How to Stay in Shape on the 9-to-5 Grind


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You hardly had time to hit the gym between classes, studying and extracurricular activities during your college days. How are you supposed to squeeze it in when you’re commuting to a job every day and spending 40-plus hours per week there? It’s important to get your exercise, especially if you’re sitting down all day, and many people find that a good workout helps them combat stress. Here are some sneaky ways to stay in shape despite your busy new schedule.

Become a Morning Person

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Everyone has the same amount of hours in the day to get things done. The reason some people seem to be wildly more productive is simple: they spend more hours awake than you. Try going to sleep a bit earlier every night, and lay off the snooze button.

Putting your alarm clock out of arm’s reach is an especially helpful way to get you out of bed. Over time, you’ll develop a new routine that includes waking up an extra hour every day to work out and wash up before you even glance at your email.

Use Your Lunch Break

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If you’re not a morning person and can’t bear the thought of waking up any earlier, or already know that you’ll be too exhausted at the end of the day to trudge to the gym, try lunchtime. You don’t have to go to the gym, although they’re usually less crowded at lunchtime.

Some offices have complete gym facilities in the building, which makes working up a sweat less worrisome. If you’re at a smaller company that doesn’t have this perk, or you’re worried about looking too disheveled at work, take a few laps around the block at a brisk pace. It’s better to take a half hour walk than do nothing. You’ll be getting an energy boost in the middle of the day and still have time for a quick lunch.

Don’t Go out of Your Way

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What’s the point of getting a gym membership half an hour away if the thought of that commute stresses you out? Find a gym that makes more sense in terms of location. Choose one close to where you live if you plan to use it in the mornings before you get to work. Find something down the street from your office if you’re more of an evening person.

It’s a lot easier to actually use the gym if it’s right there, and walking a few blocks instead of driving a few miles makes it almost effortless. And if there’s no gym nearby? See if you can use a park or public track instead.

Make the Most of Your Time

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Thirty minutes is the perfect amount of time for a workout. See if you can cut a few minutes here and there during the day by waking up ten minutes earlier or finding a shortcut home. Then, use your newfound time for a powerful cardio routine that gets your heart pumping and works a variety of muscle groups.

Bike to Work

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If you live close enough to the office that you can bike there, and you’re comfortable with riding on city streets, turn your commute into your workout. It’s a great way to use the time you have instead of trying to carve out extra time before or after work.

If you have a packed schedule and rely on public transit, you might actually shave a few minutes off of your commute time. Get yourself some cute, breathable biking clothes and toss your work clothes in a backpack. Freshen up in the bathroom before heading to your desk.

If you can’t bike to work for whatever reason, see if you can ride your bike while running errands in the evening or even around the neighborhood on weekends. It’s the perfect way to get a toning, full-body workout while also getting you from point A to point B.

Stay Motivated

It’s difficult to pry yourself out of bed if you can’t immediately see the results of your efforts. Use and app or an old-fashioned, paper calendar to track how many times per week you actually work out.

This will help you visualize the positive change in your routine and celebrate little milestones like squeezing in an extra mile or rep. You’re less likely to skip a day if it means breaking your streak or not reaching a goal in time.

It may also help to tell a friend about your commitment to making time for working out, so he or she can keep you accountable and cheer you on when you need some backup.

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Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a blog dedicated to helping readers navigate the job search and work world to find happiness and success. She specializes in career advice but is also a health nut and DIY junkie with a passion for living life to the fullest. You can follow Sarah @SarahLandrum

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