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29 Tips for executive health & performance

When it comes to making healthy (or not) choices, there are many habits that busy individuals fall into over the years. We make decisions on how best to get through each day, but just because these decisions are appropriate at a specific time doesn’t mean they’re the choices that bring us optimum performance for the long-term.

Think about decisions as simple as skipping lunch to hit a deadline, loading up on caffeine and burning the candle at both ends to complete a project, or sidestepping the gym in order to attend an important meeting

These things happen once or twice for good reasons but then gradually, they can become the norm and we soon start feeling as though the balance of our routine isn’t where we want it to be.

In most cases, staff are simply too busy to pause to consider if there could be a better way to run their daily routine. An advantage of a corporate wellbeing programme is that it provides the opportunity to help people target simple behaviour changes that enable them to achieve the same results, or maybe even take their performance to the next level, while ensuring less stress, more energy, better sleep and an improved sense of work-life balance and all round feel-good factor.

So, for all those in need of some inspiration, motivation and practical advice to sharpen up their health, wellbeing and performance for 2014, here are 29 simple tips to consider in your office.

1. Regular activity is key for long-term results

For busy workers it’s far better to be realistic and complete 1 or 2 quality workouts per week, every week, than to aim to exercise 4-5 times a week and then end up squeezing activity in when you’re distracted, wasting energy on ineffective training time, or feeling that you’ve let yourself down if you don’t manage to fit in everything you planned. Bear this in mind when thinking about New Year resolutions and plan to feel great for the entire year, not just for the first two weeks of January!

2. For dramatic results, be consistent

Remind everyone that even a small amount of daily activity can create a positive mindset, and that completing a couple of exercise sessions each week will add up to 100 workouts a year. That’s enough to keep anyone feeling positive about their fitness routine, and achieve great results.

3. Work hard, get faster results

Higher intensity exercise, practiced regularly, leads to faster results. You can explain this to staff in your wellbeing material but even better than that is to organise some fitness sessions that illustrate the point in an enjoyable and memorable way.

4. Keep it varied, keep it interesting

Many people stop exercising simply because they get bored with a single approach. Give staff access to a range of ideas – resources and practical demonstrations – that will show them how to keep their activity schedule interesting and effective.

5. Be clear on individual objectives and specific deadlines

Most people have vague ideas about what they’d like to achieve with their wellbeing. Providing staff with regular coaching and advice will really help them firm up these vague ideas, get to the heart of why they want to make changes, inject motivation into their aims and ensure they put together an effective plan to achieve them.

6. Join a group or team

Whether it be office colleagues or friends outside of work, planning to exercise with others can be a key factor for many in making sure workout sessions actually take place. Training with a group makes exercise more of a social event, strengthens the commitment to make it happen and can increase the element of enjoyment hugely.

7. Prioritise quality over quantity

Time may be short for exercise but as little as 5 or 10 minutes a day can make a difference if the time is used wisely. Providing staff with a range of time-efficient workouts will really make a difference to what they feel they are capable of and how they plan exercise into their schedule.

8. Fit activity into every day

Encourage staff to walk, stretch, and practice deep breathing throughout each day. This not only provides a quick break to re-invigorate body and mind, but also helps people feel they are making regular efforts to optimise their wellbeing which keeps them on track in other areas such as healthy eating, managing stress and ensuring quality sleep.

9. Develop body and mind

Help staff experience a full range of activities from fitness and team sports to yoga, Pilates and massage. A balanced wellbeing programme will keep them physically fit and help prevent injury while stimulating the brain to a variety of states ranging from dynamic and energetic to calm and relaxed.

10. Drink more water

It’s a message people hear often but it’s always worth reiterating. Good hydration means consistent energy and improved concentration. Provide everyone with easy access to water and regular reminders to drink it.

11. Eat breakfast

The way people begin their day can set the mood until bedtime. Skipping breakfast or making poor choices can compromise concentration levels and increase stress. A good breakfast is the foundation for a calm and productive day.

12. Monitor portion sizes

Too much of any food at one sitting will stress your digestive system and leave you feeling lethargic. Slow down and tune into how much food your body actually needs at various points throughout the day.

13. Reduce sugar intake

Too much sugar creates inner turmoil and can aggravate stress levels leaving you less able to cope with a busy day. Get familiar with where sugar comes from in your routine and moderate your intake.

14. Fuel yourself regularly

Grazing throughout the day on well-chosen meals and snacks stabilises energy levels and is the most effective strategy for weight management.

15. Make a plan and follow it

Help individuals establish what a good food routine looks like for them and then provide the resources they need to follow this routine. Simple information on how to plan recipes, prepare a selection of meals, and shop effectively can save staff time, anxiety and money.

16. Eat more protein

Protein keeps you fuller for longer and flattens out peaks and troughs in blood sugar and energy levels. Make sure nuts, seeds and lean meat protein or vegetarian alternatives are a regular part of your food routine.

17. A simple plan for 5-a-day