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April 6, 2011

Step into fitness at work

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a post on nutrition topics. Have questions or ideas for future topics? Email This week, Robin Rudner, RD, LDN, (pictured) weighs in on workplace fitness.     

If you stare at a computer all day or have a sedentary job, you may believe it is simply impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals while at work. After all, your day is extremely busy, filled with lots of phone calls, paperwork and other administrative duties. Who has time to take long breaks from work anyway, right? What if staying fit at work didn't take as much effort as you thought? Below are some fun and easy ways to stay on track with your day-to-day health and fitness goals.

1. Get up and fidget more often. Are you emailing or texting your coworker who is down the hall or in the cubicle on the other side of the office? Try walking over to his/her cubicle instead. Remember that every step counts. Research shows that people who fidget and move more throughout the day burn more calories than their counterparts. A pedometer is a great way to stay motivated and get extra steps in. Your goal is to aim for 10,000 steps each day.

2. Take the stairs more often. You've probably heard this time and time again. This doesn't mean you have to take the stairs every time you come and go from your desk, but aim for taking the stairs at least half the time.

3. Journal more. There is a lot of research supporting the positive impact journaling has on your overall food intake each day. If you bite it, you write it. Practice this with exercise as well. Journaling holds you accountable and can help you see your progress. Keep your journal with you as often as possible and use it to track meals, beverages and exercise.

4. Don't keep tempting foods in your drawer or in sight. Make sure you create an environment that is going to support your health and fitness goals. If you have snacks calling your name from the drawer, you're most likely going to give in. Don't have them around!

5. Drink more water and focus on drinking as few calories as possible. Liquid calories don't fill you up the way solid food calories do. A 20 oz soda contains 250 calories and will not satisfy you the way a 250 calorie meal will. If you drink 20 oz of soda every day, you're consuming 91,000 calories which is equivalent to 26 pounds over the course of a year.

6. Keep motivating quotes or pictures in sight. Keep sticky notes at your desk and write your goal each day. If your goal is to sneak in exercise, write "MOVE" or "EXERCISE." If your goal is to take the stairs instead of the elevator, write "STAIRS." If the sticky note is in sight, you'll most likely think twice before you take another bite of something that will sabotage your hard efforts.

7. Planning is one of the most important factors in achieving your health and fitness goals. The more specific you are in your planning, the more successful you will be. For example, "I will take more steps in the day by taking the stairs 3 times today" vs. a more general goal of "I will be more active today."

8. Take a mini break every hour to stretch your legs and walk around. Remember that you don't have to do all of your exercise at once. Doing 10-15 minute increments several times a day is just as beneficial as one 30-60 minute session.

9. Go for a walk during lunch. Start a walking club or team up with one or more of your coworkers. The more support you have, the more likely you will stick with your goals. Having a buddy can help keep you motivated and encourage you to stay on track. Try a friendly competition in your office- who can take the most steps each day?

10. If you sit at a desk try to tighten your abs, move your calves or tighten your buttocks.

Remember when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals, it takes perseverance, dedication and consistency. Be as specific as you can, but don't be too hard on yourself. If you get off track one day forgive yourself and get right back on track. Remember that each day you are one day stronger, more fit and closer to your goal.

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:00 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: General Fitness, Nutrition


These are EXCELLENT tips! I preach these to my clients all the time - especially the part about having setting specific achievable goals. Setting healthy habits is very challenging for those that work in an office 40+ hours/week & I think this gives them a great place to start. I am printing this article out for my clients - thank you! :-)

I love this idea. Adding these tips to my daily routine at work with co-workers will start immediately. Thanks

Fantastic list of suggestions! :)

Thank you for the "steps", we´ll post them on our blog.

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About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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