As busy educators and entrepreneurs, it can be hard to find the time to dedicate ourselves fully to a fitness regime. Our hours are long, hard and often tiring, so the last thing you want to do is pack up a gym bag and hit the elliptical for hours on end.
What if you could incorporate small bursts of easy to do exercises into your daily routine? Andy Fossett, the CEO and co-founder of GBA Fitness knows that it is entirely possible, “We’re an education company that happens to teach fitness,” says Andy.
On a recent episode of the Anomalous Educator podcast, Andy gave some useful advice to becoming healthier and fitter at work, even for the busiest among us.
Start out Small
What are you doing in between activities in your calendar? Okay, I know that teachers are extremely busy people, but think about your commute to work, those quick coffee breaks, that lunchtime period that gives you a few moments.
For Andy, he takes great joy in walking and makes it part of his daily routine. He knows that during that time he can get the body moving while preparing his muscles and lifting his energy to tackle the day ahead.
During the shorter breaks in the day, he’ll take the opportunity to grab a quick 15 minutes to get a takeaway coffee. “That little walk actually is great for me.”
The bottom line is, keep it simple. “Maybe twist your body left and right a little bit. Go to the kitchen, get a glass of water.
Drink it while standing up. Shift your weight from side to side. Just feel your body and give yourself three to five minutes of standing up before you go back to that thing.”
Begin a Desk Routine
Many of us spend our time sitting at our desks, working hard, but not working out. GMB Fitness have you covered. They have created a desk routine of six simple exercises that you can do right there in your chair.
“I can sit here and I can do this little thoracic extension which is a fancy name for saying you just try to bend your upper back backwards.
Stick out your chest, relax your neck and bend your upper back backwards. Pinch your shoulder blades together and feel like you’re opening your chest up, pulling your shoulders and bending the top of your spine back.”
“I don’t do all six exercises,” Andy explains. “Pick one or two that feel the best and just do those when you have the chance.”
Three to five minutes is all it takes to release body tension using these methods. So, no excuses!
If you are working for hours indoors, this can have hugely damaging effects on your health.
“This is the dark side of the internet revolution. We have more access to information, more connectivity. That also keeps us where there is less need to get up and see the sun and breathe the air,” says Andy.
When the chance arises, go outside and soak in the sun, take some deep, cleansing breaths of fresh air and walk. Studies have shown that being outside can improve memory, fight depression, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer, so get out there when you can.
Finding Exercises That Work for Your Experience Level
If you are one of those lucky people that has a spare 30 minutes or even an hour and wants to start ramping things up consider whether you fall into one of two fitness buckets.
The Experienced Bucket
If you were a particularly sporty person who engaged in physical activity in a past life, Andy says that it can be relatively easy to jump back into a routine.
“You at least have some experience training. You know what it requires and what you need to do.”
The biggest mistake that Andy sees is people just diving straight in and expecting to pick up where they left off. “Just be gentle, ease yourself back into it,” he explains “be realistic with yourself,” and build up your tolerance. This helps you avoid injury or muscle sprains.
The Newbie Bucket
As for those who fall into the second bucket, instead of trying to jump into something big, research exercises that you know you will enjoy that eases you into regular exercising. “You could take up dance or yoga if that’s your thing,” says Andy.
Look around to see what’s convenient to get to in your surrounding area, so getting there doesn’t take up half of your allotted exercise time. “I think you should start with what you’re likely to do,” and switch it up if you’re no longer enjoying it.
Start gradually; you’re not slaying dragons here. You want to prevent yourself from injury, or extreme muscle aches that hinder you from performing at your best at work, so take it slowly, in small bite-size portions when you can.
To hear more health-boosting tips from Andy, listen to the full conversation here.