How to stay healthy if you're stuck in an office
Ideally, we'd all hit the gym in our lunch break, but how realistic is that?
Luckily, experts say there are plenty of simple tweaks you can make to your working day to contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
GET A BAND AND EXERCISE WHILE YOU TYPE
It's all about being creative with your time and work space, according to personal trainer Aaron Boslem. Get a stretch band from the physio or sports store, and have a little workout with it.
There are a tonne of exercises you can do, such as lunges with the band under your foot and looped over your shoulder. Or wrap the band around your back and along your extended arms, and bring your hands together as if giving a hug.
Who knows, you might even start an office trend.
Standing desks are a way of breaking the mould of sitting at the desk all day, says Boslem, who also advises having a face-to-face catch-up while walking around the block.
In the age of wireless communication, having a meeting over the phone means you can chat while strolling down a hallway too, he says.
Boslem swears by wearable activity trackers, especially the ones that you can set to vibrate when you've been sitting for too long.
"Set yourself a step target for the day of 8,000 - 12,000 steps and try and make yourself achieve that.
"There's a lot of good research out there that working towards 10,000 steps a day can do a lot to move body weight and keep yourself active."
DON'T DE-STRESS WITH SUGAR
A passive-aggressive email from your boss can derail a day of otherwise sensible eating.
Low level stress can trigger "emotional eaters", says Dr Jasmine Thomson, lecturer at Massey University's School of Food and Nutrition. This is when people eat as a response to negative emotions, not because they're hungry.
Boslem explains that tense situations lead to an increase in levels of cortisol, "the stress hormone", which helps heighten insulin levels, so your blood sugar drops and you begin to crave sugar-packed, fat-laced foods, such as cookies and burgers.
The best way to not cave in to stress is to engage in mindful exercise that focuses on breathing, such as yoga or tai chi. If you're lucky enough to have a company chill-out space, a gym in your complex or a park nearby, don't just go for a walk — aim to full on de-stress yourself.
Slow, mindful chomping is just as healthful as a quick yoga sesh. Working through lunch at our desks means that, besides staying sedentary, we're not focusing on our food, Thomson explains.
This makes us more prone to overeating because we're not paying attention to when we're full. It means we're not enjoying it as much either, she says.
EAT FAT AT 3PM
A decrease in insulin around this time of the day means you're likely to crave energy drinks and sweet snacks. These are not only fattening but also "the last thing you need, as they won't sustain you", says Boslem.
"Best thing is 'fats for fuel' — nuts, avocado, tuna on rice crackers. High-fat content has a higher energy count, so you'll get more bang for your buck when it comes to food."
Fruit is also a great option, adds Thomson, as it's nutritious and packed full of fibre, which means slow-release energy.
BRING IN YOUR LUNCH
Registered nutritionist Bek Parry, who runs Bek Parry Nutrition, says "bringing a home-packed lunch allows an individual to fully control what is in the food".
"Ideally they will bring in about a palm-sized portion of protein, alongside some healthy carbohydrate sources and vegetables or salad."
Thomson also suggests that a well-balanced bento-style box is a great way to go. She recommends snacks like almondsand a wholegrain sandwich, because low GI, complex carbohydrate keeps you feeling full for longer, avoiding a diet-destroying sugar binge. Plus, you can visualise what you're eating, and take stock of what is going into your body.