When it's a job to stay trim

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Dr Sally Norton, UK health expert and NHS weight-loss surgeon, discusses whether your workplace could be making you fat.

Wherever you work, spending eight plus hours of your day there is going to have a huge impact on your health, eating and fitness habits. Here are three common working environments and ideas on how to stay healthy as you work:

Eat at your desk

OFFICE WORKER

Is your job office-based? Are you chained to your desk eight hours a day? Many of us are so snowed under at work we are regularly eating our lunch at our desk… and sometimes even breakfast, too. However, more hours in front of the computer doesn’t mean more productivity.

Taking a break away from the screen, especially to take some exercise, will give you an energy boost and mean you actually get more done when you are at your desk. Ditto eating a balanced meal at midday – we know from research that stress can encourage us to reach for high-fat and high-sugar foods, but making sure you eat a healthy lunch will keep that mid-afternoon slump at bay.

Also consider whether your colleagues are helping or hindering your healthy goals. Often habits are shared among team members – the “communal biscuit tin” or group pub lunch. If that’s the case, stay strong and be the one that introduces new, healthy habits – your colleagues will soon be thanking you when they see the benefits of binning the junk.

 

NIGHTSHIFT WORKER

Lack of sleep has been proven to be directly linked to our cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods; bad news for nightshift workers. It is perfectly understandable to reach for a bar of chocolate in the twilight hours when your body is desperately telling you to go to sleep, yet you still have another five hours on the clock.

Working night shifts completely throws your body clock out of sync, not to mention your mealtimes and chance of exercising.

If you work nightshifts, getting a solid block of sleep is crucial, regardless of what time it is. Ensure that your day-time commitments leave you enough time to get the rest you need and, even if they are not at conventional times, try to structure regular meals to allow your body to adjust.

If you know food offerings are unhealthy at your workplace, come prepared with nutritious snacks, and badger your employer to provide healthier options – don’t put up with being fobbed off with junk food, just because it’s the convenient option.

work from home

WORK FROM HOME

You’d think working from home would give us the most control over our eating and fitness habits. Wrong. Working from home can often mean far too easy access to the fridge, leading to regular snacking that has been proven to be detrimental to our waistlines.

Those who work from home often put in longer hours than those who do a regular 9-5 as they are never “not at work”, meaning longer sedentary hours.

Like office workers, getting out and active, either before you start your working day or during a lunchtime break, will ensure you boost your productivity and will get your work done so you can finish at a reasonable time.

Make the most of working from home and have a stew bubbling away in the background, or a batch of soup, ready for when you take a break.

Try and maximise your active time, even when you’re working. Take a walk when you’re on the phone, or even a 10-minute walk can really help if you are suffering from writer’s block. Getting a pedometer or fitness tracker can really help keep your activity goals on track; some even buzz to warn you that you’ve been inactive for too long.

Working from home can be isolating too – leading to boredom or low mood. Why not meet up with other people in a similar industry for a weekly walk – networking and getting you fit in one go.

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