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Health and wellness tips for the busy working individual

David Last on why your mental health is just as important as your physical.

Image: Shutterstock/LDprod

I RECEIVE A LOT of emails and feedback from readers and after breaking down the questions you ask, it is clear that a lot of you are coming from a busy, working environment where it’s difficult to balance the work and exercise conundrum.

Over the last 18 months, I have been invited into companies to talk about the importance of looking after your health and fitness both inside and outside of a busy office environment.

I must say it really is great to see some big organisation take a genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of their staff and that should be the way. Long gone are the days when wellness packages are an extra bonus with many now offering this to everyone.

The importance of wellness, health and fitness both to the individual and the company itself cannot be understated. We now live in fast paced environment that really can swallow you up if you don’t take certain steps in getting on top of it.

Work can be good for our health. It provides many of us with self esteem,social inclusions and, of course, financial reward.

However, it can also bring on high pressure, stress, burnout, mental health challenges and so on. Like I have said before fitness to me isn’t just about going to the gym, lifting weights or even eating your broccoli. There is a far broader range from both your physical to your mental fitness.

Below are a couple of tips and advice I would encourage people to take on board that find themselves in a busy working lifestyle and who want to find the right balance.

Every office worker should do basic stretches

Source: David Last/YouTube

We all are spending more and more time sitting at our desks which can have a detrimental effect on your physical wellbeing.

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

Each time I go in and speak to companies, the first bit of useful information I try and hammer home is highlighting the importance of looking after your mobility.

In the above video I give very simple solutions that everybody can do from their desk. This information is not just for the fitness individual but really for everyone. All you need is a 5-10 minute pocket of your day to try some of these drills and this can only help you stay on top of things.

Make use of mobility tools in and around your training sessions

Source: David Last/YouTube

In last week’s article I gave you simple tools that you help your posture, mobility and flexibility.

I always recommend that people bring in mobility tools like resistance bands, foam rollers and lacrosse balls in and around their training sessions before or after a working shift.

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.

The information below is quite useful for those that find themselves doing both ends of the spectrum — spending a large chunk of their day sitting down at work and then spending a good amount of time training outside the office hours.

There will be times you are going to feel quite tight, stiff or sore over the course of the working week and the simple steps above can only help you counteract them.

Spend time developing your mental fitness

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

Like I said before fitness to me 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 routine.

As a trainer who visits companies quite often I have seen the huge benefit when applying some mental fitness aspects in a busy working environment. It is quite normal to see people feeling the effects from a busy working week. This can really all catch up on you and if not looked after can bring in many issues towards your wellness and health.

Bringing in things like mindfulness, yoga or even meditation are areas that can improve your stress levels, fatigue or burnout. A healthy mind helps a healthy body.

Doing things that help the brain slow down, destress and unwind are vital and often sacrificed in favor of more “fitness-focused” activities.

“SLOW down to SPEED back up again”

A quote I use quite a lot in this column and a phrase I find myself using almost every day when working alongside clients and companies.

Throughout the course of the working week we are more than likely chasing deadlines and generally going about things with a great intensity.

It’s quite common to hear people saying they don’t have the time for this or that and I see them almost living off fast quick-fixes to push them through their working day.

As a result of that we see a surge in demand for quick-fixes such as fast lunches, junk food and coffee to keep you going. 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.

Slowing down can really mean anything here.

On your lunch break aim to get a 15-20 minute walk in, cycle to work instead of driving, or even perhaps try get some of the 5-10 minute stretching exercise in on your lunch break — you need to make time for the priorities and slowing down every now and then is certainly one.

Nowadays I see people focusing on a lot on speed in their training. You need to listen to your body more and assess what is the best training approach on that particular day.

Sure, it’s good to get the heartrate up in some training sessions but not all the time. Have value in the basics and perhaps the less vigorous options too. Drink water, listen to the body, walk, stretch and slow down very now and then.

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.

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