Holistic health: How to be healthy where you are
Staying fit and healthy while busy and on the move is tricky: ask any business traveller, holiday-goer or ad agency employee (or anyone stuck behind a desk for hours on end for that matter).
Our lives are busy and it’s usually our health that pays the price. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are travelling or sitting behind a computer all day, it’s no reason to leave your fitness goals behind. You see, we often underestimate the power of habit and routine. Once a habit is ingrained, it’s hard to break. That’s why it’s so important to build healthy habits or replace bad habits with good ones.
Here are some tips on how to be healthy wherever you may find yourself:
Start the day with a workout
If you’ve built a habit of exercising before you go to work, there’s no need to stop that when you travel. And if you haven’t such a habit, create it!
Your surroundings may look different, but your habits don’t have to change just because your environment changed.
Look for alternatives: Find out if there is a gym at the hotel you’re staying at, ask for recommendations about walking or running routes, or do a workout in your room. There are various exercises you can do that require no equipment.
Get moving: If you leave the house before dark in the mornings and really can’t fit in a workout before getting stuck behind a desk the whole day, make sure you build a habit of getting up regularly to stretch and take a quick walk. All you need to do is get your limbs moving and blood flowing.
Make small adjustments: Make a conscious decision to go to the bathroom on a different floor or to take the stairs instead of the lift. Not only will it force you to walk further than you would, but you might even get to have a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally bump into on your floor.
Follow the cloud: Another trick of brilliance involves smokers. Smokers often have to walk quite a distance, sometimes down one or two flights of stairs, to get to a designated smoking spot. And that’s just for one cigarette. Many smokers will have five or more cigarettes per day. So, why not join them as they walk out? You don’t have to stick around in their cancerous smoke cloud, but it’s an opportunity to get up and get moving. You’ll be surprised to find out just how much more smokers move during the day compared to non-smokers. you create a habit of accompanying someone every time they walk out, you get all the benefit and none of the lung cancer.
Experience your surroundings
If you often travel abroad for work, it’s easy to slip out of your workout routine. Many countries have such great public transport systems: you can easily hop on a metro train or on a bus. But many urban destinations also have bike share programmes. Consider renting a bike and taking a leisurely cycle to your meeting. If you are on holiday, rent a bike for an hour or two, and take a ride along a waterfront, in the park or another scenic part of town.
The New York Times notes that people who sit for more than eight or nine hours daily, are at heightened risk for diabetes, depression, and obesity compared with people who move more often. Continuously think about how you can include some activity on each day of your business trip or holiday.
If you happen to be visiting sites with scenic viewpoints, such as the rooftop of a building, a lookout point on a mountain, or the roof of a cathedral, climb the stairs to the top, if that’s an option. Just a couple of minutes of stair climbing will spike your heart rate, and you’ll have a stunning view as a reward.
About that fast food
Unfortunately, your health can’t take a holiday. We always need to be conscious of what food and drinks we put into our bodies – whether at work or on the road.
When travelling, it’s more convenient to attempt eating on a low budget, but that often results in fast food and unhealthy snacking. Instead of eating out, go to the grocery store and buy some healthy ingredients to prepare your own meals.
If you are sitting behind a desk or go from boardroom to boardroom, you need to focus on preparing in advance and packing nutritional lunch boxes to work. It’s too easy to call a takeaway restaurant to deliver when you’re ravishing and it’s equally easy to not eat at all. Neither is beneficial.
Also, try to avoid eating at your desk. If you eat at your desk while you work, you miss the “fullness” signals your stomach sends to your brain, so you’re prone to overeat. You’re also prone to miss the pleasure signals and aren’t able to really taste, enjoy and savour your food because your mind is actually focussed elsewhere.
It all comes down to building new habits.
When you build a habit, your brain creates a well-used synaptic pathway and once that habit is formed it can’t be broken. When the habit is repeated, the synaptic pathway is used. A habit becomes natural when the pathway is continually accessed as it becomes easier for synaptic impulses to travel along those pathways.
How long does it take? Nope, not 21 days as you might think. Researchers have found that it takes about 66 days to move from behaviour to habit.
It might become weak when we stop using the pathway, but it doesn’t go away. If the habit is repeated again and the pathway is used again, it will get stronger.
So, if you repetitively do something like working out first thing in the morning no matter where you are, or walking to the bathroom on the far end of the building, you’ll start creating commonly used synaptic pathways.
Once these pathways are established, you’ll soon be living a healthier lifestyle purely out of habit.
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