagues and neighbors to go on a hike with you. For those with kids, I’ve also found exercising with them has dual benefits.

Any additional tips? Where and when do you find time to exercise?

Hire Caryn Sullivan to inspire your organization or team to embrace positivity and wellness for a successful work and personal life. Check out her speaking engagement information and professional bio.

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