Tricks for Staying Fit at Work

Jan. 9, 2006 — -- Despite their best intentions for the new year, many working Americans claim to have no time to devote to exercising. We're overloaded with more and more responsibilities between work and family, leaving little free time to hit the gym. But you can stay true to your resolutions and your work with some simple steps on the job.

Ask for services.

Check with your company's health insurance provider and your benefits department this week about discounts available to employees for exercise and diet programs. Insurance and employers want you to be healthy and fit, so they often offer benefits to help you achieve those goals, even if they are not heavily advertised.

In the absence of such programs, ask your employer to sponsor your participation in Weight Watchers (or another similar program in your area) or to share in your gym expenses. You can make a case that by using such services you'll be healthier and more energized, which leads to increased productivity -- music to any manager's ear!

On the flip side, if you're a manager or employer, consider offering such perks. Many programs are highly affordable even with very small businesses.

Alter your commute.

If you take a subway or bus to work each day, don't use the stop closest to your home. Walk to one that's a few extra blocks away. Similarly, get off a stop or two earlier than you normally would and walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park in the furthest spot from the entrance, just as you're advised to do at a mall when trying to squeeze in a few extra steps.

Move it.

Don't just wait until lunch time to take a break. Get up from your desk every 20 to 30 minutes to walk around. Visit a colleague. Go refill paper in the printer. Hand-deliver an envelope instead of using inter-office mail. Use the stairwell instead of the elevator when going from floor to floor. Not only will it add steps to your routine, but you'll have the added bonus of improving networking skills.

Pack a lunch.

If you put thought into bringing your own lunch, you're less tempted to grab the double fudge brownie waiting for you in the cafeteria or at the nearby deli counter. Most home-cooked meals are also better choices than oh-so-convenient fast food. You'll save calories and money this way.

Buy time.

As soon as you feel those mid-afternoon munchies coming on, distract yourself for 10 to 15 minutes. Make a phone call or go talk to a colleague. There's a good chance the severity of the craving will decrease, and you'll come to your senses about the kind of snack you'd really enjoy without the guilt.

In my office at Women For Hire, our marketing director has a big chart posted on the wall next to her desk. It boasts more than 100 treats that won't ruin a diet. She urges everyone in the office to satisfy their cravings without overdoing it on the calories.

For example, if you're not watching carbs, enjoy a 100-calorie pack of Oreo Thin Crisps or a Reese's peanut butter cup. If you're a carb-conscious worker, keep small snack packs of almonds or pecans in your desk drawer.

Convert your cubicle into a gym.

While it might not be advisable to break a sweat in the boardroom by doing push-ups on the floor, there are some simple steps to consider such as squats adjacent to your desk or butt squeezes in your chair. Practice perfect posture while sitting and standing.

Start a movement.

One Chicago trucking company started a mid-morning routine where everyone is required to get up and dance. Depending on the nature of your workplace, consider taking the lead on implementing a 15-minute break in which hip-hop blaring from the speakers encourages everyone to throw their hands up in the air and shake their booties without any care. Since it's only 15 minutes, it doesn't have to distract from productivity. In fact, the renewed energy will only fuel it.

Grab a pal. Surely there are other people in your workplace who have similar health goals. Double-up on the drive and determination -- just as you would on any important project -- and work together to get the job done. If you can do it for spreadsheets and presentations, surely you can do it for weight loss.

Stay committed.

Just as you can't give up when a challenging project gets tough, don't allow yourself to give up on your personal goals either. Believe me when I say that I know it's easier said than done. As professionals we owe it to our employers to deliver our best, and similarly, we owe it to ourselves personally to be and feel our very best.

For more information on strategies and events for your career advancement in 2006, or to connect with Tory Johnson, visit