20 Minutes to a Better You:

20 Minutes to a Better You:

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How to Squeeze Exercise into a Busy Schedule

If you want to look better, feel better, live longer, and greatly reduce your chances of disease or limited mobility, all you need to do is exercise more. Sounds easy, right?  Regular exercise has been proven to help people lose weight and tone up, improve mental clarity and outlook, reduce depression, increase sex drive, be more productive, and stave off a variety of negative health conditions.  

This isn’t news, really; we all know exercise is important, but for the vast majority of Americans, we are still getting way less than we should. The Center for Disease Control reports that over 80% of Americans aren’t getting anywhere near enough daily exercise. The CDC recommends that you get 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise a week. That’s just twenty minutes a day, which really doesn’t seem like much when you consider that the CDC also reports that Americans spend an average of 5 hours a day watching TV.  

It sounds so easy! So why don’t we exercise? Many people feel overwhelmed with their lives as they are, and the thought of adding in something extra just feels like too much. Especially for busy professionals, who often give a lot of time and energy to their job, exercise just feels like a luxury that we don't have the time and energy for.  We’ve become accustomed to thinking of television or hanging out with friends as ways to recover from work, a way to unwind.  Exercise? It just sounds like more work, and who’s got time for that, especially after a long hard day.

It’s obvious that we need to start thinking about exercise differently. In the normal 24 hour grind of a workday, it might seem like working out is the most disposable thing on your to-do list, but over the course of a lifetime, not prioritizing exercise will lead to huge health problems, low energy, and a less vibrant you. It might feel worth it when the choices are a trip to the gym or that tempting pint of ice cream and binging on Netflix, but trust us- it’s not worth it! You owe yourself all the the benefits that exercise brings.  

For busy working professionals, the secret might be folding exercise into easy-to-manage bites that fit into any kind of busy schedule. Bonus: most of these you can do without really changing your life too much.  Remember, the goal is just 20 minutes a day, and that can be cumulative! So yes, that five minute walk to the coffee shop around the corner counts! Start looking at the places you spend lots of time, and figure out how to hack them for a series of short, can-do exercises over the course of a day! You’ll be up to 20 minutes (or way over!) in no time.

Four Easy Ways to Hit 20 minutes:


1. Turn your desk into a gym
There are a million easy exercises that can be done right at your desk, and you don’t need any special equipment or more than a few seconds. Think pushups and lunges, and other easy body weight exercises. Set a reminder on your computer or phone for three times a day, and take a seven minute exercise break.  If you work in a place where you’d get some serious side eye for knocking out a quick set of pushups by your desk, there are a ton of exercises you can do sneakily, and nobody will be the wiser!

  Try these sneaky exercises:
Set your palms flat on the armrests of your chair, and your feet firmly on the floor.  Slowly raise your midsection up until your butt is about four inches above the seat, keeping your stomach muscles tight. Hold for a four count, and lower back down. Repeat.

While sitting, extend one leg straight out in front of you at a ninety degree angle, keeping your stomach muscles tight. Hold, and release. Repeat with several reps on both legs.

Take the long way to the bathroom, the kitchen, or the copy machine. Or just walk around the office a couple times every couple hours.  It adds up!

2. Reimagine your lunch break
Use your lunch break as a time to take a twenty minute walk. If you have a bike trail or nice street near your office, take advantage! Get a little fresh air and see the effect it has on your mood and focus! Or just decide to walk further for lunch or coffee, miss a subway stop on purpose, or walk around the block a couple times.

3. Bring the gym to you
With all the recent studies on exercise and productivity, lots of workplaces are now encouraging working out. This might mean you get extra bonuses or breaks for signing up for a gym, or sometimes workplaces will even pay to have yoga or pilates instructor set up shop right in your office. Talk to a manager or HR and see what’s possible, or what’s already in place that you just didn’t know about!

4. Get some workplace accountability buddies
When in doubt, peer pressure yourself! Get some of your colleagues on board with walking or working out together at lunch, before, or after work. Especially if you have to stare at them all day, social accountability can be a big motivator!

Once you start looking for ways to exercise, you’ll be surprised how easily and painlessly you can hit that twenty minute mark! You’ve got everything to gain, and nothing to lose!

Youngblood Worldwide

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