Winter Wellness: Keep It Simple

This column was originally posted at Inside INdiana Business:

Braving the brisk air for a jog may be the last thing you want to do when you wake up. Pursuing indoor activities is a rewarding alternative. Head to the gym or pop in an exercise DVD. Short on time? No problem. You don’t have to use a treadmill or lift weights. Spend two or three minutes doing stretching exercises. Take deep breaths as you prepare for the day ahead.

During your workday, keep active. Conduct standing or walking meetings. In addition, discuss projects in person with co-workers rather than always using e-mail. Or call them and stand up while you’re talking. Nine times out of 10, if I’m on the telephone, I’m moving.

If those options don’t appeal to you (it’s all about personalizing your initiative), try one of these simple desk exercises. Grab a Frisbee or paper plate and turn it upside down. Then put it under your desk and move your legs back and forth on the carpet. It’s a great way to work lower leg muscles.

Looking for inexpensive strength training tools? Use resistance bands (also called therapeutic bands) to stretch. Another idea is to replace your traditional office chair with a stability ball, which helps improve posture and works core muscles. If that is not an option, you can still engage your abs by sitting up straight on the edge of your chair and slightly leaning back.

Prefer something more social? Take a stroll on an indoor path with co-workers. After hours, create your own walking route at a shopping mall. And if the weather isn’t too chilly, venture outside and have fun! Take a scenic walk through the woods at a park or go sledding.

Did you know that you don’t have to exercise for long periods of time to reap the benefits? Ten minutes here and there – adding up to approximately 30 minutes a day – can make a big difference. The key is figuring out how you can incorporate physical activities into your normal day based on what you feel you are capable of doing and what interests you.

Take the stairs. Walk up an escalator rather than standing in place. When you’re grocery shopping, push your cart through every aisle. Small steps add up.

The holidays bring good tidings and… lots of temptation. Why not take a walk after a big meal with family and friends? Also, instead of sampling all of the festive foods you crave, enjoy one or two things and savor them.

Many people will enter 2013 with a resolution to stop smoking. It’s an important step that can dramatically improve your health and well-being. The QUIT NOW Tool  offered by the Wellness Council of Indiana is a valuable resource to assist Hoosier employees in their smoking cessation efforts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each smoker costs his or her organization $3,391 annually in direct medical costs and lost productivity. That’s a huge impact. Remember: Healthy employees lead to healthy workplaces with happier, more productive team members.

The best gift you can give to yourself is good health. Find what works for you and makes you happy. That’s how you truly make a lifestyle change.