Haworth College of Business News

Fit tips for business professionals

Photo of Dely in front of gym equipmentStaying motivated: February is the shortest month of the year, yet it can sometimes seem like the longest. Whether your region brings you snowy winter weather (Kalamazoo might know a little something about snow) or more temperate days, this month can be a good time of year to re-charge your personal wellness plan and think about ways to stay healthy in the workplace. Regardless of time of year, many of our Business Broncos spend a good deal of time in office settings or working while on the road. Taking a few steps to increase your fitness consciousness can be an important factor in greater productivity at work and at home.

West Hills Athletic Club certified personal trainer, certified Pilates coach and Pilates program coordinator, Elisa Dely, B.S.’93, provides helpful tips and sample in-office exercises to up your fitness quotient.

Check out the company gym: If your office has fitness equipment, take advantage of it and work out before or after work or during lunch. A combination of cardio, strength training and stretching is optimal. If you can exercise for 30 minutes or more each day you are at work, it will have a significant impact. And it doesn’t have to be 30 consecutive minutes. If it’s more practical, three or four 10- to 15-minute spurts of exercise are fine. Exercise is proven to combat stress, so walk, kickbox, dance and lift your way to a less stressed version of you.

Increase your steps and move more: Wearing a pedometer that counts steps is a great way to make you more aware of how much you are moving in any given day. Move every chance you get; remember, moving a little is better than not moving at all. If you are lucky enough to live close to work, walk at least two days per week. If you must drive, park as far away as possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand up while you are working or sit on an exercise ball to activate your stabilizing muscles. If you get up and move throughout your day, you will be re-energized and more mentally alert. Movement helps wake you up and will counteract the mid-day blahs.

Use a tracker or app: Using an exercise tracker such as the FitBit or Nike Fuel band along with an app like MyFitnessPal are great ways to make yourself aware of how much you are moving and how many calories you are eating and burning. Being aware of your activity levels and nutrition is half the battle.

Develop a plan you can stick to: You have choices when you exercise! Walking for a half hour burns roughly 180 calories, thirty minutes of biking burns between 250-400 calories, jumping rope for 30 minutes burns around 300 calories, elliptical training for 30 minutes burns approximately 300 calories and running for 30 minutes burns around 300-500 calories. No matter what you choose, do something you enjoy and start slowly. This way you have a better chance of sticking with it and avoiding injury.

Strength training is extremely important for your overall fitness too. Building lean muscle helps your body burn more calories while at rest. Try to carve out time, at least 30 minutes most days, for strength training. Optimally, join a gym or fitness center where you have access to lots of equipment and professionals who can help you get started so that your limited time is spent efficiently. Getting fit is not unlike being successful in business; you are much more effective if you have a strategy and goals in place.

Find a fitness friend: Is there a group of co-workers who go walking at lunchtime or hit the gym? If so, join them. If not, form your own group. Finding people at work who share your mindset about getting or staying fit will help you stay accountable and motivated.

Use your office as a gym


Sitting or standing abdominal crunches – Sit or stand straight and tall. Pull your belly button to your spine and suck in your abs to crunch your rib-cage toward your pelvis. Hold for a couple of counts and release. Do as many times as possible.

Chest and Arms

Dips – With your palms on a chair (make sure it isn’t a rolling chair!) and feet on the floor, scoot your rear off the end of the chair. Then bend your elbows lowering your body and straighten your arms to push back up.

Dely doing dips on an office chair

Pushups – On the wall or using your desk, place your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart against the wall or on the desk or floor. Bend your elbows to bring your chest as close to the wall or floor as possible then using your chest press up.

Dely in pushup position 2Dely inpushup position 1


Squats: Standing up, keep your chest lifted and sit back into a chair without touching, then stand back up squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. Press up from your heels, not toes.

Dely in squat position 1Dely in squat position 2


Wall sits: Stand with your back against the wall. Move your feet away from the wall so the wall is supporting the weight of your back. Bend your knees so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Hold this “sit” for as long as you can without feeling it in your knees.

Dely doing a wall sit


Standing leg lifts: Maintaining perfect posture, lift your leg straight out to side without leaning to the opposite side, 10 times, followed by lifting your leg behind you 10 times without leaning forward. Don’t worry about how high you get, focus on working your muscles and standing up straight. Switch sides.

Dely doing standing leg lifts


Chair leg lifts, seated – These are more difficult than they look. Sitting straight and tall, lifting your ribcage up from your pelvis, pulling your abs up and in, extend one leg and lift up as high as possible without leaning back, 10 times. Then, switch legs.

West Hills Athletic Club is operated by Western Michigan University. For more information, visit http://www.westhillsathletic.com/ or call (269) 387-0410.

Dow logo

Interested in corporate wellness and how it affects company culture as well as the business case for wellness programming? Look for our feature on alumnus Ron Edmonds, B.B.A.’79, vice president and controller of Dow Chemical Company, in our college magazine. Dow Chemical has one of the most robust corporate health and wellness programs in the nation and its model has been used extensively as a case study.