Pro-Move Fitness

Do You Find Yourself Dragging At Work? Choose Exercise Over The Energy Drink

File Feb 15, 9 01 33 AM

 

Sit Squats can be done anywhere including easily at work.

 

 

Today I was taking a health assessment survey our insurance company provides for us. The assessment asks questions ranging from your current activity level to your personal level of stress to job satisfaction. This got me thinking on how these things are not stand alone, but intertwined. Our lives are not compartmentalized into different, non-related activities. Every think we do impacts everything else we do. Too often work has the greatest impact on our time and even drives our lives. When push comes to shove, exercise is always the last priority even though there is plenty of research that shows fitting in a short walk or activity breaks into the workday can lead to a happier, more productive life. To change what drives your life, I suggest listening to the research and take that short, and I mean short, activity break often during the day.

But you say you don’t have time to take activity breaks. The reality is you don’t have time not to take an activity breaks. People fear that exercising during the day will interfere with their productivity. In a study done by the University of Bristol and Leeds Metropolitan University, it was determined that on exercise days workers reported improvements in mood and performance. Performance gains happened regardless of exercise intensity and workload. (Coulson, Mc Kenna & Field 2008)

Exercise breaks during the day can also attribute to improved workplace happiness. A study of Israeli workers found that job burnout and depression were highest among those who did not exercise. Workers who were physically active reported the lowest incidences of depression and burnout. (Toker & Biron 2012)

Another benefit of exercise is better brain power. Experiencing a mental block? Research finds that physical activity is a great way to overcome that block. In a study volunteers completed memory and cognition tests before and after their respective tasks. Everyone in the exercise group experienced significantly more improvements in mental ability. (Hogan, Mata & Carstensen 2013)

So we do know walking has a wide range of benefits. Walking’s benefits range from simply improving heart health to reducing risks of death and cardio vascular disease. Researchers at Stanford University also learned that taking a walk can help clear your brain and create focus for that big presentation. (Oppezzo & Schwartz 2014) Walking had provided a significant improvement on creativity with an average creative output increase of around 60%. Walking outside gave the creativity even more of a boost. I know for me, a run allows me to formulate many ideas. I suggest bringing some type of audio recording device with you which will allow you to immediately document your creative thoughts.

A surprising side effect of all this exercising is a better paycheck. By comparing exercise habits of similar people in similar occupations, Dr. Vasilios Kosteas, PhD, chair of the economics department at Cleveland State University, in Ohio, found that those who exercised regularly yielded 6% to 10% higher income. It was noted that moderate exercise contributed to greater earning, but those who exercised the most tended to make the most. (Kosteas 2012)

It does not take a lot of exercise to see improvements in cognition, creativity and productivity. Here are a few exercise suggestions which can change your work focus and attitude.

  • Chair Squats: Start seated in a chair and stand up. Repeat movement. Do for 1 minute. Upgrade: Do regular squats.
  • Desk Push-Ups: Place your hands on your desk about shoulder width apart. Lower the body until elbows reach 90 degrees and press back up. Modification: Stand up and put your hands on a wall or the top edge of the cubicle and do the same motion. Upgrade: Perform push-ups on the floor either on the toes or knees or with the feet elevated on a chair, depending on your fitness level. Do for 1 minute.
  • Elbow Plank: Position yourself face down with elbows underneath the shoulders, rest on the knees (modified) or toes (full) and keep the trunk muscles tight. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Dips: Sit in chair, place hands on the sides of the chair and press down until the hips are elevated. Upgrade: Place body in front of chair so you can drop your hips below the seat to increase your range of motion.
  • High-Knee March: March in place, bringing knees to hip height. Do for 1 minute.
  • Plank knee tuck: Start in push-up position either on desk, top of cubicle, wall or floor. Bring one knee to either the same side elbow or the opposite side elbow. Do for 1 minute.
  • Side-step Toe Touch: Step out to the right side and reach down to touch the right foot with the left hand. Be sure to bend at the knee and hip. Repeat with other leg. If mobility is an issue, reach for the knee or thigh instead of the foot. Do for 1 minute.
  • Hamstring Curl: In a standing position, bend the knee and bring the heel toward the same-side glute. Return the foot to the floor and perform on the other side. Do for 1 minute.
Performing one of these exercises for one minute every half hour will accrue 16 minutes of exercise during the day. Research shows that exercise does not have to happen all at once to be beneficial.
If you have 4 minutes perform the exercise Tabata™-Style. To do that, set a timer for 4 minutes. Perform the exercise for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. Continue until you have completed the exercise 8 times which will be 4 minutes. You can also do the Tabata™ by creating a circuit of any of the listed exercises.
By integrating these simple exercises into your work day, research shows you will improve your job performance, improve your workplace happiness, increase creativity and possibly make more money.
Halvorson, Paul. “The Office Worker’s Workout.” IDEA Fitness Journal Feb. 2016: 26-29. Print.

 

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Post Marathon Depression

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This past summer I had the opportunity to be an assistant coach for a group of people who were training for the Fox Cities Full and Half Marathon. They were a highly motivated and fun group. With the exception of a few injuries that were not able to be overcome, most of our runners met their goals.

Shortly after the event, we received a message from one of our participants who said she was having trouble getting motivated to run again. She was concerned there was something wrong with her. Having run many marathons and feeling this many times, I knew what she was talking about. In fact, I am currently having these feelings again as I finish my last month of training for my Karate Black Belt.

I confidently assured her this was a normal reaction. It is kind of like a depression that often happens to a person who puts a lot of effort into one culminating event. My response was simple and appreciated by this person. However, the head coach, Eddie Holzem (2:19 marathon runner), was able to poetically put our participant’s feelings into proper perspective.

Eddie said it best with his response:
“Marathon blues (it’s not from running) – it’s the result of all the work and focus of many months’ worth of physical training and emotional investment – then the next day it’s all over. Kind of depressing. Trying to force a rebound is a mistake too many people make. It takes the bad days to make us really appreciate the good. You are the first person in my 4 years of leading this group to bring up this topic – I am very proud of you because this reveals to me just how invested you were in the achievement of your goals. How lucky you are as an athlete to be able to experience the highs of great training days, the struggles of competition and the emotional depth of what it means to have poured yourself into the journey. It may not seem like it, but this is the reason why people come back for more – you have truly given yourself a gift. This is what it’s all about!”

Basically preparing for a marathon is a major life event. You invest months of time and energy into this one day which is full of pomp and circumstance. However this investment isn’t only of time and energy but also of emotion, which becomes magnified with every obstacle you have to overcome, and typically there will be obstacles. You put a lot into the event. You visualize race day. Race morning of is full of nervous excitement and anticipation. You run the event. You may struggle and hurt but you overcome and cross the finish line. Then all of this comes to an abrupt end. Your schedule is now normal again, but you feel something is missing.

As Eddie said, “You pour yourself into the journey. It may not seem like it, but this is the reason why people come back for more-you have truly given yourself a gift. This is what it’s all about!”

Why Does That First Mile Feel So Difficult; The Importance Of The Warm-Up Before Doing A Cardio Workout.

imageAs a personal trainer and coach, one of the questions I am asked is; why does that first mile feel so uncomfortable? The same question is asked by people doing 1/4 mile interval track workouts or any track workout for that matter. In fact this phenomenon is experienced when participating in any cardio activity.

The reason this happens is because of something called steady state. When you are sitting, your heart and lungs are supplying the muscles with adequate oxygen to do their job. You are in steady state. If you start walking you are taken out of steady state so your heart and lungs have to work harder to supply the muscles with the increased demand for oxygen. However, you really don’t notice it since the change of steady state is so small.

But when you start jogging, your muscles have to work significantly harder. But they don’t have enough oxygen to perform at this higher level of intensity. This puts you into oxygen debt. You go anaerobic. That is what causes the uncomfortable sensation. Your heart and lungs now have to work harder to get adequate oxygen to cover the new load. The length of time it takes to catch up depends on the intensity of the activity. Once your heart and lungs do catch up, you go aerobic again and now become more comfortable. You are at a new steady state where your heart and lungs are supplying enough oxygen to the working muscles. This is what they always called “getting your second wind.”

The warm-up is essential. By slowly increasing the physical stress on your body you gradually increase the demand for oxygen by your muscles. Your heart rate and breathing are able to adjust and supply enough oxygen to cover the increased demands of your working muscles and help prevent that uncomfortable feeling associated with the start of your cardio workout. However, the warm-up isn’t just to increase the blood flow to supply more oxygen to the working muscles. The increased blood flow also helps increase the core temperature of your working muscles and connective tissues, making them more pliable.

So what should you do? An active warm up, also called a dynamic warm up, is the key. Some suggestions include but are not limited to:

  • Walking or easy running for 5 to 10 minutes. If you are walking, throw a few easy jogs for 10 to 20 seconds every minute. This will help to kick start your cardio system.
  • Jogging or running in place.
  • Jumping jacks are great for the whole body and also will kick start your cardio system.
  • Swinging the arms for arms and shoulders.
  • Arm circles for your shoulders.
  • A few push-ups or modified push-ups for the chest, arms and shoulder.
  • Trunk twists for the core.
  • Leg swings side to side and forward and back for your hips.
  • Pretend you are stepping over a fence forward and backward for your hips.
  • High knee jogging or bringing your heals to your butt for your legs.
  • A few lunges and squats for the legs.

It is important to remember that during the warm-up the key is to keep the intensity low. If you are preparing for a running event or workout, gradually pick up the intensity or add some strides the get your body ready for the increased oxygen needs your body will require. Don’t skip the warm-up. It is as important then the workout itself.