Expert Health Hacks with Alex Hardy.

13 Aug 2018

We are all about healthy and happy here… So, we asked renowned Exercise Physiologist & Exercise Scientist/Positive Psychology Expert – Alex Hardy, to share some wisdom:

Health Hacks with Alex Hardy

There are so many domains in our life that we need to balance to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Here are some simple, fast ‘hacks’ to ensure you get the most out of everyday!

We’ve all heard that our BODY is our temple – well it really is!

Body Hacks 

– Plan your shop before you hit the supermarket to avoid unhealthy additions to the trolley.

– Keep healthy snacks on hand, to avoid ‘fast food’ snacking splurges. Try having fruits or low-fat cheese cubes at your disposal.

– For the 2 fruit & 5 veggies that we require daily, try to opt for in season, fresh, organic and whole produce. In winter get your veggies packed into a hearty soup, which can be eaten as dinners, tomorrows lunch and will freeze.

– Pack a protein punch with a free range, Happy Chicken Egg a day. Not only will you get your vital amino acids, but eggs are also a natural source of healthy fats including omega-3 fats, Vitamin’s A, D, E & B12, antioxidants, choline and iron.

– Try to avoid snacking in the car or eating in front of a screen, as we underestimate our portion sizes if we are distracted. Can you think of a time you ‘accidently’ ate a packet of chips in front of the TV with such ease – the good news – you were distracted!

Hydration 

– 8 glasses a day (2 litres) is the key. Keep a reusable bottle next to your desk to remind you to up your hydration.

– Each time you have a tea or coffee – chase it with a glass of water. Our lovable teas and coffees do act as diuretics – so unfortunately, we can’t count our morning soy latte towards our water intake.

– Bribe yourself to drink more water. Add lemon, lime, fruit pieces to your water to spice it up and make you feel as though you are in a tropical oasis and you’re absolutely parched!

Exercise 

– Move it or lose it? Yes, it’s true.

– Be active every day. We all know the recommendations – 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days (60 minutes for weight loss), with the addition of strength-based exercise throughout the week. The key take-away – move more.

– Incidental increases in exercise compound over the day – so if you aren’t a hardcore gym junkie have a go at building into a routine that suits you over time. Something is better than nothing, so next time opt for the stairs.

– Use technology to your advantage – download a fitness app – there’s endless to choose from and hold yourself accountable.

– Take regular micro-breaks at work, WALK during these. Race to the printer, park the car further away, get off the bus one stop earlier and walk, try walking meetings or start a lunch time walking crew. Bathe in the fresh air and sunshine (which will in turn aid your sleep quality believe it or not).

…..which leads us to SLEEP.

Mind Hacks 

If our bodies are temples, then the mind must be the driver.

– Turn off screens 30 minutes before bed, so as not to suppress melatonin which affects sleep quality. Your circadian rhythm with thank you.

– Create a sleep routine, with predictable sleep and waking times and a night time winddown ritual such as meditation, journaling or stretching.

– Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and heavy meals in the evening – decaf anyone?

Leisure 

– Make time for whatever ‘relaxation’ or ‘hobbies’ means to you. Embrace and enjoy it.

– There is merit to going for nature walks. The Japanese even have a word for it- Forest Bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’.

– Try something new, learn a new skill, take a different driven route to Sunday lunch (your brain can practise some neuroplasticity that way), and most importantly have fun!

Work 

– The magical work life balance may seem allusive but try to keep stress at bay by practising regular mini breaks throughout each day, and mini- holiday breaks to recharge over the year. Finances too tight? Try a staycation.

– Practise assertive communication to ensure boundaries are maintained between work and life.

– Practise being present through mindfulness – maximise your time at work, have a quiet few deep breaths, then allow yourself to be present at home. Be present running after the dog, perhaps kids or even allowing yourself to enjoy your nightly yoga or jog without your thoughts being hijacked by minor work stressors.

Social 

– We are social beings by nature. Plan your schedule to allow for family, friends and community events. Plan to avoid disappointment.

– Get involved in the community, meet a neighbour – just say Hi! or even host a street party.

Now that we are healthy in our body and mind – we can pay it forward.

Spread kindness! 

– Practise a gratitude journal – each day write 3 things you are grateful for and watch the way you perceive the world change.

– Volunteer for a cause. Think the local food drive, the school canteen or get on a committee – find a cause you believe in and contribute passionately.

Then we will not only be healthy in body and mind, but we will also end up doing something good for the world.

By Alex Hardy
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Exercise Scientist (ESSA)
BHM, MClinicalExPhysiol(Rehab)

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