12 Ways to make a work day a 'work-it' day

Tips

Are you making the most of your nine to five?  Knowing the best times to eat, exercise or indulge in a nap can give your body, brain and wellbeing a boost.

Wake up with the birds - You've heard of larks and owls, but what about hummingbirds?  "Hummingbirds go to bed between 10 and 11pm and wake up from 6 to 7am," says Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder of The Sleep School (thesleepschool.org). "Around 70 to 80% of us are hummingbirds."

Do some meditation - "The best time to meditate is first thing," says Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of mindfulness platform Headspace (headspace.com).  "It gives you a fresh, clear mind and helps you focus more.  Feeling more calm and productive will mean the experience of work is not so hectic."

Go for a run - A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed you can burn 20% more body fat by getting active on an empty stomach, even if it's just taking the dog for a walk.  US scientists also found exposure to light earlier in the day could help lower your BMI.

Eat a healthy breakfast - Research by the University of Bath found those who eat a breakfast of 350 calories within two hours of waking burn more calories and are less likely to experience blood sugar crashes - meaning you crave sugary treats - later in the day.  Try a bowl of porridge with berries.

Walk to work - Swapping driving your car for riding a bike or walking to work could improve your wellbeing.  One UEA study of active commuters found they were able to concentrate better than those who travelled by car.  If you have to drive, park a bit further away and walk the last leg.

Have a coffee - Neuroscientist Dr Steven Miller says mid-morning is the perfect time for a pick-me-up - levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, peak between 8 and 9am, so you're already alert at that time and don't need the caffeine boost that early.  Save the latte for when your cortisol levels are beginning to drop.

Take a lunch hour - Nutrition experts say you should eat lunch four and a half hours after breakfast to avoid getting too hungry and overeating.  A recent survey by Total Jobs found 56% of us don't take a full lunch break.  All that unpaid overtime adds up to an average of £33,000 in a lifetime. 

Have a power nap - "Taking a nap can work as a performance enhancer," says Dr Meadows.  "Afterwards, your brain can recall memories more easily and you're twice as likely to be able to solve a challenging problem.  Aim for 10 to 20 minutes rest.  Any longer and you'll fall into a deep sleep, waking up with brain fog."

Hold a meeting - A recent survey by scheduling service WhenisGood found that 3pm was the best time to hold a meeting - especially on a Tuesday - as more people tended to be available and they had time to properly prepare beforehand.  The worse time was 9am on Monday, but we already knew that...

Brainstorm some ideas - It sounds bizarre, but you're more creative when you're tired at the end of a working day.  French researchers found an exhausted brain was more likely to 'wander off' and find innovative ideas.  Try tiring your mind by doing a crossword or Sudoku before a creative task.

Enjoy a workout - Not a fan of morning exercise?  Hit the gym after work.  We tend to perform high intensity exercise better later in the day, while studies show strength and flexibility are greatest late afternoon.  If you leave it until 8 or 9pm, you probably won't be at your energetic best.

Go to bed - "We sleep in cycles that are around 90 minutes long, and the average sleeper goes through four to five sleep cycles per night," says Dr Meadows.  "If you always wake up at 6am, you can work backwards to find your ideal time to go to sleep."  Don't forget to allow extra time for falling asleep too.

Source: Vitality 


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