January 31, 2017

Fitness

How to juggle a fit and healthy lifestyle with a busy working life

MANY PEOPLE SEEM to be spending more and more time sitting at their desks which can have a detrimental effect on their physical well-being.

Over the last few weeks I have been visiting companies and talking about the importance of looking after your health and fitness outside of a busy office and allowing time to focus on areas you need to work on.

It’s great to see companies bringing in workplace initiatives to help their employees become more aware of their health and fitness.

I’m a big believer in these initiatives as they tend to bring in two important factors — they encourage accountability and consistency of health/fitness in the workforce.

Overall this will lead to a healthier and happier workplace.

Time and time again I have seen work take over people’s lives which can bring on stress, fatigue, burnout and so on.

When this happens your fitness and overall health can be put on the back burner. There is also often then a surge in demand for quick-fixes such as fast lunches, junk food and coffee to keep you going throughout the day.

This will catch up on you over time and can lead to issues such as weight gain or loss, poor posture/mobility, and completely falling off the health and fitness bandwagon.

The majority of the clients I work with come from office-based environments and often demonstrate similar strengths and weaknesses.

Below I have highlighted four areas that a lot of the people I work with need to address.

1. Mobility

I talk about this a lot and in my opinion this is one of the factors that people need to look at first.

If you spend a lot of your day seated it can bring in many issues from poor posture, weak core, and tight and inactive parts of our body which can then lead to poor movement, lower-back pain, injury or burnout.

Everyone I train gets a mobility screen test done first and this is where I assess where the client needs work.

The majority of the time the same issues present themselves from tight upper back, rounded shoulders, tight hip flexors, hamstrings or inactive glutes.

I always recommend that people bring in mobility tools like resistance bands, foam rollers and lacrosse balls so that you can incorporate exercises that will help them out.

Exercises like banded pull-aparts, X-Band walks, and doing movements like the couch stretch and pigeon stretch daily will help keep you on top of the areas that need attention.

I’ve included a video below where you will see me use some of these tools and demonstrate some of those movements.

 

2. Training structure

I already talked about this in last week’s article. People who spend long hours in the office may struggle to find the time to get their planned workouts done.

If you are struggling to make time free then you should at least aim to do 15 minutes of daily body maintenance, as shown above.

However, if you can get in three sessions per week then you should be getting the most from those sessions by targeting the areas that need attention first.

A good basic structure I would recommend is: warm-up–>mobility–>strength–>conditioning–>extra work.

If you need more assistance with this, go and take a look at last week’s article.

3. Nutrition

This is a topic that can create a lot of controversy and first of all let me clarify that I am not a qualified nutritionist.

However, I have tried many different theories on the subject and the one that works best for me, and for a lot of my clients, is the 80/20 approach.

It’s important to remember too that what works best for me may not work best for you.

There are so many angles we can look at including paleo, vegan, weightwatchers, quick-fixes, juicing and even detoxes.

I would say that people generally need to allow more time to prepare their meals in advance if time is an issue on a day-to-day basis.

The most common dietary mistakes I see people making include not eating enough green, leafy vegetables, not getting enough protein, not drinking enough water and overall just not getting the basics right first.

Once you get the basics right and start to bring in real food like fresh meat, fish, vegetables, some fruit and limiting the amount of starch and sugar, then you look at calculating the amount of calories and macronutrients you need to hit your goal.

All of these calories and macro calculators can be found in another previous article.

4. Mental fitness/mindset

Physical fitness is very important but how you train and look after your mind is just as, if not more, important.

To me, fitness isn’t always about lifting weights, running or going under the bar to hit a heavy squat.

Spending time on your mindset is something I would encourage everybody to incorporate in their fitness routine.

As a personal trainer I have seen the huge benefit of this for some clients who are treating exercise as a path to help them with their own personal battles.

A lot of the time work and life can catch up with us and take over. I have seen this lead to fatigue, stress, burnout and mental health issues.

I recommend that all my clients find something that is going to help them slow down a little and overall this will really improve your mind, health and well-being.

Yoga, hiking and meditation are activities I have seen people get great benefits from.

Take up a new hobby, challenge or sport and get creative, switch off and start to embrace your artistic side; draw, play music or even get creative in the kitchen with your cooking.

A healthy mind helps a healthy body. Doing things that help the brain slow down, de-stress and unwind are vital and often sacrificed in favour of more fitness-focused activities.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can send me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.