Health and Fitness in the Business World
In today´s hectic era it is easy to forget about our health. This can be especially true in the world of business, where competition is high and this brings about high amounts of stress, long working hours, and a long time spent hunched over staring at computer screens.
What most people do not realize is that this lifestyle is not sustainable and leads to many health issues down the road. Did you ever skip lunch a couple of times due to deadlines, meetings, or other responsibilities? Have you ever had trouble sleeping? Has your back or pelvis been bothering you? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it should raise a red flag. The questions are very general and there are a lot of other factors at hand which will be discussed further.
It is only until recent times that we have entered an era where almost everything is available to us. This has brought the so-called „Diseases of affluence“, also known as „Western diseases“. Overeating, undereating, bad nutrition, lack of exercise, and stress are the primary causes of these diseases, which can include, among others, type 2 diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, depression, and rheumatism. These are not the only causes of said diseases, but our unhealthy lifestyles have increased their occurrence.
The 3 main pillars of a healthier lifestyle are nutrition, exercise, and stress management. Make sure you consider them, as health is arguably the most important thing in life. As a disclaimer, in order to obtain a full and personal diagnosis, do not hesitate to contact a local nutrition specialist or personal trainer! There is so much information that could be told, but it would make this publication have hundreds of pages and each individual has different needs and tastes.
As a personal trainer, whenever a client wishes to gain or lose weight, nutrition makes up 60-70% of the effort, 20-30% is exercise and the rest is nutrition timing and fitness supplements like for example fat burners and so on. This should also apply to everyone else! Even if you do not have a fitness goal, our bodies are complex biological machines that need the right fuel to run properly. What would happen to your car if you only used the lowest quality fuel and didn´t drive it properly?
The main cruxes are a lack of time, low-quality foods, simple carbohydrates, „bad“ fats, and irregular eating.
- Plan ahead – the best solution is to plan your meals ahead of time. Plan your breakfast the day before, make a healthy home-made meal and bring it to work, plan your work to allow you a lunch break. As a rule of thumb, make sure your meals contain complex carbohydrates (rice, pasta, couscous, oats, whole-grain bread, and more), protein (meat, fish, cheeses and yoghurts, lentils, soy, and more), and some fats in their natural state (nuts, drizzle of olive oil on your salad, butter, cheeses and yoghurts, and eggs). Avoid simple carbohydrates (white bread, pastries, and sugar overall) and fried foods.
- Avoid fast foods and sugar – fast foods and sugar are a solution to the stressful days where you only have a couple of minutes to eat. Fast foods and sugary treats will, unfortunately, include low-quality fats, high amounts of sugar, little presence of vitamins and minerals, and the meals will be easily digested, spiking your insulin and then quickly dropping. This means that you will soon after be hungry again. If you are relegated to eating in restaurants, find one that serves healthier meals with the aforementioned complex carbohydrates and high quality protein sources prepared without the use of excess oil.
Most modern jobs come with the disadvantage of sitting down in front of a computer. This does not do our bodies well, as this causes certain muscles in our body to weaken and other muscles to shorten, which causes muscle imbalances, especially in the thoracic and lumbar spine area. Most of us will lie in bed for 6 – 8 hours, then sit for about an hour in a car or public transport on the way to work, at work we will sit for 8 hours, then the hour of travel again, and at home we will probably sit or lie in a couch until bedtime. Exercise is not only important to counteract the imbalances, but also to improve our cardiovascular health.
- Take the high road – if you are able to walk or bike to work without it heavily impacting your routine, you should consider it. When faced with an elevator or stairs, think first about taking the stairs. Simply enough, when you have the choice between movement and no movement, always try to consider movement first and do it!
- Create or join groups – join an exercise group at your local gym! You might enjoy it and meet new people. You can also create a group with your co-workers and exercise together or join a gym or class together! The possibilities are there.
- Hire a personal trainer – this will be the best option, as a high-quality personal trainer should prepare a personalized nutrition plan for you, and help you get rid of and prevent your muscle imbalances.
In the world of business, it is easy to get lost in routines of deadline to deadline, and project to project. It is not easy to avoid stress, unfortunately, it will always be present, but there are ways to reduce it. Stress can lead to sleep deprivation, burnout, mood swings, and depression.
- Time management and planning – it is important to manage your time during the day, week, and month. Plan your meetings and responsibilities! This way you can prevent or lower the stress of deadlines and the stress of forgetting.
- Rest, meditation, and breathing – rest is highly underestimated, but having at least 6 – 8 hours of sleep each night will go a long way to improve your health. Meditation can also be a solution, as it helps you relax and take your mind off the stress. Lastly, you can learn a few breathing exercises that will help you calm your nerves and provide your brain with enough oxygen to make a good decision.
- Enjoy the small things – this is tied to your hobbies, helping a stranger out with small problems, petting a dog or cat on the street, and much more! Life is all about the little things and the magical moments, do not forget to enjoy them!
Author: David Bechny, LIGS University