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Fitting Exercise Into Your Work Schedule

written by: Deborah Walstad•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 6/15/2011

Fitness experts all agree that healthy employees have more energy, focus and stamina for a long day's work. The best way to fit exercise into a work schedule is convenience; exercising when and where you can before, after and during your work day.

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    If you have a hard time fitting exercise into your busy schedule, you're not alone. Many individuals feel burdened by a busy work life and sometimes it can be hard enough to find time to sleep, let alone exercise. Although it may be challenging to fit in, studies have shown that healthier employees have more energy, increased productivity and even a better attitude.

    Many employers support wellness programs and encourage employees to find time for exercise. To get yourself exercising on a consistent basis, you need to make it convenient by finding ways to exercise at home or outdoors, as well as before, after, and during work.

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    Health Benefits of Exercise

    Regular physical activity promotes a healthy lifestyle and eases work-life. A study done by the University of Bristol concluded, "People who exercise on work days are more productive, happier and suffer less stress than on non-gym days, scientists revealed today." Studies have also shown that exercising most of the days of the week reduces the chance of illness and death. All of these risks are lowered: heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, high blood pressure, colon cancer, depression and anxiety, obesity. It also helps strengthen bones, joints and muscles and promotes psychological well-being.

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    Finding Time to Exercise

    Many employers encourage regular fitness programs. With a little planning you can have a fitness routine that fits your work schedule and lifestyle, no matter where you work or what your hours are. Try to exercise a total of at least 30 minutes a day, either at one time or throughout the day.

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    Exercising At Home

    Some individuals find exercising at home more convenient if they have simple exercise equipment they can use without having to leave the house.

    • Wake up earlier: Exercising first thing in the morning can make a great start to your day, helping you get your body moving an alert. Try walking on a treadmill or following a fitness video.
    • Make cleaning count: Cleaning the house or yard can get your heart rate up, especially vigorous cleaning such as vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, mowing or raking the lawn.
    • Get off the couch: Exercise while you watch TV on the treadmill, exercise ball, lifting weights, aerobics, etc.
    • Play video games: Gaming has changed in a positive way with a variety of games that get you moving for the Wii, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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    Exercising At Work

    Finding ways to fit in exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle, especially if you work at a desk. There are plenty of ways to add exercise into your work breaks and even things you can do while sitting at your desk.

    • Take the stairs rather than the elevator to get some added exercise.
    • Schedule it in: Like you would put other tasks on a calendar, one of the best ways to fit exercise into a work schedule is to plan it into your day just like any other appointment.
    • Trade your office chair for an exercise ball to help improve balance and tone muscles while you sit.
    • Take a brisk walk outside on your lunch break. Consider starting a lunch time walking group for added support.
    • Exercise on the way to work by riding your bike or walking to work if possible. If you ride the bus, get off a couple blocks early. If you drive, park in the far end of the parking lot.
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    Exercising Outdoors

    When it's nice outside, the scenery can make exercising enjoyable. Or even when it's not, you can play in the snow.

    • Get the family active: Go on a family bike ride or walk around the neighborhood, play sports or outdoor games. You'll not only get in better shape, but encourage your family to have an active lifestyle.
    • Play outdoor sports: Consider joining a local sports team or play with family and friends.
    • Go on active outings: Plan a trip to a local museum, zoo or amusement park where you will get plenty of walking.
    • Play yard games: Get out your game of boccee ball, croquet or badminton for a good old fashioned activity.
    • Sledding or skiing: When it's winter time, bundle up and head outdoors to go skiing or sledding and building a snowman with the family.
    • Local exercise group: Sometimes when someone is depending on you to exercise with them, it can get you going on a day when you don't feel up to it. You can often find a group of people in your neighborhood, play group or church group that is interested in exercising together.
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    Exercising at a Gym

    A gym is a good option because you have access to a variety of physical activities in one place, but you do have to pay for membership. Sometimes a recreational center has lower fees, but their facilities may be more limited.

    • Treadmill: Most gyms have several treadmills and ellipticals available to use while watching TV.
    • Weight lifting: Strength training is important for anyone that is wanting to become more toned and fit.
    • Swimming is a great exercise for the whole body and the water can be refreshing.
    • Tennis or racket ball: Playing tennis at the gym is a great way to meet other people and have fun while being active.
    • Exercise classes: If you exercise better with a group, exercise classes at the gym can be a great support network and a way to push yourself to work harder each time.

    Achieving the ideal work life balance is difficult at the best of times, so it's no wonder regular exercise is often just good intentions. Using these tips will mean turning your intentions into a solid plan of action to get up and go!

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    Photo: Free Digital Photos