Wanting to be successful is part of human nature. It doesn’t matter if we aren’t going after the corner office or the CEO job, we all want to have an impact and to make a difference with our jobs. Society today tells us that working long hours, always being plugged in and giving everything to our jobs is the way to go.
But I don’t agree with that. In fact, I think working less, taking time and giving everything to our whole life is actually the best road to success, never mind the fact that it is a way more enjoyable journey!
I’m taking Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s Four Pillars to outline 4 different ways to success that put you and your health first. Ways that actually work better than the formula we are following now.
The other week I posted the first article in the series. If you missed it, on how relaxing and actually working less can make you better at what you do, then click here. It is an eye opening read!
I set myself some goals in that article, and I wanted to update you on how I have done. So the two goals I set are:
Otherwise, I’ve done okay on it. Not perfect by any means. I would give myself a 75%, most nights I put the phone down and didn’t pick it back up again. This is boosted because it has definitely gotten easier the second week with me not touching my phone almost every night!
Walking more has been difficult. The first week was not a success at all. I barely hit 5k steps in a day, half of the recommended 10k steps! It being the week after my sister got married, meant I was busy catching up and put myself last. So I made it a priority this week and so far so good with me taking regular walk breaks, clearing the move bar on my Garmin Forerunner when needed and walking more while on the phone. So I would give myself 50%.
MOVEMENT, EXERCISE & PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
This week I want to explore how simply moving more will make it easier for you to accomplish those great things you want to in your career.
Movement has really declined with the dawn of industrialization, and as more and more jobs require us to sit at a desk all day the less we engage in any form of movement, exercise or physical activity.
First of all I should explain how I define these.
Movement is just that, how much we move in a day and how much variety we have in those movements. So that could include walking around the house or office, bending and squatting to pick things/kids up, carrying heavy loads, gardening and cleaning. So anything that isn’t us sitting. If you are interested in learning more about movement and incorporating more of it, I highly recommend Katy Bowman – she has some great books and a podcast that is very insightful.
Exercise is devoted time that we spend on a movement activity, whether it is yoga or running, strength training or cycling. When you go for a walk for 30 minutes, I would count that as exercise.
Physical Activity is the terminology used in the scientific and medical worlds when they do research and it can encompass both movement and exercise,
So when I googled physical activity in 2018, I came across this list of stats from the American government’s Department of Health and Human Services. Here are two of the scary highlights:
· Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
· More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities (2.5 hours/week for aerobic and 2 times/week for muscle strengthening as prescribed by the CDC)
And overall movement is declining too. In North America, the average employee walks on average 5k steps/day, half of the recommended 10k steps. There is criticism of these stats too, because these are volunteers who are wearing some form of activity tracker so they may be more likely to walking more than normal. Some estimates are that most employee walk only 3k steps/day.
I think most of us have heard that sitting is the new smoking, that the research shows that the more you sit the earlier you die and the more likely you are to suffer from illness. And this includes people who exercise and who meet the minimum. So for those of us who do get our 30 minutes or even more each day, if you then sit for the rest of the day that exercise doesn’t mean much over all.
We have also outsourced a lot of our movement activities – we have cleaners, we don’t cook from scratch anymore, and we drive everywhere. In two generations this changed completely with the technology boom and while I’m glad I don’t have to wash clothes by hand, I have only replaced that movement with sedentary activities. As I’m sure most of you can agree.
Okay, enough of the depressing stats. Let’s get into why we want to move more and not for our health but for our careers. How does movement, exercise and physical activity benefit us in the workplace?
Physical Activity = Better at doing your job
If you increase your movement as well as exercise more regularly you will see a few ways in which your ability to do your job increases.
First of all, it improves your immune system. Studies show that regular exercise reduces the amount of sick leave taken which means that you will be calling in sick less! Or are you the type that powers through being sick and still shows up to work? Well you will be doing that a lot less too. This means your days will be more productive!
Moving more improves your sleep and gets your blood properly flowing throughout your body which means you will have more energy and be less likely to go through that afternoon slump.
Speaking of blood flow, exercise increases the brain’s blood flow which improves your focus and concentration, making it harder for things to distract you (goodbye constant social media checks!) and improves the quality of your work. Honestly, a 10 minute walk or stretching break a day helps, as this study as shown an improvement in memory with just 10 minutes of light exercise a day. Have time for more than 10 minutes? A study out of the UK found that individuals who exercised for 30-60 minutes a day during lunch saw a 15% boost to their overall productivity and job performance.
So you’ll be more focused and you’ll be feeling great and energized allowing you to do more with less time? Sounds almost too good to be true!
Physical Activity = Happier at doing your job
If you take yourself outside during the day, you are engaging i
n nature therapy, even if you are in an urban setting there are benefits! Did you know that 93% of our time is spent indoors? Spending just a little bit of time exercising, especially outdoors will reduce your stress.
Stress reduction is a large part of why it is recommended that you exercise. It helps lower your blood pressure and it releases endorphins (the so called runner’s high) making you feel great. Plus it gives you a break, a break from the desk or a long to do list.
You’ll get back to your desk feeling refreshed and like you can take on the world!
Physical Activity = More Opportunities
Speaking of taking on the world. Think of the last time when you really gave your all to some form of exercise, maybe it was training for a running race or falling in love with Zumba or joining a baseball team. How did it make you feel? I bet you felt pretty good about yourself!
There is a reason for that as exercise is one of the key ways a person can increase their self-confidence
And I bet those boosted feelings of confidence seeped into all areas of your life, including your career. Not only does that make you better at your job and happier at your job it also opens doors for you.
When you are feeling good about yourself, selling yourself becomes a little easier. Which means more opportunities come your way. You are thought of for those game changing projects, it is easier for you to negotiate your worth and when a promotion comes up your name will be on the list (and you will have the confidence to get it on the list even if it isn’t!).
Everyday Tips for Everyday Movement
Just like relaxing, knowing all of this information is easy. But doing something about it isn’t. Especially since the recommendations seem to be all over the place. You need to do moderate activity for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, you need to walk at least 10k steps a day, you need to do more strength training, no wait more yoga, no actually more running. It is enough to make your head spin! And I don’t know about you, but all this conflicting information makes me more likely to sit on my but all day!!
My goal is to provide some small realistic ideas to get you moving a bit more so that you see success in your career, my goal is not to encourage you to run a marathon or to compete in next year’s CrossFit games!
1. Don’t Sit for Too Long:
Keith Diaz, one of the researchers of the sitting and dying study suggests that every 30 minutes we should get up off of our chairs and move around for at least 1 minute but to ideally go for a 5 minute walk.
I love this idea because it is pretty simple. You don’t even have to leave your cubicle, just do some light stretches, pace back and forth or walk in place. So even if you are on the phone, it still something you can do.
If you are working on a written task or something that requires focus, using a Pomodoro Timer to remind you to focus for 25 minutes with a 5 minute break reward (this is a productivity hack that I’ll explore in my newsletter). During those 5 minutes you can go walk for a coffee, or walk around the office. In an 8 hour work day that is an extra 16-80 minutes of walking and movement!
2. Lunchtime Exercise
Moving more during lunch accomplishes two things – it gets you away from your desk and it gets you exercising. My husband goes for a walk every lunch break, sometimes he’ll go for a walk outside if it beautiful, sometimes he walks to do errands and sometimes he just explores the PATH. But it is something that he has committed to and he feels has made his day much more enjoyable. He finds he comes back refreshed and energized to finish off the afternoon.
When I worked in an office setting in Toronto, I used to go to GoodLife 2-3 times per week over lunch to participate in their 45 minute classes. Now? Working from home is a different beast, so I fit it in where I can as my lunch hour is always all over the place!
Again it can be anything and for any length of time. Maybe start by adding 5 minutes of walking during your lunch this week and maybe next week add another 5 minutes.
3. 10 minutes at a time
We already know that all you need to see the positive impact of memory is 10 minutes of light activity a day, so a slow walk, yoga or even Tai Chi. That sounds like an easy addition to the day. Then as that becomes a part of your life you can increase the intensity of that 10 minutes or find another 10 minute chunk in your day.
4. Find something you love
I hate strength training. I find it so boring. And whenever my exercise decreases it is usually because I’m forcing myself to strength train more. I know it is good for me so I want to add it in but if I put too much emphasis on it, I not only don’t do the strength training but I also don’t do anything else. Not good. Whereas I love cardio, especially solo cardio – running, cycling, swimming, and hiking. When I’m emphasizing movement and exercise and not putting pressure on myself to cross train, then I have no issues motivating myself to run 3-4x a week – I love putting on some music or a podcast and just going. That is my thing.
That thing is different for everyone though. For some it is dancing – Zumba or Salsa lessons. For others it is yoga or pilates. There is no shortage of activities that require us to move – rock climbing, axe throwing, dodgeball, baseball, tag with the kids, mountain biking, the list goes on and on. I encourage you to try things out, use google to see if there are any local facilities or online classes. And keep trying until you find it.
But also, sometimes things lose their luster. If you find something you love but it just eventually stops being something that excites you, don’t beat yourself up! Find something else! Don’t give up!
5. Get Sneaky
If you have kids, I’m sure you have snuck vegetables into their food as a way to get them to eat it! You know it is healthy, so you get a little sneaky.
Well, it is time to do that for yourself. There are lots are ways to do this. Think about any time you are sitting, waiting or performing a task that you can add some movement to. Let’s walk through the day and I’ll give some tips and tricks.
Brush your teeth – do some squats.
Commuting – work on your grip strength by squeezing your fist, if you are woman do some Kegels!
Waiting in Line for your coffee – do some calve raises.
In the elevator – do wall push ups (maybe save this for when you are by yourself!) or better yet take the stairs!
Meeting – do some leg lifts under the table (straighten your leg out if front of you).
Getting Water – grab a reusable water bottle and do some curls or presses with it.
Cooking Dinner – put on some fun music and have a dance party while you cook.
Tidying – get into a squat to pick things up, crawl along the floor instead of standing up.
Watch TV – get on the floor and do some stretches.
Brush your teeth – do some lunges.
I have heard and seen so many ideas. Like counter lifts, doing a few squats over a chair before sitting down, putting a pull up bar in the doorway of a room and challenge yourself to do a pull up before you go in, lunging to your kitchen for water or a snack. It really is never-ending and it encourages you to be creative!
Like with relaxing, adding movement is key for me so I want to set two goals for myself:
1. Add 10 minutes of Strength Training every day following this schedule: Monday: Arms
2. Walk 10k steps/day most days of the week by incorporating more walk breaks into my day.
Are you relaxing more, tell me what you have been doing? And what about movement – is there anything you are going to try out?
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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