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The small things that have big health benefits

The reason many of us fail in the campaign to become fit and healthy is because of the complete overhaul we try to force on our lifestyle but instead of completely changing your lifestyle, Vincenzo Ferrara looks at how a few small changes can help you smash your goal.

There are many diets, fads and crazes that promise quick weight loss and drastic results, but in the long term these either result in a quick short-term fix or require us to completely change our lifestyle. For most people, this just isn’t possible to maintain around their actual life where work lives, children and socialising all come into play.

There are lots of different ways in which people can benefit their health with minimal effort, many of the below you will have been told a countless number of times but the fact is, they work.

Drink water: Try to drink at least two litres of water a day – it may sound like a lot of water to consume but if you’re smart about the way you rehydrate you’ll manage to do this effortlessly. By having a glass of water at key moments throughout your day, you’ll stay hydrated and are less likely to snack. The only downside we can see, is you might be taking a few more tips to the loo.

The optimum times we’ve found to have a glass of water during the day are:

  • In the morning, before breakfast or leaving the house.
  • Nurse a glass of water between when you get to work and lunchtime.
  • A glass of water over lunchtime.
  • Another glass of water to last between lunchtime and leaving work.
  • A glass of water when you arrive back home or before bed.

water from a bottle pouring into a glass

Get up from the desk: Staying fit and active is great when you aren’t at work but what are you meant to do during the eight or more hours where you are sat at your desk in an office. You can’t simply don some activewear and run laps around the desks while people are trying to concentrate on their jobs.

The best way we’ve found is to take regular short breaks from your desk and take a little stroll. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, just enough to get the blood flowing – going to the kitchen for a drink, going to the bathroom or walking over to discuss an email with someone instead of calling them on the phone from across the room.

Another useful way to keep fit in the office is to complete three-minutes of exercise during every hour you work. The idea is simple, once an hour has passed, stand to the side of your desk and try to complete as much exercise as you can within the allotted time. We’ve found doing simple activities such as: Press ups, sit ups, squats and planking are great as they can be done without disturbing the entire office and drawing too much attention.

Woman planking on a yoga mat in an office

Snacks: A big reason why people gain weight at work is because they become ‘snackers’ from boredom with, crisps, chocolate and biscuits all proving popular snacks that people eat between their meal times. When you are concentrating on your work, you don’t always notice the amount you’re consuming, thus eating a lot more than originally expected.

We aren’t going to tell you to stop snacking because we all need a boost of energy around late afternoon, especially when we’ve been having a tough day. What we recommend however is to change from crisps and sweets to a healthier alternative – nuts, fruit and popcorn.

A board of mixed nuts for someone to snack on

Don’t sit through your lunch: Lunch time gives people the perfect opportunity to do something a little different, instead of just being sat at their desks all day. We would suggest going to the gym during your lunch break, if and when possible, but for many people this isn’t always doable – especially if you commute to work.

A top way to keep physically and mentally fit is by taking a walk during your lunch time. Just 20 minutes at a reasonable pace can really help you recharge for the afternoon and keep your cardiovascular health up to scratch. Go alone or go with colleagues – either way you’ll start to discover new routes and areas around where you work that you might have missed. Just 20 minutes a day results to walking for one hour forty minutes of exercise a week.

A lady taking a walk past a yellow back drop

Make your meals: It may not come as a surprise to you that ready meals are stacked with salts, fats and sugars that have negative connotations on your health. Take away food is also renowned for being generally unhealthy and bad for you – with some exceptions. However, by simply making your meal at home, you’ll feel much more healthy and save yourself some money.

Lunch time meals can be as simple or complicated as you like. Many stick with the classic sandwich and snack combination they’ve enjoyed since their school days. While a lot of people will cook an extra portion with their evening meal to serve up for their lunch the next day. The super organised will bulk cook food at the weekend for that week’s meals. You’ll be surprised how much easier and cheaper it can be for you.

4 bowls of food pre prepared and brought into work environment

We’ve covered just some of the ways that people can keep themselves fit and healthy during the working day but if you have any hints, tips or tricks that keep you healthy, we’d love to hear from you, please contact us on twitter: @PALifeMag