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Fitness in the workplace: Making time for exercise

By Michelle May, M.D.

I received an interesting question about fitness in the workplace from a reader:

 “I work in a fitness center but have a hard time walking away from my desk to actually exercise. Any tips to help me put it behind me for 60 minutes so I can focus on exercise and not the stuff on my desk? I’m desperate!”

GymMaking time for exercise is a common challenge–ironically, even when you work at a fitness center! But you know what they say about the shoes of the cobbler’s children…

Here are a few ideas that I had for her; I’d love to hear yours too!

  1. Most importantly, set boundaries with your boss and yourself so time for exercise becomes a
    priority. Ultimately, making the time (it won’t just appear!) to exercise makes you more productive, healthy, and cheerful. Not only are you a better employee when you exercise regularly, your health care costs are lower too.
  2. Sit on a large exercise ball at your desk. It strengthens your core while you sit and it’s easy to roll around on it for stretches and sit-ups.
  3. Ask your boss if they would consider purchasing a treadmill desk for you. I’ve seen them used very effectively in some workplaces, for example, General Mills. You can’t walk fast but at least you are moving! (Make the case to your boss that you are setting an example for other gym members!)
  4. Take 5-10 minute movement breaks; walk, strength train, stretch, etc. This will keep you energized and fresh.
  5. Come in early or work-out after work.
  6. Offer to do “quality assurance” and “customer relationship building” by trying different classes, teachers, personal trainers, and equipment. Write up short reports to provide to your boss.

What other ideas do you all have for making time to work-out at work (even if you don’t work in a gym)?


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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