As some parts of the world start an incremental return to “normal”, the prospect of maintaining routines when returning to in-office work brings mixed feelings. For many of us, the perks of teleworking have become very apparent – the lack of commute, the lack of dress attire (or at least dress pants), the cost savings of eating lunch at home, and the extra time and flexibility in many people’s days to squeeze in a longer workout.
Metrics vary, but the overall trend over the course of the pandemic has been one of increased time spent exercising for many people. Did you know that increasing evidence shows that physical activity and exercise training helps cognitive function in adults?
And yet, now, the realities of the daily commute are leaving us with the question: what happens to our fitness routines? With a little planning and a few deep breaths, it’s possible to maintain – even possibly maximize – our fitness while working that 9-5 job. A few tips to help ease the transition are below.
Keep your exercise bite-size.
You may not have time in your average workday to get in an uninterrupted 10-miler, but what you probably have time for is several small chunks of exercise. So, squeeze in 30 minutes before work, take your workout gear to the office, and head outside for 20 minutes over lunch, take a long walk after dinner, and pepper a few jogging intervals in. Even better, if your office has shower facilities or an on-site gym, run or bike your commute.
Schedule, schedule, schedule.
By Sunday evening, have your workouts in your calendar for the week ahead in as much detail as possible. Write out specifically what you want to do every day and make a point of crossing off each day’s workout once you’re done. Taking the guesswork out of what you’ll do each day eliminates one of the most common barriers to getting out the door.
Make an appointment…with yourself.
Once you have your schedule, add a specific reminder every day so, you’re less likely to skip on it. Do you blow off that check-in with your boss at 10:00 am every day? Probably not, if you want to keep your job. So, think of your exercise as another commitment you cannot shirk.
Reign your expectations in.
The reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day, and sleep is something you cannot skimp on. So, on the days you must commute to the office, work on acceptance. If you play your cards right, you should still be able to get a workout in on those days, but it likely won’t be as long as you’ve become used to. And that’s ok. Just be sure to remind yourself of that regularly and make a commitment to taking extra advantage of the days you still work from home.
Make a friend!
We know that accountability is integral in keeping up with our fitness routines. Without as much flexibility in our schedules, it’s harder to convince ourselves to exercise after a long day in the office. But if you are meeting someone there, the pressure is on. Need an extra level of accountability? Create a shared calendar, and take turns posting daily/weekly workouts for yourselves, including the time, duration, etc. You won’t want to let your accountability partner down, and knowing that there’s a shared “appointment” will keep you honest.
Sign up for a race!
Another part of the return to normal (ish) life is that many races are in-person again. So, find a race that motivates you and you’ll be more likely to stick with your routine if you’ve got an event on the calendar.
Ultimately, if you try all of this and still find yourself struggling to adapt to being back in the office, it may be worth talking to your manager. The pandemic has led many companies to adopt more flexible work schedules, and employee wellness – particularly mental health – is being given higher priority across the board. So, if your job allows for less rigid schedules, you might be surprised at what your employer is willing to do to help keep you happy. After all, a happy worker is a more productive worker.
By Kate Marden