New year, new you? How to get fit with a busy schedule

All the chocolates, including the Bounty’s, have been eaten, we have finally moved from the sofa and we’ve all realised we’ve put on 20 stone over the festive period. It is time to get into the spirit of Mr Motivator and get fit for 2017. But how can you become a fitter version of yourself when your schedule is beyond busy and you’re stuck in the office all day?

“You have got to really want to get fit before you get started and you need to be sure that you want a lifestyle change, not just a diet”, said personal trainer Alex Lane, “Getting fit is going to mean you have much more energy at work and at home. It will also improve your mental awareness and is a great way to deal with any stress in the office.”

Alex, who runs Workouts2U in Worcestershire, said that there are a range of ways to get fit without even signing a gym contract. However, he was keen to highlight just how important it is to have goals when getting fit, he said: “To stay on track, set yourself a short, medium and a long-term goal, but stay realistic and think about what you actually have the time to achieve.” Birmingham based personal trainer Simon King agreed, he said: “You need a plan and something to stick to if you’re going to succeed.”

So on a weekday, how can you change parts of your normal routine to become fitter? Set your alarm just 10 minutes earlier and you can get a mini workout in your routine before you’ve even had a shower. Simon said that short bursts of exercise work best when you have limited time, he said: “Try doing 15-20 seconds of high intensity then recover for 15-20 seconds. You can reduce or increase this over time depending on how you get on, but you should change this routine every 8-10 weeks so your body doesn’t get too used to it.”

Simon KingAlex suggested repeating this 10 minute work out twice each morning: jogging on the spot for one minute then 30 second bursts of star jumps, press ups which can be done on knees to make it easier, dips on a chair or the end of the bed, burpees and body weight lunges before planking for one minute followed by stretching. These exercises can also be done when you get home from work.

Simon, who runs SimonKing Fitness, also recommended switching up your commute to and from work. For example, if you get the train each day, it could be worth getting off a stop or two before and walking the rest. Similarly, if you drive into work, try finding a new car parking space a mile away from the office. Alternatively, if you don’t live far from your workplace, swap taxis for your bike. Simon said: “It is recommended that you take 10,000 steps a day minimum, which is between 4 and 5 miles, so use a smart phone app or Fitbit to keep track of how many you are doing.”

The fitness doesn’t need to stop once you have got the office either, Alex said: “Take some running shoes to work with you and head out on your lunch break for 20-30 minutes. Either walk round the block or go for a run. Alternatively, try the stairs in your office building.” Simon explained that there are ways of keeping fit throughout the day, he said: “Get up and walk around the office every 30 minutes as that is also keeping your posture in check. It is also worth checking ankle weights out and giving them a go whilst sat at your desk.”

Simon KingHowever, getting fit won’t do anything if you are still spending your days sitting next to the office biscuit tin. Both Alex and Simon were both keen to stress the importance of cooking your own food and make a conscious effort to change your eating habits. Alex suggested to always cook with extra virgin olive oil and be sensible with your portion sizes. Simon suggested cutting out white bread, pasta and rice and replacing them with wholegrain options alongside small portions of protein from chicken and fish. Alex also suggested swapping biscuits and crisps as snacks whilst you work with nuts, raisins and fruit as they will also keep you alert throughout the day.

So how can you stay motivated to stick to your new fitness regime? Alex suggested keeping your motivation close by, he said: “Try putting a picture on your phone or desk of what you want to achieve, like what you looked like 10 years ago, and what you want to get back to. It is important to keep looking at that, as that is your motivation and your goal.”

Simon encourages following people who inspire you on social media, so you are regularly reminded of what you want to become, he said: “It is also worth encouraging other colleagues to join you in getting fit and healthy, as you can motivate each other.”

Remember, it is also worth researching classes at your local leisure centre and checking out facilities that you can use in the 2-3 times during weekday evenings. Then, you will get a good idea of what works for you before you commit yourself to a gym contract that you may not always have time to use.

*Consult your GP before doing exercise if you have health conditions and always make sure your surroundings are safe.