October 15, 2019. By Kevin Donohue

Throughout the week we are often so focused on our daily grind and furthering ourselves professionally that we sometimes do not think about taking care of our bodies. As a result of this busy lifestyle, health takes a back seat. Between rushing to and from the office, meetings, and balancing a social life, when is there even time for healthy habits when working a typical 9-5 job? An argument could be made stating that there is simply not enough time, so it is important that we make a sincere effort to treat health and wellness as a priority. It is difficult to start a new habits or exercises, and can be even more difficult to maintain them, but if you work healthy habits into your daily routine you will quickly begin to see the benefits.

Here are some tips for you to stay healthy while working on the 9-5 schedule:

Exercise: With schedules increasingly compressed when are we supposed to go to the gym? For working professionals time is the greatest commodity, so it is important to allocate it according to what is truly best for your health. Aside from physical fitness, there are many mental benefits of exercise, including enhanced memory and concentration, that are key to the success of professionals. Put time on your calendar, even if it is 20 minutes, a couple times a week to work out. Find a gym close to home so you can get in a workout before the morning commute and on the weekends. What about a gym close to the office? Bring exercise clothes to work and head straight to the gym after work, and who knows maybe some of that traffic will clear up by the time you leave. Don’t have to motivation or determination on your own? Many gym memberships include group classes from yoga to strength training with trained professionals who make your workouts challenging and fun! If workout classes and the gym atmosphere are not your thing, try joining an organized sports league, taking on volunteer work that has a physical element, or finding interesting walking paths along your commute. In addition to being flexibly scheduled, these options are also typically inexpensive or free of charge.

Start the Day Right: We have been consistently told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but still many of us (including myself) fail to eat a nutritious breakfast each morning. A healthy breakfast provides our bodies with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to help energize and keep us focused throughout the day. It would be nice if every morning we had enough time to prepare a delicious vegetable omelet, complete with whole-grain toast, fresh-cut fruit and cold-pressed juice, but the majority of people who commute to work have little or no time in the morning for such luxuries and end up at a drive-thru. Sub out that salty breakfast sandwich with a homemade smoothie or overnight oatmeal and you save some calories and some cash! Greek yogurt with fruit or nuts is also an easy a.m. meal.

Stay Hydrated: I know coffee is the beverage that fuels most offices, but the body and the mind need water to stay healthy. On average we are supposed to be drinking about a gallon of water each day, yet most people do not even drink half that amount with regularity. If you find this to be your challenge, try bringing in your own water bottle to work- keep it full and bring it with you EVERYWHERE. You will be amazed by how much water you will consume when you have your water bottle by your side. Meetings, lunch breaks, or even coffee runs, bring your water bottle with you and take small sips. Over time you will see and feel the benefits, including a boost in your energy level- a huge perk for any professional.

Get Out of Your Chair: There are many studies out there showing the negative side effects of sitting in an office chair for eight hours a day, and some of them are pretty alarming. The book Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World shares that sitting can wreak havoc on your health, and not just in the form of minor aches and pains. Considering how much sitting is done throughout the day outside of work (driving, eating, searching the web, watching television, at sporting and school events) adding 8 hours of sitting at work is a recipe for health risks. Try to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day and introduce short movement breaks every 20-30 minutes. With this new regime you should see an increase in energy and a decrease in back pain. Take advantage of your longer scheduled breaks by taking your movement breaks outside of the office. A short walk around the neighborhood on your lunch break, taking the stairs, or (when possible) walking to work are all great ways to sneak in a little exercise during the day. To make it a little more fun, introduce an element of competition with co-workers and track your steps throughout the month to see who moves around the most.

Incorporating even a selection of the above habits could greatly increase your productivity and overall mood.  Additionally, from a financial standpoint, regular exercise can help reduce medical expenses as well, with just 30 minutes of walking five days a week saving individuals an estimated $2,500 a year according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.  As we tend to say, health is wealth, and we hope you are able to take moments throughout the day to appreciate yours.