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How to be Healthy with a Busy Schedule

healthy lifestyle for a busy schedule
Explore the challenge of maintaining health amidst busy schedules. Uniquely Health offers personalised solutions, including exercise, mindful snacking, daily activity, better sleep, and achievable goals, guided by a team of experts.

Written by Sabine Hoadley, Bsc (Hons), Lead Exercise Scientist

In the fast-paced world that we live, finding time to prioritise our health can sometimes feel like mission impossible. Work, family, stress, the variable UK weather and the cost-of-living crisis become just a small number of the many variables that sometimes get in the way of people wanting to put their health first.

Uniquely Health, founded on the principles of being personalised, data-driven and holistic, is here to help you find ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle, in ways that can be sustainable and long-term.

Here are 5 top ways that you can look to prioritise a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule.

 

1. Prioritise our exercise routine

Nearly half of British women and a third of men do not exercise, a survey of 8000 UK adults has found (1)

Exercise is one of the key principles of longevity, and not just that, but quality of life. Exercise can partially reverse the effects of ageing, increase longevity, decrease risk of cancers and other chronic diseases (2).

People across the UK spend an average of 1 hour and 48 minutes per day using social media (3) whereas the recommended amount of exercise per day is just 30 minutes, five times per week.

If you could sacrifice 30 minutes of your time on Instagram, for 30 minutes to taking care of your health through exercise, then you are on track to optimise your health.

 

How much exercise should I do?

Your ideal weekly routine is unique to you, but in general we recommend a mix of cardio, strength and sports workouts.

We have a full team of clinicians here at Uniquely Health to help you develop the perfect exercise routine that fits in with your daily routine. Our Exercise Scientist can put together a plan that gives you the confidence and accountability to exercise.

 

2. Make snacking your friend

In recent years, the number of people eating more than their recommended dietary allowance of sugar has increased by 85%, and sodium has increased by 55% (4). Ultra-processed foods, such as biscuits, swets and pastries, are associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and hypertension. Snacks help us to fuel our day, but we can be tactical with the food choices that we make, to help us take on good nutrients and less processed food into our bodies.

Try and plan ahead. Think about the snacks that you take to work with you. If it makes it easier, you can spend 15 minutes over the weekend preparing your snacks for the week into Tupperware’s. This will reduce that ever so tempting sway to pop into the shops to buy that extra chocolate bar, or pastry.

Reducing the number of ultra-processed foods consumed in the UK will significantly contribute to the prevention of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other preventable chronic diseases.

At Uniquely Health, our Registered Dietitian is here to support you with that journey, understand your food habits, and help you to make informed choices around your food. You will be set up to make sustainable habits for life.

 

3. Build habits around your work life

Sedentary behaviours can have a serious impact on your health.

Emerging evidence signifies inactive lifestyles have catastrophic effects on health. For example, every 2 hour increase in TV viewing time is associated with a 14% increase in Type 2 diabetes and 2 hours sitting at work is associated with a 7% increase (5).

Building up healthy habits through habit stacking can be the most achievable way to build healthy behaviours into your life. Something very simple that people can start doing is being more active with a commute. Try and find the extra 5 minutes here and there to make changes that will increase your daily activity.

 

Top Activities you can fit into your work schedule

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift/ escalator
  • Get on the tube one stop later
  • Walk the school run rather than drive
  • Take a walking meeting
  • Listen to a podcast on a morning walk
  • Use your lunchbreak to get some extra steps

It’s the simple things that add up to you becoming healthier and living longer.

 

4. Make time to sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours each night to allow your body to recharge its batteries for the coming day. You will feel more energised, focused and generally have more motivation to exercise.

Studies have shown that poor sleep is associated with elevated ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is often known as the ‘hunger hormone’ because it increases the drive to eat (6). With stronger food cravings, the risk of obesity increases, and other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Optimal sleep can therefore help you to regulate hunger.

Sleep is often overlooked but is absolutely crucial for our overall health and wellbeing.

 

Establish a good sleep routine:

  • Rewind before bed (limit screen time, have a warm bath, drink a chamomile tea)
  • Sleep in a cool, dark bedroom
  • Try and go to sleep and wake up at a similar time each day.
 

5. Set Realistic Targets

We are well beyond the start of the new year, but it is never too late to set yourself fresh targets.

It is essential to set yourself realistic goals for yourself and to be flexible in the approach that you have to living a healthy lifestyle. Think sustainably about the targets that you make for yourself. Question whether you are likely to be able to keep them up in 6 months’ time? A year? If the answer is no, then maybe start smaller, and build up.

Think about adjusting your strategy and goals as you move forwards and based on the time that you have available. Capitalise on times where you feel you have more hours in the day to spend outdoors, exercising or planning a healthy week of meals. Have a backup for times when the going gets tough and you are much busier.

 

Summary

In conclusion, living a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule is possible with some thoughtful planning and commitment.

At Uniquely Health, we pride ourselves in supporting you with the sustainable lifestyle choices that you need to feel better and live longer. Our team, comprised of General Practitioners, Exercise Scientists and Registered Dietitians are here to curate your personalised health plan. Before making any decisions, we look to understand the whole of you, which means that lifestyle counts too! Building habits isn’t easy, but we are here to make it easier for you.

 

Key Conclusions

1. There are many small things you can do to build healthy habits into your routine

2. The top 5 ways to start include: exercise, eating well, building habits into your routine, sleeping well and setting realistic targets.

3. Planning and commitment are key to successfully incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle long-term.

If you are looking for support in developing a healthy routine that fits with your busy lifestyle then book a complimentary call with our team to discuss how we can help you.  

References

  1. People in the UK: how much do you exercise, and has this changed during the pandemic? The Guardian, 2022
  2. Gremeaux, V., Gayda, M., Lepers, R., Sosner, P., Juneau, M. and Nigam, A., 2012. Exercise and longevity. Maturitas73(4), pp.312-317
  3. Kemp, S., 2024. The time we spend on social media. Available at<https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2024-deep-dive-the-time-we-spend-on-social-media#:~:text=And%20it’s%20also%20interesting%20to,less%20than%20the%20global%20average.> Accessed February 20th 2024
  4. Rauber, F., Louzada, M.L.D.C., Steele, E.M., Millett, C., Monteiro, C.A. and Levy, R.B., 2018. Ultra-processed food consumption and chronic non-communicable diseases-related dietary nutrient profile in the UK (2008–2014). Nutrients10(5), p.587
  5. Tremblay, M.S., Colley, R.C., Saunders, T.J., Healy, G.N. and Owen, N., 2010. Physiological and health implications of a sedentary lifestyle. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism35(6), pp.725-740
  6. Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T. and Mignot, E., 2004. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS medicine1(3), p.e62

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