How to stay healthy in your job and still be a top performer

Many employees spend more than ten hours a day sitting at one place. Due to heavy traffic and the workload in some occupations, their diets are poor too. This sedentary lifestyle has dangerous consequences, including heart conditions, kidney complications, and a poor family time. Luckily, there is enough to do in order to reverse the tide without spending much in time and resources.

The greatest struggles many young workers have in Ghana is how to find the right work-life balance. Poor roads and rickety vehicles make commute inherently dangerous. Add to this to the number of hours people spend between the commute and their jobs, and you have very few hours at your disposal to pursue any healthy habit. Despite this grim situation, there is still hope. Here are 4 tips on staying healthy in your regular job.

1.    Do 30 minute cardio in or around the house

Your lifestyle choices are sometimes forced on you. In addition to working 8 to 9 hours a day, you spend another three to five hours in traffic depending on where you stay. These long hours are mostly spent sitting at one place; this is not good for the body. To fix this, include a half hour, daily workout in your routine.

a.      Skip ropes once a while

Running is an excellent cardio exercise. If you have the chance to run for thirty minutes in your neighbourhood, do it. Otherwise, a simple skipping rope can do wonders for you. 20 minutes of skip ropes burns approximately 200 calories, according to research. In addition, skipping works on your knees and hips. If you have underlying problems and or feel hurt while skipping, stop immediately. If you have knee problems, then walking briskly for thirty minutes can do wonders. It exerts less pressure on your knees but can keep the heart and lungs pumping at the right tempo.

b.      Undertake indoor cardio

You can also opt out for an indoor cardio exercise. You don’t need a lot of room or expensive equipment to do this; just the space between your bed and the door is enough. A combination of push ups, sit ups, stationary sprints, jump lunges, squats, and crunches can yield amazing results for your heart. This might mean waking up a little earlier so that you don’t miss your ‘trotro’ from Lapaz to Accra Central. Alternatively, you can work this into your evening routines.

2.    Workout in the office

It is not a good thing to sit for four continuous hours at work. Long hours of inaction can affect your metabolism, the process of processing food to release energy. This is why you feel drowsy after a while of inactivity. Sitting for long hours can also affect your back if you don’t have the right chair and desk to maintain the right posture while sitting.

a.      Walk about the office

To get around this, walk around your office after about 90 minutes of sitting. Yes, the typical Ghanaian will talk when they see you walking ‘aimlessly’ about. But they will also talk when you develop a stoop because you sat for too long at your desk. Also, sitting for long hours a day can increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

b.      Do stretches

Walk to your colleague’s desk instead of sending an email or a quick chat via Slack or Google Hangouts Chat to give yourself an excuse to get out of your chair. Also, do stretches to loosen the muscles in your arms and back. There are easy exercises that don’t require much space: stand upright and flex your neck in 360° angle; lean against the wall in a standing position with one knee dipped slightly forward while stretching the calf of the other leg; do squats; swing your waist round and round and see how much zest you will get in your life for the rest of the day.

3.    Watch your diet

Your diet is the most important element in staying healthy. Running two kilometres everyday will not be useful if you visit the ‘check-check’ joint three times a day. As nutritionists have pointed out, the breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It helps restore your energy after your body has been starved for six to eight hours in the night. Never skip it; a cup of porridge with koose is a good enough breakfast.

a.      Eat a balanced diet

You need a balanced diet to live healthy throughout the day. Imagine a breakfast of ricewater sweetened with sugar and milk, a lunch of rice and chicken, and a dinner of fufu at 6pm. No need to even talk about how bad the last one is. But it is easy to see how the day’s meals are heavy on carbs. Eating late can lead to heart conditions in addition to causing you to gain weight.

Because you may get home late due to heavy traffic, it is important to plan ahead and eat small bits of food before you reach home. The idea is to make sure you are not ravenous when you get home. If you are already half-full at 7 pm, you are less likely to eat a whole bowl of banku. And so to make up for your late and early morning commutes, incorporate small bits of foods into your diets instead of a one-time heavy meal.

b.      Eat fruits and vegetables

Add fruits to your diets too, as they fortify your immune system. It might feel tedious and difficult to do if you are not used to eating vegetables. Start by adding a tangerine to your breakfast, an orange to your lunch, and an avocado to your rice. Buy lots of salad or leaves when you eat wakye. Of course, don’t go buying vegetable mixes from every food seller unless you are sure you won’t end up adding gems to your system. Keep an orange around always. Also, keep a tangerine or banana on the table in the house; seeing it all the time will remind you that you have to eat a fruit. Eat a finger of banana as snack instead of a bottle of soft drink. Cut down on sugars; replace with honey if possible.

c.      Drink water always

Compliment this by drinking a lot of water throughout the day. Water helps blood transport nutrients through your body. Water is equally important for your kidneys because it produces a lot of urine which can flush your urinary tract of infectious bacteria and kidney stones. Don’t wait till you are thirsty before you drink water. If your urine is dark yellow, you are not drinking enough water. Add a dash of orange or lime to your water to make it tasty to drink. You can make it a habit to drink half a glass of water every couple of hours; in eight hours, you would have drank four glasses. Keep a bottle of water at your table at the work place to be a constant reminder.

4.    Sleep well

Different researchers have offered varied responses on how many hours an adult requires every night. Many have put it between 6 and 9 hours. The Sleep Foundation encourages sleep schedules; strive to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. A good night’s sleep ensures you wake up rejuvenated.

a.      Invest your money and time safely to have a good night’s sleep

One reason why people have sleepless nights is if they have money or investment problems. Make sure you are doing business with the right people; avoid cutting corners, investigate any investment venture to make sure they are not a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme, and make sure you put your money in a venture that will allow you to sleep soundly at night.

b.      Stress can affect your mental health

Sleep deprivation has dangerous consequences. The increased stress can be detrimental to your mental health, leading to long term effects that are difficult to come out of. Given that Ghana suffers a dearth of psychiatric health institutions and professionals, it is important to be proactive in protecting yourself to avoid future breakdowns. Make sure you are not taking caffeine-rich foods like coffee close to bedtime.

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