Small lifestyle changes that can make a BIG difference to your health

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Small lifestyle changes that can make a BIG difference to your health

Exercising the office demons

More than a third of office workers spend just an hour or less on exercise a week, new research shows.
A study carried out by Age UK suggests that nearly one in ten (9%) admit they do no exercise at all.

One in seven adults go a whole month without taking a walk of at least 10 minutes – and that figure rises to about one in four in some areas of the country, official figures suggest.

Inactivity has been described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health.

Spending hours sitting down watching TV or playing computer games is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.

Even more sedentary activities which can have a positive impact on well being, such as reading a book or doing a crossword, are also being squeezed, with nearly half (48%) of time-short workers devoting just an hour or less every week to such activities.

Taking time out to manage stress comes at the biggest price for time-poor office workers, with over half (52%) admitting to spending no time at all on mental well being activities such as practising mindfulness, meditation, or other stress-relieving activities.

Despite the strain that stress can take on the mind and body both now and in the future, just under a third (27%) make an effort to recognise the signs of stress and take action to deal with it, the research shows.

Trying to walk as much as possible, be it walking around the office as much as work allows, going for a walk on your lunch break and taking the stairs instead of the lift. Ideally getting up and walking around every hour should be the minimum requirement.

Getting the right nutrition is crucial to your health and fitness but eating regularly and at the right time is just as important. Eating breakfast is shown to increase your metabolism but also without breakfast you’re more prone to eating fatty foods and snacking in between times.

Drinking between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day can promote weight loss, there are numerous other benefits to drinking water throughout the day such as improving concentration:

Discover the top 5 healthiest breakfast cereals; why you should add more colour to your plate; and the health benefits of a daily walk.

Leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard as most people think.

You don’t have to spend countless hours in the gym or live off lettuce and water to stay in shape.

Here are three simple things you can do on a daily basis to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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The 5 healthiest breakfast cereals

Breakfast is widely-regarded as the most important meal of the day. And it’s also important to eat a healthy breakfast.

You could start your day with a hearty bowl of cereal. But since there are so many available, it’s difficult to work out which ones are good for you, and which ones are loaded with sugar.

Here’s a list of the top five healthiest cereals, according to the British Heart Foundation.

1. Porridge
Porridge oats are wholegrains and therefore contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which can help lower your cholesterol. Plus there’s no added sugar or salt.

2. Muesli
Muesli with no added sugar or salt contains a mixture of grains, fruit, and nuts. So as well as providing you with beta glucans, muesli also contributes towards your five-a-day depending on the fruit content of the brand you choose.

3. Shredded whole wheat cereal
This cereal is high in fibre, and doesn’t contain any added sugar or salt. Be wary of shredded whole wheat cereal with fruit fillings, though, as these may contain added sugar. Choose plain shredded wheat and add fresh fruit instead.

4. Bran flakes
Bran flakes are a wholegrain cereal, which means they are high in fibre which aids digestion as well as your heart health.

5. Cornflakes
While lower in fibre compared to wholegrain cereal, cornflakes have added vitamins and minerals which are good for your overall health. You could always add a piece of fruit to make the breakfast more filling, and to ensure you’re getting enough fibre.

Put some colour on your plate

You’ve had your bowl of healthy cereal for breakfast, so what can you eat for lunch and dinner?

If you find yourself eating bland, fried food all too often, then your health could benefit from adding more colour to your plate.

Here are some food suggestions and what health benefits they offer, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Tomatoes (Red)
Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which gives red fruits their colour. It’s thought to have antioxidant properties that may help protect against cardiovascular disease, and has been reported to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Sweet Potato & Carrots (Orange)
Sweet potatoes and carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which helps to keep your eyes healthy. Hence the old saying that carrots help you see in the dark.

Peach & Papaya (Yellow)
These fruits are sweet and bursting with flavour, and they happen to be rich in the antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin.

Broccoli, Cabbage & Kale (Green)
You’re told to eat your greens from a young age, and there’s a good reason why. Green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale contain sulforaphane, which may help protect against blood-vessel damage and certain cancers.

Beetroot (Purple)
Beetroot is rich in nitrates which may help reduce blood pressure. And the anthocyanins it contains – which gives it its purple colouring – are powerful antioxidants, which may have a role in protecting your cells from damage.

A simple way to get your daily exercise

You’ve discovered two simple ways to ensure your diet is healthy. Now, how about making sure you get regular exercise, too?

UK Chief Medical Officers say that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, like walking, every week.

But it’s surprising how some people think walking doesn’t really count as proper exercise. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

A report from The Ramblers, a walking charity, and Macmillan Cancer Support found that getting active through walking:

  • helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • increases ‘good’ cholesterol
  • reduces blood pressure
  • builds healthy bones and muscles
  • improves balance
  • reduces the risk of falls.

Here are five simple tips on how to fit a daily walk into your day:

1. Walk to work
Beat the stress of rush hour traffic by walking to work instead. Or if you use public transport you can leave the bus or train a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.

2. Take an active lunch break
Instead of sitting at your desk to eat your lunch, enjoy your lunch on the go and make the most of the fresh air.

3. Take the stairs instead of the lift
Say no to laziness and opt for the stairs instead of the lift whenever you get the chance.

4. Treat your dog
If you have a dog, take them for a longer walk than usual – or even treat them to two walks a day.

5. Find a partner
Need a little motivation to get you moving? Ask a friend or family member to join you. You can chat as you walk, and push each other to keep going if you start to feel tired.

Are eggs good for you? Read more, here