The pandemic has had far-reaching effects on our health. Working from home and not moving as much, indulging in comfort foods, and not having places to go or people to see has made weight management a much harder hurdle to clear even for the relatively healthy person. Reframing our approach to exercise and eating can help counter those pandemic pounds. Here are 4 ways to reverse this sedentary trend:
1) Incorporate more activity into your day.
Sitting is now deemed to be just as dangerous to our health as smoking. Spending long periods of time at your desk and not moving can lead to fatigue, eye strain, neck pain, swelling in the legs, and even hemorrhoids. Studies have found that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Sitting leads to weight gain because less energy is expended when we sit, meaning we burn fewer calories. We also tend to snack more. Adding little bursts of activity, such as jumping jacks, doing the stairs, go going for a quick walk will help to burn calories, improve blood flow and energize your mind and body.
If your stuck in back-to-back virtual meetings, try these exercises, which can actually be done from your desk:
Chair Triceps Dips: Scoot to the front of a stationary chair, with both hands facing forward. Place palms flat on the chair, bend your elbows straight back, and lower yourself straight down several inches, keeping your back as close to the chair as possible. Then straighten your arms to rise back to start.
Desk Push Ups: Stand or sit back a few feet from your desk. Place your palms on the edge of your desk a little wider than shoulder-width. Lower yourself down toward your desk, keeping your core tight. Then push back up until arms are straight, but not locked.
Chair Squats: Try to bust these out between meetings or during long phone calls. All you have to do is stand up from your chair, lower your body back down, stopping right before you sit back down. Keep your weight in your heels to work those glutes. Then stand back up again.
Calf Raises: These exercises are great for improving circulation and preventing ankle swelling and they can be done multiple times throughout the workday. Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor.
2) Add a prebiotic to your probiotic can help suppress appetite and fight abdomen fat
Probiotics offer a wide range of health benefits. They’re best known for their ability to promote gut and immune health, but there’s also mounting evidence that they can help with weight management. Several strains of probiotics in both the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium family have been shown to help reduce weight and belly fat. Lactobacillus gasseri appears to be one of the most effective. Research suggests that probiotics help by promoting the release of appetite-reducing hormones, helping reduce the number of calories you absorb from food, as well as potentially reducing inflammation, which can drive obesity.
Prebiotics are the dietary fiber that nourish probiotics. Essentially, they’re food for good bacteria. High-fibre foods like asparagus, bananas, green onions, garlic, soybeans and artichokes contain prebiotics. However, most people don’t eat enough of these foods consistently to realize their benefits. Studies have found that prebiotic fibres can support weight management by promoting satiety (improving the feeling of fullness), while also supporting regular bowel movements and improving the bioavailability of minerals.
Taking a prebiotic and probiotic in combination supplement, known as a synbiotic, is a good way to get the benefits f0r weight management as well as gut and immune health.
3) Use the Glycemic Index when making menus
The glycemic index measures how slow or fast a carbohydrate-rich food breaks down into sugar and raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index break down more slowly and have a more steady impact on blood glucose levels. This is important because keeping blood sugar levels stable will help to control hunger and cravings. Foods low in the glycemic index are high-fibre whole grains, leafy greens, beans, legumes, berries, apples and sweet potatoes. When planning meals opt for high fibre carbohydrates as they tend to be lower in the glycemic index. Adding protein and healthy fats to your meal will slow the rate of digestion of carbohydrates, resulting in a lower overall glycemic response and this is a good thing when you’re trying to keep energy levels hight and curb hunger and cravings. Eating protein-rich foods also help to raise metabolism so you burn more calories.
4) Gaining more sleep to lose more weight
During sleep our body is actually busy repairing, regenerating and producing vital hormones that regulate many body processes, including appetite and metabolism. It’s well established that a lack of sleep isn associated with many adverse health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, cancer and even obesity.
Research has found that a lack of sleep increases the levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which is involved in appetite regulation. Increased ghrelin levels can increase appetite. Levels of another human, called human growth hormone (HGH), are reduced when we don’t get enough sleep. HGH is involved in regulating metabolism, so when levels are lowered, this can reduce metabolism. In one study, participants who slept five hours per night were 73% more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep. So for better appetite and weight control, don’t skimp on sleep. Lack of sleep also affects our ability to make good dietary decisions…snacking on unhealthy foods and binging.
Incorporating these simple strategies into your daily life can make a big difference in how you feel and also go a long way in helping to support a healthy body weight.