how to be healthy at work: from super snacks to desk exercises.

Combining work, exercise and a healthy diet can be a difficult balancing act for workers facing long hours and busy lifestyles. Healthy snacks, office exercises and homemade lunches are some of the ways you can curb bad habits and keep healthy in the workplace and also prepare your body for post-work exercise.

This week, the average full-time worker in the UK will clock up almost 38 hours for their employer but a quarter of adults will do fewer than 30 minutes physical activity. Now that people are living and working longer than ever before, workplaces are becoming increasingly aware of the need to be fit.

Five ways to keep healthy at work

Healthy snacks

It’s often thought that snacking in between meals leads to weight gain but in fact the right ones can help weight loss. Not only do they help deter you from reaching for junk food but they also keep your energy and concentration levels consistent. Look for ones containing complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats that have about 100 calories in. 

Tip: try mixed nuts, dried fruits and hummus and in the morning, granola and natural yoghurt.

Homemade lunches

Around 25% of the workforce take their own food to work and the consensus of health and nutrition professionals is that you’ll eat much better if you plan ahead. Finding the time to make lunch is not always easy but knowing what goes into your meal helps you cut out bad ingredients. It also helps your portion control. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are especially good to keep the mind active and enhance your memory.

Tip: aim to make something containing with fibre, protein and complex carbs like brown rice or sweet potato. 

Breathe!

This may sound obvious but being relaxed at work helps productivity and reduces anxiety, which can impact sleep and ability to exercise. 

Tip: Breathe deeply into the bottom of your stomach (diaphragm) then breathe out slowly, repeating for at least one minute. Close your eyes if you can, and try to take deeper, slower and longer breaths every time. Don't hold your breath, but keep it moving as you relax your body and let the tension slip away. Try taking 3 times longer to expel your breath as you do to inhale. This slows the heart beat and enhances a relaxed state.

Workplace stretches

Not all jobs enable you to get up on your feet and take a short wander but being mobile is important. So too is stretching, which relaxes muscles that may have become tense. 

Tip: One of the best stretches is the "cat pose". Sit on the edge of your chair, resting your hands on your knees. Rock your spine forward, squeezing your shoulders forward as you create a slump in your back. Hold the position for a second or two, and then sit up tall bringing your shoulders all the way down. Repeat this process until you feel your back relax.

Office exercises

If you work in an office and are struggling to get away from your desk, there are dozens of discreet ways of being active while working on your six-pack. 

Tip: On a deadline, simple leg extensions while sat down will strengthen your core. Calve raises can be done holding onto the back of your chair and if you’ve got a mobile phone or headset, take calls stood up or while walking.

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