Staying Fit for Your Job Search
Exercise is clearly a key for handling everyday stress, but with the downturn in the economy many of us are working more, trying to find a job or shifting in a new career direction — often paying less attention to staying fit. Lifestyle experts say, though, that it doesn’t have to be this way, according to an article published by the McClatchy Newspapers.
“Fitness should be something that is a habit, something that can’t be negotiated,” Marta Montenegro, editor-in-chief of SOBeFiT Magazine, told the syndicated news organization. Here, according to the article, are some simple steps that experts say can help balance work and fitness and some examples of how people are keeping exercise and healthy lifestyles part of their daily routines:
Create new habits. Montenegro said people often are too ambitious in their fitness goals. She started out small, making one change at a time. Whenever she feels stressed, she takes a 10-minute walk around the office or her neighborhood. “In just 10 minutes you can break a pattern.”
To create a habit of eating healthier, start with breakfast, she said. “Instead of having a muffin at Starbucks, order oatmeal.” Or fill your desk drawer, purse and car with healthy snacks. It’s easy to give excuses about why you didn’t exercise or eat right, she added. “The key is to make it a habit, a priority.”
Get moving. Walking and stretching are the easiest ways to cram exercise into a busy schedule. Both are something you can do with your spouse, friends or children.
Donna Marie Seffer, a schoolteacher, wears a pedometer to work every day and aims for 5,000 steps. While teaching, she walks around the classroom. During breaks, she walks through the halls. When she gets home she walks around the block. “When I walk, it releases my stress because I can just put my mind somewhere else,” she said.
Take advantage of employer wellness programs. More companies are embracing the wellness trend, realizing it’s less expensive to prevent rather than treat most medical conditions. Even as employers cut benefits, a growing number are offering on-site yoga classes or weight loss programs — some even offering incentives to participate.
Learn to relax: David Posen, a stress management expert, said in his “Little Book of Stress Relief,” that unlike the stress reaction, which is involuntary and triggers automatically, the relaxation response has to be brought forth voluntarily and intentionally.
Jodi Cross, who works from home as a director of a women’s organization, starts her day triggering the relaxation response by reading for 30 minutes by a pond in her backyard. She alternates with walking for 45 minutes around the neighborhood. Cross admits it takes discipline: “If I don’t do it first thing in the morning, and just figure that I will read a few e-mails first, the next thing I know it’s late afternoon and I’m much more stressed.”
Stop sacrificing sleep: Karen Koffler is a busy working mom. She’s also the medical director at a luxury hotel and health spa. Koffler often gets up early and rides her bike to work. But she also makes sure she goes to bed early, tucking herself in by 9 p.m. Koffler believes adults should get seven to 10 hours of sleep a night. “If you are shaving time from sleeping to get things done, you’re going to be less efficient in your day-to-day life.”
Consider fitness part of your job description: Exercise helps you take a global view of a situation or conflict. It can spur creativity and even help you find solutions that wouldn’t occur to you when you’re in front of a computer. Tadd Schwartz knows this all too well. That’s why he makes sure he takes time to run, even though his clients want more of his time because of the economic downturn. As a reminder, he puts his running shoes next to his bed to ensure he uses them each morning instead of gravitating toward his computer.
Check out the deals: The upside of the recession is that fitness professionals and health clubs are responding to new budgets — offering discounts and showing more willingness to bargain. Some fitness centers are offering free classes and short-term memberships for the newly unemployed.
“The best anti-depressant is exercise,” Cheryl Patella, a fitness expert, told McClatchy. Patella has been working with small groups of women at parks who come to exercise with their children. “Just do whatever your time will allow you to do,” she advised.