Healthy living for busy people

Mariam Ayman, Saturday 28 Sep 2019

Busy working days and a healthy body can go hand-in-hand if we just know how, writes Mariam Ayman

Long working hours are a trademark of our modern world, where we can easily spend almost eight hours in the office and two hours on crowded transport going back home, only to quickly eat something for dinner and then go to sleep so we can wake up early in the morning again to restart the everyday cycle. There is often no room for the gym, and this can make us lazy.

Yet, sacrificing health and well-being in favour of work is not the right decision. Because of my full-time job, I am always busy, and this can make me physically lazy as when I do have some leisure time I prefer to go out with friends or even sleep, ending up neglecting important aspects of my life such as health and fitness. It is then that I may suffer the consequences of exhaustion, tiredness, depression, bone problems and getting overweight.

“Lack of movement and exercise at a young age starting in the twenties can seriously affect your well-being both in the long and the short run,” said Shorouk Amer, a trainer and founder of the Slim & Tone Gym in Cairo. 

“In the long run, a lazy person can suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, cholesterol and a fatty liver by the age of 40. In the short run, it can affect productivity, cause fatigue and impact mood as well as self-confidence,” she added. As for people who already suffer from such chronic diseases, Amer believes that if they modify their lifestyles by doing some minimal exercise and following the right diet they will recognise a difference in their medical tests.

 Although you might think of it as a hard mission, it is not impossible to keep both your health and your work as priorities, and you can also enjoy the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle. “Doing a morning workout for five to 10 minutes at home without needing any equipment can help put you in good mood and relieve any stress. It can increase your focus and boost your energy and work productivity,” said Amer.  

“All you need is to choose five simple moves that will help you exercise most of your body’s muscles and divide up your time. For example, if you do a five-minute workout, there can be one minute jogging to warm up your muscles, two minutes for squats and lunges to move the lower body, one minute of push-ups or planks to move the upper body, and finally one minute of crunches to move the abdominal muscles.”

A mini-workout like this can have a very good impact on your blood circulation and hence your energy and the health of the internal organs as well, not to mention boosting your metabolism, which will help you lose unhealthy fat, increase your fitness, and have better digestion and stronger muscles. 

“Before starting this workout, you can have a small portion like half of a cup of honey to give you energy and some lemon to help increase your metabolism and break down fat,” Amer added.

However, working out without the right eating habits can make you feel that the results are very slow in coming, and you may get frustrated. The right diet or the right way to eat differs from one person to another according to weight and the body’s needs for carbohydrates, oils and fats, vitamins, protein and so on. Common wrong eating habits are to eat manufactured snacks and junk food.

“During working hours, we might often search for the easiest thing to silence our hunger, so we buy packed biscuits or sweets or eat crisps or even worse order junk food. But all of these contain preservatives, artificial colours and dangerous hydrogenated oils and fats that can affect the metabolism, lead to a certain level of addiction, and result in the accumulation of dangerous fats,” Amer explained.

However, you can replace such snacks with fruit, vegetables and nuts, or even homemade biscuits or cake, she added. Junk meals can be replaced either by healthier ones consisting of sauté veggies, steamed rice and grilled protein. If you love chips, it is better to have them home made as you will be more cautious about the ingredients of a meal you have prepared yourself.  

There are also many fitness applications that you can download to your phone to help you start a five-minute fitness programme. Many of them show you the moves to make and how to do them and feature an on-screen stopwatch.

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