You've probably heard that regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, elevate your mood and improve mental focus. But in the busy lives of entrepreneurs, getting to the gym often slips further down the to-do list. While fitting in an hour-long workout may not seem feasible, Brent Bishop, Toronto-based fitness expert, personal trainer and author of The Think Factor (Bound Publishing, 2011) says incorporating short fitness intervals into your day is a great way for busy entrepreneurs to increase physical activity. He offers his tips on how to use your commute, coffee break, lunch and even business meetings to sneak in fitness.
1. Change your commute.
Rather than thinking of commuting as time wasted getting to and from the office, Bishop says we should see it as an opportunity for physical activity. Whether you ride your bike to work, get off a couple of bus stops early and walk, or park a few blocks away from the office and do a short power-walk, combining travel with exercise is a great way to incorporate physical activity into your day.
2. Visit the park during your lunch hour.
Bishop says a park bench is a great exercise tool. His video of park bench workouts demonstrates four exercises such as bench push-ups and jumping squats that will get your heart rate up and tone your muscles in under half an hour, plus you'll receive the mood-enhancing benefits of being outdoors. If you feel uncomfortable doing these moves in public or the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can perform them in your office on a chair.
Related: Desk Yoga to Improve Your Posture
3. Incorporate fitness into meetings.
Rather than holding client meetings over lunch or in a conference room, choose a fitness activity to talk about business. Bishop recommends golf, tennis and cycling -- social activities that provide opportunities to meet clients and while being active. Just make sure to check ahead of time to make sure they are comfortable with your plan.Walking meetings in the park are also a great way to sneak in physical activity into your daily operations.
4. Workout at your desk.
Instead of grabbing a mid-afternoon coffee, take a fitness break. Bishop suggests five strength-training exercises that focus on improving posture, something all desk-bound workers can benefit from. Two rounds of each exercise with 15 reps each make a complete 20-minute workout; but for those short on time, Bishop says these exercises can also be done in shorter five-minute increments. To ensure your desk workout isn't interrupted, Bishop recommends placing a note on your door "working out now, come back later." This not only ensures privacy, but "it sends the message [to employees] that health is important and is a priority," he says. Bishop describes these moves and more in his office fit video.
Scapular retraction. Roll your shoulders back and down, squeezing the shoulder blades together as though cracking a walnut. Repeating this move throughout the day not only strengthens your upper back, but reminds you to keep shoulders from rolling forward while working on the computer.
Stationary lunge. Lunges are great at stretching our hip flexors and quadriceps which get shortened from sitting for long periods of time.
Plank. Place your hands flat on the floor and angle your body in a straight line with your toes touching the ground (think the top of a push up). Engage your core, drawing the belly button to the spine and hold for one minute.
Desk push-ups. With your toes touching the floor and hands planted on your desk, lower your chest so it's hovering above the edge of your desk and then push back up to engage and strengthen the shoulders, upper arm and upper back muscles.
Chair dips. Place your hands firmly on your chair behind you with finger tips pointing towards your body. Lift off the chair, lowering your body to the floor, keeping a bend in the knees and engage the triceps to push back up.
5. Treat fitness as an appointment.
Schedule your workout breaks in your smartphone. "Treat it as an appointment that you've committed yourself to just like a meeting," says Bishop. The activities mentioned above can be done at any time of the day, however if you are planning a trip to the gym, Bishop recommends scheduling workouts first thing in the morning. "To start off your day doing something for yourself is going to set the tone for the rest of the day," he says. Plus, "there’s far more excuses [for not fitting in a workout] as the day goes on."