The health boom is upon us and, unlike many social fads, this one is a worthwhile investment. Being conscious of what you’re putting into your body, what you’re doing with it and how it is changing is essential to keep you healthy and functioning smoothly.
Being sedentary at work and at home can be linked to numerous medical health issues. Getting your body moving and being stationary less can have life-changing health benefits. Overall, experts say that 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week is enough to keep healthy - but this is by no means the maximum you should be striving for.
So, exactly how does being active help you?
Physical activity can prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression. Regular exercise in particular helps to strengthen the body, increase blood circulation and acts as a stress-relieving mechanism which helps to reduce anxiety.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to fork out for a gym membership - there are lots of great ways to get active and be healthy without dragging yourself into a busy gym. Physical activity can be as simple as carrying groceries to your kitchen or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
There is a common belief that in order to get physical exercise and burn calories, we have to get our bodies into a certain heart rate or certain zone. This is not the case, says Jaikic in his sedentary behaviour study, he argues that physical activity can be achieved through small choices and decisions.
Break that 150-minute goal down into more bite-size chunks - 30-minute walks thrice a week or three 10-minute walks thrice a week! It sounds a lot more achievable now.
We’ve covered getting those 150 minutes of regular exercise into your life, but that doesn’t cover all the things your body needs. Walking, running and swimming will get your heart pumping - but they simply do not include the entire range of movements our bodies need to maintain an optimal condition.
Exercises that prioritise increasing flexibility, balance and strength are equally as important as cardiovascular exercises.
Stretching is something we’ve all done in school and we might not have appreciated its importance. If you can remember some of some simple exercises, work them into your morning or nighttime routine. Stretching out your body can result in much greater freedom of movement, will make your daily activities more comfortable and quicken your recovery after exercise.
Balance training is also great to get started whilst you're young. Some people think that balance is something that you have or do not have - but just like any other skill, it has to be honed and developed. Getting a good balance will prove thoroughly beneficial as we age and a fall becomes a life-changing matter rather than a laughing one.
Identify the Right Weight for you
Staying at a healthy weight significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight can also lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and an increase in the likelihood of other health risks, including depression.
So, how do you go about losing weight?
Weight loss is all about an energy balance. The amount of energy (calories) you get from food and drink should be balanced with the amount of energy you burn through daily activities.
If your energy input is the same as your energy output, your weight will stay the same. More energy input than output will result in weight gain and, finally, more energy output rather than input will result in weight loss.
In order to have a healthy weight, it isn’t necessary to undergo a caloric deficit every day. It is more important and more sustainable to ensure that over a period of days you have weight loss days as well as energy balance days. Think about it in these terms - on one day choose to have a calorie deficit of 200 calories - and the following day choose to have an energy balance day (no deficit or surplus).
This is far easier to maintain and you will still be losing weight over time. If you can supplement this with physical activity then that will make the process a lot faster.
Think About What You’re Eating!
Healthy eating is probably the most important task for weight control, so what is the best diet for weight loss and healthy living? A great website is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (although it applies to everyone), this website lays out what all of us need to take in, as well as what to limit and avoid altogether.
Here are some of the main takeaways for you:
Added Sugars - try to limit your intake of added sugars, which is the extra sugar added to our food and drink. Think about things such as honey, brown sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Avoid these items and items which include them - e.g. fizzy drinks!
Fats - fats are extremely high in calories and therefore you can eat a limited amount, but take in a lot of calories. Excessive fat intake can directly raise the chance of you developing heart disease so it's best to avoid it if you can. Try to consume liquid fats, like oils, rather than solid fats that are found in things such as cheese, butter or beef. Liquid oils like vegetable oil or corn usually consist of unsaturated fats.
Last of all, consistency is king when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Stopping and starting is not conducive to developing good habits and it is far better to aim low for a longer period of time, rather than having great days followed by terrible ones.
We hope this guide to mental health at work will improve your mood and demeanour inside and outside of work. Take note of some of these tips to get you feeling better and better as the days go by!