There’s Always Time For HealthMarch 6, 2017
The term “time-starved” has never been a more appropriate description for today’s fast-moving society. Just take a good look around you the next time you find yourself in downtown Singapore on a weekday. Practically everywhere you turn, you will be greeted with office workers scuttling in all directions, rushing from one place to another with no indication of slowing down.
Which is why it’s hardly surprising to hear this line whenever we talk about regular exercise: “I have no time!”
A healthy diet, on the other hand, appears to be increasingly accessible to busy professionals. The proliferation of salad bars in the CBD, for instance, has made it easier for people to adopt healthy eating practices. Not to mention, the availability of ordering healthy meals via food delivery apps means they also have the option of eating clean and lean at their convenience – anytime, anywhere.
The same can’t be said for exercise. With work and personal commitments taking priority, it can be a struggle for some of us to incorporate exercise into our busy schedules.
The problem with leading a sedentary lifestyle – even if you had incorporated a healthy diet into your daily life – is that it can contribute to a myriad health problems. A 2015 survey from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information found that 95 percent of office workers in Singapore sit for prolonged hours at work, and a worrying 67 percent of them did not know about the health risks that come with prolonged sitting.
For the uninitiated, a sedentary lifestyle has been known to increase the risk of health problems, including colon and breast cancer, diabetes, dementia, stroke, heart attack, and more.
As clichéd as this may sound, your health is and should be your top priority. Imagine this: Would you rather be physically unfit to the point of having to depend on a caregiver in your later years, or would you rather have an able body and live a full life into old age? One fact that deserves constant reminding is that exercise is integral to a healthy lifestyle. By leading a healthy lifestyle, it lends to an infinitely richer life.
Now, with that big-picture intention in mind, read on for a few tips on how to sneak regular exercise into your packed schedule.
Find a workout partner/group
Especially for busy professionals like yourselves who already find it a challenge to exercise regularly, it can be all too tempting to weasel your way out of a workout commitment with self-talk like, “I can use the time to finish my report instead,” or, “I’m bushed. I’ll exercise tomorrow.”
With a workout buddy or group, you can take turns egging each other on for when anyone of you are feeling unmotivated to work out. At the same time, you would be less likely to skip an exercise since you wouldn’t want to let your workout buddy down by bailing on him or her!
Plus, working out with friends also keeps you socially engaged, which not only makes exercising more enjoyable but also promotes endorphin release, giving you that feel-good energy boost.
Mix it up
Sticking to just one type of workout – for example, running – can only sustain your interest in exercising for a short time before you start getting bored or notice your fitness level has reached a stalemate.
Bust out of the plateau by adding variety to your fitness routine. Instead of only jogging, incorporate other exercises into your week such as swimming, cycling, or joining various gym classes. Furthermore, thanks to fitness apps that offer multi-activity memberships at different gyms island wide, shaking up your fitness routine has gotten much more accessible and convenient as you are afforded the option of choosing gyms near your workplace.
Or, if you have deep pockets and would like to make a stronger commitment to fitness, consider engaging a personal trainer. Apart from coming up with varied exercises every session, a personal trainer pushes your limits so you get the most of each workout while keeping an eye on your form.
Prefer an activity that is free? Easy; try nature walks and hiking! Studies have shown that being close to nature reaps several benefits, such as lowering stress levels as well as improving mental health and well-being. Check out the recently opened Chestnut Nature Park. It’s Singapore’s largest nature park – bigger than 110 soccer fields combined! – and offers separate trails for biking and hiking.
Fitness is everywhere
For times when you are particularly busy at work, you can still incorporate fitness into your daily life without feeling like you are “losing” precious time.
As a matter of fact, because working out stimulates the release of certain feel-good hormones and chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine, you will feel less sluggish and more refreshed at work, which in turn makes you a more productive worker.
There are a myriad ways to get more active: Set your alarm clock just 20 minutes earlier to do a HIIT workout every morning (there are plenty of instructional videos available on YouTube); give yourself – and your eyes – a break from your computer screen by taking a 10-minute brisk walk around your office building; switch your office chair for an exercise ball (if your workplace allows); alight one bus-stop earlier to walk to your workplace/home; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk to a restroom furthest away from your workstation. When you have the will to take charge of your health, the possibilities are truly endless!