Mental and physical steps for executives towards a healthier lifestyle
|4 minute read|
It’s not unusual for busy professionals to spend hours sedentary under fluorescent lights tirelessly slumped over a screen – even long after they’ve gone home it can be difficult to fully switch off.
Maintaining adequate mental and physical health while juggling a full-time job is no easy feat and with late hours often accompanied by stress, it may be easier to succumb to a sleep-in over your 6am pilates class.
This is something Exercise Physiologist and Public Speaker David Beard knows all too well, speaking with different companies about practical solutions for a healthier lifestyle daily.
“My focus is to give people practical ideas on how to be as healthy as possible, as there’s so much health information out there that it becomes confusing for people,” he said.
“My presentations dispel a lot of misinformation and give people practical advice.
“In the area of metabolic health – focusing on diabetes and weight loss, I work with individuals to help establish the best eating and exercise strategies for them. I also help them with sleep and stress, as these can influence a person’s metabolism.”
According to Mr Beard, individuals should seek the guidance of a health professional to avoid the inundation of wellness advice and endless fad diets with no real end goal.
“It’s important to get some professional help and to work out what’s the minimum amount that you need to do to get the results you want,” he said.
“Otherwise people waste a lot of time on things that aren’t effective when they can get the same result with less time and effort.”
In 2017-18, 67 per cent of adult Australians were overweight or obese, while 25 per cent of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
“It’s a scary statistic and it’s only got worse over the last 18 months because of the pandemic,” Mr Beard said.
“One of the key metrics to keep track of at home is your waist."
“If someone’s waist is more than half of their height, they’re at an increased risk of diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
“If you see your waist measurements go up, that’s when you need to do something quick and not ignore it.”
Stop reaching for the snacks
While some of us are notorious for a Coke Zero or a packet of lollies when the 3pm hunger pangs strike, Mr Beard said it was best to avoid snacking all together to improve our metabolic health.
“Snacking can provide a quick hit, but it doesn’t have the nutritional value that a full meal has,” he said.
“I don’t recommend people snack at all – it’s actually detrimental to our health.
“Avoiding snacking when stressed is also important, as that just compounds the stress.
“Usually when we’re stressed and we snack, we snack on things that actually raise our physiological stress response, not calm it down.”
At the end of the day, it can be difficult to put a stop to the noise in our head, something Mr Beard said could be combatted with meditation and mindfulness.
“It’s important to learn some simple mindfulness techniques that you can implement regularly during the day – two or three minute meditations and mindfulness techniques,” Mr Beard said.
“Part of the challenge is working out the most beneficial time to implement the techniques – for some people it works best in the afternoon and for others it’s in the evening.
“With exercise and nutrition, it’s not a one size fits all, it’s all about finding out what works best for you.”
Advanced Management Program
For those looking to improve their wellbeing in a leadership role, Mr Beard said programs such as the AIM WA + UWA Business School Executive Education’s Advanced Management Program (AMP) is a great opportunity to learn how to cope with the demands of corporate Australia.
As part of the program, Mr Beard provides sessions on the importance of maintaining health and a reasonable level of fitness despite the challenges of work, family and community responsibilities.
The AMP program is all about providing an immersive experience for managers and leaders who want to take their career to the next level. Sustainable success at executive level can stand or fall, however, depending on an individual's physical and mental wellbeing.
“My key message is that it’s super important that they don’t ignore their health at the expense of progressing their career, so they need to build in those routines and habits around diet, exercise and sleep early on in their career.”