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Fitness on the clock: staying active at work

Fitness in the workplace? Yes, it’s happening around you, and it’s gaining momentum for a variety of reasons. According to Livestrong, regular exercise improves all aspects of your life … including workplace productivity. When you exercise, you are also increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness. There are many benefits to keeping active at work and just as many ways to do so.   

On Purdue’s campus, there are several ways to incorporate daily exercise into your workday. The Center for Healthy Living’s no-cost health coaching program offers support and motivation to faculty and staff; incorporating exercise into your daily routine is among the many ways the program and registered nurse health coaches can help. The Recreational Sports Center invites faculty and staff in to swim, lift weights, climb the rock wall and much more. Plus, the convenient hours make it possible to meet any fitness need.  

According to Debra Crume-Nagel, a registered nurse health coach at the Center for Healthy Living, the health coaches at the Center offer one-on-one support based on each person’s individual needs as he or she looks to enhance their personal well-being.

“We work together to develop a wellness vision,” Crume-Nagel explained. “We discuss motivators and obstacles. Health coaches guide you through making goals and tracking your outcomes. The supportive partnership helps guide you on your path to wellness.”

Some staff members are upping the ante when it comes to incorporating exercise into their daily routines. They’re literally bringing their workouts to their offices and getting co-workers involved, too.

As Crume-Nagel shared, “Getting more activity at work doesn’t have to be difficult. The benefits of taking time at work to get up and move or stretch are endless.”

Kevin Vedder, senior director, organizational effectiveness, Ed Vahary, information analyst, and Adedayo Adeniyi, director, leadership and organizational development, are prime examples of that and team up at least three times a week for an unofficial “push-up party” in Vedder’s office. 

According to Vedder, there’s no fancy name for their fitness breaks at present, but the routine started as a mutual idea with Vahary as a way to have some fun and fitness in the workplace.  Adeniyi said he happened to be in the right place at the right time.  

“As I think back on how I was recruited, things started with a discussion about being heathy which resulted in me being face down doing 30 push-ups, Adeniyi said.

Vedder explained they picked pushups since they can be done quickly and easily. “Pushups also offer both a cardio and strength benefit, and we can track our progress over time by increasing the number and times throughout the day that we do them,” he said.

“Getting more activity at work doesn’t have to be difficult. The benefits of taking time at work to get up and move or stretch are endless.” 

- Debra Crume-Nagel, registered nurse health coach, Center for Healthy Living

Currently, Vedder, Vahary and Adeniyi are doing one set of 35 pushups every other day but they have a goal to increase the number of sets and repetitions.

“It only takes about one to two minutes to complete a set of pushups, and it really gets your breathing, heart rate and activity level going,” Vedder said.

Along with the pushups, both Vedder and Vahary incorporate other exercise opportunities into their work days. According to Vahary, he normally does four types of activity during the work day consisting of curls with a 15-pound Kettlebell weight, stretching sequences, walking or doing steps - and of course, pushups.

“It breaks up the day, and I’m looking for the fountain of middle age,” Vahary said.

Adeniyi has a similar opinion about why he takes part. “Fun, fun, fun,” he said. “I can’t beat it. I can have fun with my coworkers and get fit at the same time.”

Vedder tries to use a variety of activities to stay active throughout the day, including going to the Recreational Sports Center at lunchtime when his schedule permits or working out in the morning for at least 30 minutes, five days a week alternating between cardio and strength training; parking away from buildings to get more walking and walking to meetings whenever possible – this also helps avoid parking challenges on campus; taking the stairs and not using the elevator; using a standing workstation to keep active and moving; drinking water/staying hydrated without sodas; using a fitness tracker to monitor his activity; using stretch bands for some resistance exercises; and doing those pushups with some of his office mates.

In addition to the ideas Vedder and Vahary shared, Crume-Nagel suggests you use the restroom that is farthest away, get your coffee on a different floor, walk to see a colleague rather than phone or email, have walking meetings and do a group exercise on the hour.

“Statistics show that people working in sedentary office environments are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems, but everyone can do some simple exercises and activities that are easy to do, offer great benefits and take just a few minutes throughout the day to do,” Vedder said. “The key is to find something that works for you, get started and stay with it.”

Crume-Nagel agrees.

“The more active you are, the better your heart and lungs work,” she said. “One of the new expressions is ‘sitting is the new smoking.’ Recent studies have shown that sitting is more detrimental to your health than smoking. Getting up and moving will decrease your chances of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

According to Crume-Nagel, even if you have these conditions, staying active may help you have better control, feel better and live longer.

“Your body, bathroom scale and brain will thank you,” she said. Crume-Nagel shared the following supporting benefits of staying active at work:

  • Body: Being active keeps your muscles, bones and joints healthy. Activity and stretching will increase muscle strength and bone density. It also benefits your flexibility and coordination.
  • Scale: By staying active throughout the day, you burn more calories to help you stay or get to a healthy weight. Getting more activity throughout the day will increase your metabolism so you’ll burn more calories at rest.
  • Brain: Moving around and getting more activity can help boost your self-esteem, change your outlook on problems and give you an increased sense of control. People who are more active tend to have less anxiety, depression and stress.

Now, it’s up to you to get moving and take control of your health and wellness. As you can see there are options all around you – some even right in your office.

To allow all employees an opportunity to take advantage of the workshops available, Center for Healthy Living guest speakers can come directly to a department meeting, retreat or lunch and provide a workshop or lunch and learn training at no cost. Among the programs available for on-site workshops is an “Introduction to Health Coaching” presentation.

For more information about the Center’s health coaching program or to schedule departmental, on-site wellness training, call the Center for Healthy Living at 49-40111. Individuals also can schedule an appointment through the patient portal.

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