Of the many lessons we’ve learned this past year, perhaps the most useful is that it’s better to focus on what we can do, as opposed to what we’ve been restricted from doing. So, as we come upon a full year of gym memberships collecting dust as they lie unused within the recesses of our wallets, consider the doors remote work has opened. Our daily schedules have become flexible in such a way as to better allow us to reach our health and fitness goals!   

In this article, we’ll explore the recommendations from our latest Thriver Podcast episode, Building Powerful Routines with Coach Gornik. Logan Weisberg, Senior Customer Success Manager at Thriver and fitness enthusiast, spoke to Bret Gornik, Co-Founder of Live Better for insight on the topic. Following their lead, we’ve come up with a step-by-step game plan you can follow to create the perfect balance between work and your physical health in a way that will lead to overall mental wellbeing.

Plan ahead to achieve your fitness goals

Before you begin to think about what physical activity will look like in your workday, you have to set the plan in place. Begin with small steps: make a note in your daily calendar that you will work out tomorrow at a certain time, get your workout clothes ready the night before, and plan a protein-packed breakfast. This will motivate you to actually stick to your plan of taking a short workout break because it will get you visualizing. 

“I think the most important thing is to create that routine,” Bret says. “Put something on your actual work calendar and communicate with your team that you’re going to take x minutes to do a stretch or a meditation or a breath,” Bret adds. By planning the minutiae, you will begin to visualize what your workout will look like, how you will feel afterwards, and by extension feel pumped about your next workout break.

Be vulnerable with your team

“What’s cool about the work from home environment is the impact fitness breaks have on teams,” Bret says. “I think if you’re able to communicate with your team, be vulnerable and transparent with them that you need to fuel up — it goes a long way.” Why not schedule your physical activity break on your team’s shared work calendar? Being open and vulnerable with your team about the importance of physical activity breaks for you might inspire your team members, too. They’ll follow suit in wanting to take action in improving their own relationship with activity and work. 

An accountability buddy at work could help with ensuring that you’re making good choices throughout the day.

– Logan Weisberg, Customer Success Manager at Thriver

What’s more is you have science on your side. A few years ago, a study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that there is a direct correlation between exercise and mental wellbeing. The study’s author Karmel Choi said that a person’s chances of becoming depressed decrease by 26% for every major increase in physical activity throughout their day, insofar as this activity is measured by an objective tool, such as an activity tracker. For example, if you run for 15 minutes one day, and walk for an hour the next, your chances of being mentally well go measurably up. Being honest about your initiative to tackle such an important resolution as fitness brings up so many great opportunities for you and your team, so much so that before you know it, you’ll have started a fitness-break revolution in your workplace. 

Find an accountability buddy 

Being vulnerable with your team might even help you to find an accountability buddy. Once the conversation around your fitness goals is sparked, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with colleagues who have similar mental and physical fitness goals as you do. “An accountability buddy at work could help with ensuring that you’re making good choices throughout the day,” Logan says. “I always use the term that ‘you are the product of the five people you spend the most time with’,” Bret adds. “If those five people are pushing you and taking you to the next level, you’re more likely to achieve your goals.” 

Opportunities for team fitness abound this year compared to last, because we’ve learned that virtual workout tools not only increase productivity but also kickstart morale. A survey conducted by ClassPass, a wellness classes service, found that 3 in 5 people who participated in a virtual team workout felt more connected to their teammates, and 89% of respondents said they felt more productive during their workday after a workout break. The Health and Wellness category on Thriver’s Virtual Experiences (VX) platform provides activities such as yoga, a HIIT fitness class, and a posture-fixing workshop — among many other activities that will get you moving and grooving — created specifically for teams. Great for collective morale and for personal goal-keeping, these VX are an all-round win-win.

Little movements add up

What if we told you that the easiest part of balancing fitness and work is actually the part where you’re moving? Even if in your workday you only have 10 minutes to spare, you can still take steps, literally, to make positive changes in your life. Doing the laundry, clearing up your workspace, or walking to the store to get ingredients for dinner — all these movements lead to drastic improvements in your mental and physical health. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that simply taking a short walking break during work hours can lead to you feeling more enthusiastic and relaxed. So say goodbye to eight consecutive hours spent sitting at your workstation, and begin introducing breaks that will make your body, mind, and team members happy and healthy. 

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