Why You Should Be Working Out While You Work

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We’ve all had them – days where the work never seems to end. You have one project, one deadline, one phone call, one meeting after another. It seems like you barely have time to eat, let alone do something like exercise.

But on those busy, busy days, working out is precisely what we should be doing. Of course there are some days when it’s just not going to happen. But making exercise a priority even on your busy days will boost your focus, increase your productivity, and improve your overall health.

Honor God with your body

Our bodies are a gift from God. When I first studied Pope St. John Paul II’s writings on the Theology of the Body, I began to appreciate my body in a less superficial way. God gave us bodies, not so we can diet and do workouts we hate, just to squeeze into a size of jeans too small for us or look how we think we should look in a bathing suit. God gave us bodies so that we can use them to love and serve Him.

And “serving Him” might look different on a daily, and even hourly, basis: we can use our bodies to serve the Lord by loving our spouses, serving those in need, or making the work of our professional lives a prayer, but ultimately, we serve the Lord by taking good care of the body He has given us.

In short, treating our bodies well will make us better professionals, and better women of faith. Our bodies are a gift that help us do the things we love, the things that drive us and inspire us both personally and professionally, and we should treat them as such. And that means making time for exercise even on the busy days.

But how?

How do we fit yet another thing into our already-busy schedules? How do we make time for ourselves to exercise when there are already so many obligations tugging us in a dozen different directions?

It takes a bit of craftiness, flexibility, self-motivation, and the abandonment of perfectionism.

1. Get creative

To fit even a little bit of time into your day to exercise, you need to be creative and consider, realistically, what works best for you. When planning a workout, choose the time of day that truly works best for you and your schedule.

There seems to be a widespread notion that workouts are best completed in the morning and I don’t think this is the case – they are best completed when they will actually get completed! Whether that’s on a lunch break, during an afternoon pause between meetings, morning or evening, choose the time of day that will work best for you.

And whether you have a set workout plan that you try to follow or if you’re starting from scratch and are just looking to add a little more physical activity to your day, determine what your goals are and what you are interested in doing for exercise. Do you want to simply get on your feet for 20 minutes? Do you want to gain strength and endurance? Are you looking to lose weight or train for a 5K?

Having a goal in mind will give even the quickest workouts – squeezed in between phone calls, meetings, and school pickup time – purpose and focus.

2. Be flexible

Flexibility is important no matter what your work schedule looks like, because life happens and you don’t know what will throw off your schedule, and your workout. Be flexible enough to forego the workout you had planned to do in exchange for a shorter one, if time doesn’t allow you to spend more than 20 or 30 minutes on your feet.

And keep in mind that less is sometimes more. Spending an hour on an elliptical or running five miles is great, but it’s not the most efficient when you’re looking to make the most of your time and you don’t have an hour to drop everything to go to the gym or for a run around the neighborhood. Don’t underestimate the power of high intensity interval workouts – short, intense bursts of effort, like five rounds of 10 second sprints/1 minute rest or 30 seconds of burpees/1 minute rest. Workouts like sprint intervals and circuit training are proven to improve your fitness levels faster than steady-state cardio – and you can easily finish workouts like this in less than half an hour.

3. Find what motivates you

With that said, not everyone wants to do hill sprints or burpees. Find workouts that you will actually want to do. Find what activity motivates you to actually want to take an exercise break in the middle of the day or squeeze in after work. Maybe this is a walk around the building, a morning run, or an evening swim. But make sure it’s something you enjoy doing. If you hate running, it will be difficult to make it happen on an easy day, let alone a busy day.

Find something you genuinely enjoy doing that will also help you reach your fitness goals, whether that’s weight training, running, swimming, dancing, or a particular class, and you’ll find your motivation to workout will be much higher.

4. It doesn’t have to be perfect

Working out can easily be sabotaged by our own perfectionism. Perfectionists, myself included, expect their workouts to live up to certain expectations, but reality usually clashes with that perfectionist fantasy.

As Catholic women in business, we don’t have all day to train hard and devote all our time and energy towards working out. So keep in mind that you’re not training for the Olympics. You’re working out for the health benefits, to improve your own work, and for enjoyment.

Something is better than nothing

On the busy days, something is ALWAYS better than nothing. Every workout doesn’t have to be your very best. Whether it’s an intense workout or a relatively easy one, remember that the overarching goal is to to get your heart rate up, clear your mind, and give you some time to yourself so you can return to work and family refreshed, focused, and more relaxed.

Sarah Coffey is a freelance writer, copywriter, and editor. In college, she converted to Catholicism, met her now-husband Jesse, and received a B.A. in History. In 2018 she took the entrepreneurial plunge and started a copywriting and copyediting business  Coffey Copy & Content, LLC  and hasn't looked back. She loves using her talents for writing and editing to help business owners, students, and writers convey their messages powerfully and cleanly. She is also currently working on a Master's in Sacred Theology through St. Joseph's College of Maine and writes on matters of faith, theology, business, and travel. You can read more of her writing here.