Ways to Stay Fit In Corporate America

Ways To Stay Fit In Corporate America & Academia

Whether you’re just starting your career, or been in the workforce a while, the challenge of staying fit is ever present. Long hours, high demands of the job, sitting all day, exhausted by the end of the day, fast food for lunch or dinner… This article provides tips to workers in office, or remote jobs, find ways to live a healthier lifestyle while succeeding at work. This may include those in consulting, tech jobs, corporate, and even those in academia.


Common Traps


Many salaried positions have a constant pressure to work long hours. Especially in consulting and tech positions, but the focus can sometimes be less on productivity and more on perception which is not good for employee or employer. When it comes to delivering actual results, you don’t get credit for time spent working, you get credit for producing quality results. But some organizations or industries can have norms around work hours, work-life balance, that don’t always lead to a healthy lifestyle. And the costs associated can be project related or personal, which often may be down the road. Mistakes today may not be found until tomorrow, next week, next month. And constant stress, day after day, will eventually lead to a breaking point.

Some Toxic Workplace Norms


  • Eating lunch at your desk, while working, while still working an 8+ hour day. Not healthy, not taking adequate breaks isn’t good for anyone.
  • People frequently showing up late to meetings. When this becomes the norm for people on a project team who don’t have other major priorities it shows disrespect for others time. It can lead to miscommunication, longer meetings, difficulty coordinating, and unnecessary longer work hours.
  • No clearly defined roles or expectations on how teams should communicate or interact – teams should be structured intentionally, goals should be clearly laid out, with targets for meeting those goals based on best practices. When this doesn’t happen, people often don’t know what they are doing, how it fits into the larger picture, and it can result in lengthy and unproductive working time.
  • Working late and on weekends. If you work a salaried position where this isn’t clearly outlined ahead of time, and this becomes either normal or expected, then there is something wrong with how the team is structured or is operating.

Ways To Stay Fit


  1. Leave a pair of shoes at the office if possible: if you can wear sneakers to and from, leave your dress shoes, otherwise leave sneakers at the office that you can switch into if you step out during the day. Dress shoes are horrible for your feet, often narrow in the forefoot, cramp the toes. Forcing your foot in that position for most of the day is not good, so anything you can do to minimize wearing them is better than nothing.
  2. Take off your shoes: if you’re sitting or standing at your desk for extended periods of time, take off the shoes – most shoes are terrible for your feet which most people don’t appreciate until they end up in the podiatrist office due in no small part to shoes that force your feet in unnatural shapes. Many foot problems can be avoided, or lessened, and are not an inevitability. And if working from home, barefoot is great!
  3. Standing desk: standing desks have become much more popular in recent years. Sitting all day leads to tight hip flexors which can lead to anterior pelvic tilt and weakening of the hamstrings and glutes. This can contribute to common issues like lower back pain, and sciatica.  Standing helps counter that, and gives you more freedom to move around even while working.
  4. Move your body frequently: even if staying at the computer, checking email, or when taking a break. Simple mobility exercises to move the body, joints, loosen up any stiffness and reduces likelihood of loss of range of motion of various joints due to lack of movement all day. Easier when working remote, but some simple movements at the office, going up and down stairs just to get blood flowing, etc can provide a great break from your routine.
  5. Step away from the computer every hour: get fresh air, go for a walk, clear your mind, get some oxygen into the lungs, get the blood flowing, make small talk with coworkers which helps build rapport. Stepping away to clear the mind when done strategically can actually make you more productive.
  6. Yoga during lunch: many jobs are starting to accommodate for this. Allowing employees a little extra time to take yoga, or any fitness class, during their lunch break will make the afternoon that much more productive, more work getting done, and lead to happier, healthier and more productive employee. 
  7. Yoga after work: if there is a fitness class at the end of the day it gives you a reason to wrap up your work at a reasonable time so you can do something good for your mind and body. Often after doing something healthy you want to eat healthy too, so double the reward there!
  8. Get a fitness buddy: for yoga, meditation, walking, or just support to talk about life. Many times people struggle in silence about challenges they face life, but other people do care about being more connected, more healthy, and others are often facing many of the same physical and mental struggles that we face that we don’t realize until we connect with others. We all need a little encouragement sometimes!
  9. Get support from HR: to either sponsor classes, subsidize gym memberships, and enact policies that promote health and well-being. Healthy, preventive actions like staying active, eating healthy, moving the body are far less costly in terms of time and money as opposed to ongoing doctor’s visits, pain medication, surgeries, etc that can result over the long term from high stress jobs that restrict movement. Not only that, there are rewards in terms of productivity and vitality around the office that will improve business outcomes.

Supportive Steps


Eat as healthy as you can – limiting sugary, fatty, or salty foods can dramatically change your energy level after a few weeks. Your diet doesn’t have to be perfect, think of 1 small change you can make, like removing 1 unhealthy item and replacing it with something healthy.


Sleep and meditation are crucial – going for a walk mid-day could be considered ‘meditative’ in the sense that it can clear your mind, help you process or digest all the information you took in and see next steps with greater clarity and maybe help improve your presence with colleagues.


Careful of workaholism – For many salaried jobs, there is often a distinction between how long you work and how productive you are – and this idea is one that managers have a vested interest in, which is maximizing productivity while also minimizing mistakes. For people who are genuine workaholics – as the term suggests, they literally suffer from addiction, and for them work serves as an escape. It may look nice on the surface to have that person who is ‘always on’ but there could be negative outcomes associated with that which aren’t always apparent – either to the person, or to the quality of work. It’s important not to feel any self imposed pressure to stay glued to the computer especially if it’s not making you any more productive. And if you’re doing something in 10 hours that could be done in 7, take steps to be more efficient and minimize distractions.


The list of commitments and obligations we have in life never ends – spouse or significant other, kids, family, friends, hobbies – but you only have one body in this lifetime. You only have one body, and one mind. One shouldn’t have to sacrifice eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, exercise, or spending time with family for work. Work hard, yes, but treat yourself well, you deserve it! Carve out time into your schedule just as you do for important meetings – even if it’s a 15 minute block to get some fresh air, an extended break for yoga during lunch, or that fitness class immediately after work!


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