Easy ways to stay fit while working full time

Looking for ways to stay fit while working full time? It can often feel challenging to make time for ourselves while juggling our personal and professional lives, but our wellbeing has never been more important.

With many of us continuing to work from home for the foreseeable, it offers new opportunities for finding movement throughout the day. Plus, there are a number of ways we can add more fitness to our day even if we’re still heading into work.

How to stay fit while working full time

When we’re juggling work with seeing friends and caring for family, our own wellness often falls to the bottom of the priority list. Having a routine is an effective way to get fitness back on your schedule. Setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier or finding five minutes during the day for exercise will all add up.

Also think about how you can incorporate movement into your working life. Whether it’s getting up from your desk at least once an hour to fetch a glass of water, or scheduling a phone meeting where you can walk through the park, it all counts. Figure out which time of day best suits you to exercise and schedule in your workouts, just as you would other tasks.

Simple exercises to support your fitness

Make use of your bodyweight and surrounding props to build strength and stamina. Convenience is key here and will make it easier for you to regularly fit exercise into your diary.

Don’t be set back if one particular exercise isn’t right for you. Experiment until you find something you really enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stick to exercise if it’s an activity you like.

Counter push-ups

We often think we need buckets of time to tone up our muscles, but this isn’t the case. Practising push-ups against a kitchen counter while waiting for the kettle to boil is a simple way to fit more movement into your day.

You can also alternate with tricep dips too. These simple moves will help to strengthen your upper body, contributing to better posture. Ideal when sitting hunched over a laptop all day!

Door frame stretch

Feeling stiff from a long day in the office? Try this movement to make your working day more comfortable.

Stand in an open doorway, resting your palms above your head towards each corner of the door frame. Step forward with one foot, releasing tension in your back, arms and opening up your chest. This movement helps to reduce tension in the muscles supporting your spine, potentially helping to ease back pain and improve your overall mobility.

Add more weight

You can easily fit in some bicep curls while taking a hands-free phone call or reading through a document. Grab a pair of light hand weights, or opt for bottles of water or tins of beans to get started.

Alternatively, wearing ankle weights or a weighted jacket throughout the day is a simple way to add more resistance to your movements, helping to gradually build strength and stamina.

Strengthen your core

A strong core will aid balance as well as supporting other exercise. There are many different models of office chairs available nowadays that encourage you to engage your core all day long while sitting at your desk.

But you don’t have to make a major investment of a new chair, or buy any equipment to strengthen your muscles. Adding core-strengthening movements into your daily routine will add up over time.

For example, try a yoga boat pose:

  1. Sit on the floor, with your knees bent, placing the your hands under the knees, gently holding onto your thighs.
  2. Gently begin to lean back until you feel your tummy muscles working. Remain open through the chest as you draw your belly button in towards your spine and engage through the pelvic floor, keeping your spine straight.
  3. Hold for three to five breaths before coming back up to sitting

As you gain strength, you may wish to lift your legs up slightly, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. You may even wish to release the hands from the legs.

This is an effective exercise to do whenever you have an opportunity to sit on the floor – watching TV,  brushing your teeth, etc – just a few minutes a day will quickly build up your core!

Schedule in strength

Fancy a five minute break? Jump up from your chair and give your legs a little workout. Scheduling to do so regularly will not only help you to build strength, it may help to boost your work performance too.

Aim to do a few rounds of squats. Engage your core and outstretch your arms as you bend down, sticking your bottom backwards. You can always up the ante and add in a little jump to turn this simple exercise into a cardio-driven workout. Start with a round of five or 10 squats, gradually building up as you get stronger.

Take a stroll

If you’re commuting into work, try getting off at an earlier bus, tram or tube stop to add more of a walk to your journey. It’s a simple way to add in a few more steps to your day. If you work from home, getting up a little earlier to have a morning walk can be a great way to start your working day with a clear head.

Movement throughout the day is important too. Guilty of having lunch ‘al-desko’? Make sure you take time away from your computer to stretch your legs and clear your mind. Walking for 20 to 30 minutes can help you to switch off, increasing your ability to focus on returning to work.

If you’re concerned about being away from work for that long, schedule in a walk with a phone meeting. If you can though, take a real break to be mindful and simply concentrate on your surroundings, giving your work brain a rest.

Join a class

The arrival of the pandemic and lockdown has meant that many exercise classes are now available online. It’s never been easier to join an exercise class from the comfort of your own home or office.

From a 15-minute lower body workout, to a lunchtime yoga class, unwind and reset to break your day up. Here’s our pick of the best online workouts to help you stay fit while working full time.

Simple tips to stay motivated

  • Slow your routine down and focus your mind to target certain muscle groups. Try this throughout the day – engage your core while sitting or standing to improve your overall posture.
  • Don’t push yourself so far that you feel like giving up. Take breaks to help your body recuperate, maintaining energy levels and your motivation.
  • Resistance bands are a great way to increase the difficulty of each exercise. Use them for squats to vary your workout intensity and maintain balance.
  • Don’t underestimate the benefits of stretching, not only to release tension from slouching over a desk all day, but to relax muscles and prevent injury before and after exercise.

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Words: Lilly Atkinson
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