Fit for Work

Tapping into the power of a workout pays off for productivity

Issue: Jul 2010

Exercise is the power tool you will need to be effective for work
Exercise is the power tool you will need to be effective for work

What does the American President Brack Obama and President of CapitaLand, Mr Liew Mun Leong, have in common?

They are both big on exercise! Take it from those who run countries and conglomerates. They know the value of getting in a good workout and make time for exercise.

Studies have shown that physical activity is beneficial in many ways. Being physically active will improve your alertness, self-esteem, immunity to stress, memory, stamina, resilience, overall mood and sense of well-being.

Too Busy to Exercise

But consider this: President Obama gets in one hour of basketball or gym workout a day, six days a week, no less. Mr Liew makes sure he exercises for one and a half hours daily even when he travels for work. In fact the busier he got, the more he exercised.

“The best way to distress is through an active workout. Good for your mind and body. I have been jogging for many years. When I took over Pidemco Land in 1996, I increased my efforts to 30 minutes (from 20 minutes) three to four times a week. When the merger came, stress built up, but that was no problem, I just stepped up the workout programme. Now I jog for 45 minutes, seven days a week unless I’m ill or flying early in the morning. It’s a great regime and I have never felt fitter!” Mr Liew wrote in his book "Building People, Sunday Emails from a CEO".

Experts say adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise most days of the week, preferably daily. Doing less than this will minimize your health benefits.

Mini Gym At Your Desk

While you may not have the discipline to follow Mr Liew’s exercise regime, exercising a little creativity can help you to squeeze in a little movement all day long while you work.

All it takes is 10 minutes and loads of determination to make it work.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many workouts that do not require any equipment or you dragging yourself to the gym.

So, fitting mini workouts into your daily work routine is absolutely possible.

Opt to exercise during coffee breaks and lunchtime. Exercise can energise you in a natural way by drawing blood sugar from the liver at a rate the pancreas can deal with.

If there is a gym near your office, choose to drop by there for a quick work out.

But if you are not too keen to dress down for a workout during the workday, you can always exercise right at your desk, with a little creativity.

Using your body parts as weight, you can do calve, butt, shoulder and back stretches from where you are sitting. Here are some desk exercises:

Using your body as weight
Using your body as weight, there are a few exercises you can do at your desk or on the floor

1) Sit on your chair, tighten up your butt and rest.

2) Still sitting on your chair, bend your knees and lift them to the ceiling. This an isometric curl for your abs.

3) Stay seated on the chair and put your palms on the edge on your desk. Bend your elbows and move your chest towards the desk, then push out the body to the back.

4) Next, stand up and lift all body weight on your toes. This exercise is for your calve muscles.

You will feel a workout if you do 30 repetitions of each desk exercise as suggested above.

For more cardiovascular workouts during office hours, choose to walk up and down the stairs for about 10 minutes during your coffee or lunch break. It’s easy and gear-free.

Opportunities to exercise abound as gyms
Opportunities to exercise abound as gyms sprout in airports for busy executives on the go

Working Out on the Go

There is no lack of opportunities to exercise for executives who travel for work, too.

Most hotels and service apartments around the world have gyms and swimming pools.

“The hotel gyms in several US cities that I travelled to were busy from 6am onwards until sometimes as late as 11pm. And the size! The one in New York that I went to was 150,000 square feet over six floors!” Mr Liew describes.

Even the airports are touting their fitness clubs and gyms for exercise conscious travellers. So instead of spending an hour watching television at the terminal, why not jump onto the treadmill, curl the dumbbells or stretch out in a Pilates class while waiting?

balancing work and exercise
You can be “on the ball” balancing work and exercise with some creativity and will power

Simple Changes for Powerful Improvements

Once you have decided to make that conscious effort to exercise during the day, you will need to make simple changes to your routine.

Start simply. Don’t be too ambitious. Whether it is going to the gym or doing a set of desk exercises, start slow and increase the repetitions and duration over time.

Making small changes to your lifestyle can also be beneficial. For those who take a train to work, consider alighting at an earlier stop so that you can walk the rest of the way. Although this bit of walking may not be as effective as hitting the road, gym or taking up a sport, it is a small step towards having a mindset to keep fit.”

So, commit to your plan and stay focus on being active. Remember that there are more benefits to staying active than not. So carve out the time to do it and you will be fitter for work.

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