Sometimes there are some great coincidences and unexpected discoveries in life. This is exactly how Mat and Kathryn came into my life. One day, I was reading the story on the internet of how two people came to Spain, it looked like the same story about how my husband and I came to Spain. So Kathryn and Mat packed everything in a car and arrived in Spain exactly the same month as we did, just like we brought a dog, and another very interesting fact is that they work in the same field as we do. You can see here what their company Iteracy is doing. Since it was such a coincidence, after reading this story, I felt a sense of belonging and I wanted to get to know them right away. Now it’s been a year since we’ve been communicating and enjoying life in Spain together.
Today I want to share with you our conversation about how to match work and sport routine. I know what it means to sit a lot at work and not exercise, and how it affects the body and emotional health. Nowadays I think a lot of people face similar problems, especially when they work on a computer. This topic is very relevant to me, so I decided to interview Mat who has similar lifestyle and find out how he combines work and sport routine.
1) Which physical activities do you like the most?
I love walking, cycling, yoga, running and I’ve recently started weightlifting.
I’ve always been a pretty skinny guy, and it’s exciting to discover that I can actually build muscles! They’re not much to look at so far, but I’m very proud.
2) From which workout activities do you get most benefit?
My current routine includes weights, yoga and running. They all balance, reinforce and support each other.
Physically, the biggest benefit is weightlifting at the moment. Beginners develop very quickly and I’m noticing all kinds of improvements in my everyday life. For example, my posture is better when sat at a desk because my core is stronger. And the other day I was able to run to catch a bus while carrying a 20kg bag of dog food!
Mat is standing on the head
3) Do you think the body needs more exercise when you spend most of the time at work sitting?
I think your body can cope with pretty much any situation, but you’ll pay the price eventually.
Most of my friends have desk jobs, and in our twenties and thirties we could get away with doing no exercise, drinking too much and eating badly. But as we enter our forties it’s starting to catch up with us: back, knee and hip problems, obesity, high blood pressure. Most of these things are reversible though, and, like a lot of my peers, I’ve discovered that it can be fun to take care of myself!
For desk jobs I think it’s important to strengthen your core muscles to improve your posture, and get some kind of cardiac excerise is important to balance the hours sat in front of a computer. Exercise is also really important to help de-stress and clear the mind. When I’m in the middle of a set of deadlifts I’m totally focused on the movements and my brain is free of chatter – quite a rare thing for me.
4) Is it easy to integrate your sport routine with work? How do you plan your workouts?
It’s really hard to make time for exercise with a full time job! I run my own business working from home, but even then it’s tricky.
I plan to do most of my exercise before I start work in the morning. On alternate days I’ll either do a 45-minute run followed by half an hour of yoga, or an hour of weights. We have a set of dumbbells and a weight bench at home so I save a bunch of time by not going to the gym.
If I don’t get time in the morning then I’ll try to do it right after lunch. But that’s when I often fail – if a client calls when I’m just about to start, or even in the middle of a workout, I can’t just ignore them. If that happens I might try to do it after work, but I’m a lot less motivated by that point!
At the weekend I’ll do a run, yoga and weights on both days if I have a chance, but I don’t beat myself up about it I’m too busy. I’m not training for anything right now don’t have specific goals beyond becoming as strong and fit as I can be.
I’ve found that one of the hardest things is getting back into my routine if something disrupts it. If we go away for the weekend or friends come to stay, it often messes up my routine well into the next week or beyond.
Mat and Kat are standing on the hands
5) How do you motivate yourself to continue your workouts?
For me it’s all about being able to see progress, I’m a huge fan of gamification – turning everyday activities into a game. I’m extremely competitive, even with myself! So I log data about each run or workout and try to beat my score the next time.
I have a Fitbit Alta HR that I use to track my general health and runs, and I use the Jefit app to track my weights sessions. I follow Yoga With Adrien on YouTube for yoga.
There are few things more satisfying than a graph showing your progress – and not just for exercise! I’ve gamified other areas of my life – my sleep, life goals and financial situation.
6) Do you think activity only helps to improve the appearance of your body and gain strength or also helps to improve our mental body?
I think the mental benefits far outweigh the obvious physical ones. Since I started paying attention to my health I’ve become much happier, calmer, more positive and confident, I’m more focused at work, I sleep better… I could go on and on.
7) How often do you do your exercises per week and is it enough for you?
I try to do an hour or so every day as a minimum, which is a good baseline for me and keeps me fit. When work is quiet I can do two or three hours a day and then I feel truly amazing!
Kat and Mat are enjoying stand up paddle board
8) Does your life improve when you do workouts?
Yes, absolutely, and I haven’t found the upper limit yet. Every month that I work out I feel younger, more flexible, stronger, more healthy and my mental health improves.
9) Which activities do you think are suitable for people who spend a lot of time sitting at work?
For someone with a desk job who’s just starting out, I’d say walking or gentle running is a good place to start. A fitness tracker can really help you get to 10,000 steps per day. Most smartphones can now count your steps too, but you need to keep it on you all day, which I know is an issue for women especially. Women’s work clothing needs bigger pockets!
Friends who have done the Couch to 5K programme said that it’s changed their lives. In addition I’d really recommend trying half an hour of yoga a few times a week and go from there. For something a bit more intense Fitbit makes a great app called Fitstar Coach that helps keep you motivated. It’s like a personal trainer on your phone!
The important thing is that it’s never too late to start, and any exercise at all is going to help.
Thank you for motivating and inspirational answers!