When you work a traditional eight to five, it is hard to spark changes that will lead to a healthier life. Throw in kids, aging parents, and other outside factors; the cards are stacked against you. Today I want to talk about the most common challenges keeping people from their fitness goals and how they can overcome them.
I. Traditional work hours
The majority of people work in an office setting where they sit down for the majority of the day and get one hour for lunch. Human beings are not meant to sit down for hours on end. Sitting kills our metabolic fat-burning rate because they are not moving and burning calories. Next, sitting leads to joint pain. The most common issues I see with people who sit down for long periods are forward head posture (nerd-neck), kyphosis (hunch-back), and anterior pelvic tilt (lower back pain).
First, forward head posture happens when someone continually leans their head forward for long periods, throwing their neck out of its natural alignment with the spine. Nerd-neck typically happens because they are typing at a computer all day, and fun fact, that is why it is called nerd-neck.
Second, kyphosis or hunch back develops because of poor sitting posture. The majority of people will relax their abdominal muscles when they sit down, and this allows a slouch to occur. Combined with the leaning forward posture for typing, this will lead to rounded shoulders and boom. Full-blown hunch-back.
Lastly, is the anterior pelvic tilt. The hip flexors can become permanently shortened when someone sits down for long periods of the day and neglects to stretch their hip flexors. Tight hip-flexors will then pull on the pelvic bone, causing it to tilt forward. This tilt will put pressure on the coccyx and lumbar spine, which leads to lower back pain.
Beat the Eight to Five
People can put themselves in a better position to avoid these downfalls by opting for non-traditional seating at work. By now, most individuals have seen the office worker who opts in for a stand-up desk or a swiss ball instead of a traditional chair. These two options are great for promoting core activation and keeping the metabolism active.
I would also suggest taking frequent breaks throughout the day to walk around your office and stretch. Start by taking a break every two hours to walk around and stretch for 15 minutes. Studies have shown that employees are more productive when they take these types of breaks as well. If you're lucky enough to have an on-site workout facility, take advantage of it and complete a 30 minute HIIT workout over your lunch break, just like I did in the video below.
II. Family Responsibilities
Whether you are a parent to a child, or you are taking care of an aging parent, time must be carved out of the day to take care of those who rely upon you. These tasks usually come in the form of cooking, cleaning, and transporting those loved ones to their appointments. It is easy to let the lives of others take over yours.
Become the Master of Your Own Time
Demand your time back by scheduling your day. The majority of the people I have worked with do not use a calendar or planner to schedule their day, and it shows. Schedule out your days to see where you have blocks of time that our optimal for exercise.
Gain more time by preparing weekly meals for the family ahead of time. Prepare these meals during your weekly meal prep. Most kids know how to use a microwave, which leads me to my next tip. Put more responsibility on the kids.
I will admit that some of my clients "pamper" their children, and it cuts into their time. Kids over the age of five do not need you to make their beds are made and they are ready for school in the morning. They are going to be independent adults one day, and some of these more mundane tasks can be left up to them.
When dealing with aging parents, try to split the responsibility with your other siblings who live in-town. If this is not an option, try to schedule their appointments, so they fit into your schedule more conveniently. Also, try to request times to work remotely, so you can be with them more.
If you have tips of your own, please leave a comment, so that it may help someone who is strugglings.