Top 10: health & fitness tips for small business owners

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At 38, I decided to start running (or rather, shuffling) because I was at a crossroads in my life. I was the unhealthiest I’d ever been and was seeking a new fitness challenge. Over the years, I’ve seen first-hand how the way we treat our bodies, dictates our quality of life.

Here are 10 tips that’ll keep any small business owner fighting fit, regardless of what life and business throws their way.

1. Get some fresh air each day to feel positive and upbeat

More and more these days, most of us are spending our time sitting inside and at a desk. If you’re working in an office with a few people or even alone at home, you’re exposed to stale air. Getting out and about helps to boost your immune system and ease your stress levels. Best of all, research shows that getting outside and surrounding yourself with nature increases energy levels for 90% of people. No need for that energy drink!

2. Stay warm

Any small business owner knows how vital it is that they’re healthy and raring to go! When you keep warm, your body temperature is being controlled. In turn, this helps to prevent you from catching all of those nasty colds or worse still, the flu, all year round. Now that we’re in summer, be mindful of cranking up the air conditioning so high that you and your team are shivering. If you can’t control the environment you’re in, be sure to layer up and know that everyone’s body temperature is different. Weight, size, age, gender, sleep patterns, diet and even happiness levels all play a part.

3. Burn those candles

You may not think that summer and candles necessarily go hand-in-hand but you’d be surprised at the positive effect a calming candle or alternatively, essential oils can have. When you burn either in your office, you’ll notice an instant boost in both your mood and productivity levels. I especially find calming candles and essential oils helpful when I’m feeling stressed as they help me to refocus and feel refreshed as well as re-energised. Just don’t forget to blow out your candle before you leave your office!

4. Get up and stretch every hour

Most of us are deskbound meaning we’re sitting for a good portion of the day. The least physical of jobs can wreak havoc on our bodies. Lower back pain, wrist pain, poor posture, sore fingers… we’ve all been there! To minimise the toll that sitting for so long can take, get up from your desk and stretch every hour. If you can go for a quick walk, that’s even better. When you move your body, you’re improving blood circulation, which also helps to stimulate brain function. In other words, when you return to your desk, you’ll be even more productive!

5. Never skip breakfast

When you fail to ‘break the fast’ after you’ve been asleep for hours, you’re setting yourself up for a pretty unhealthy day. As a small business owner myself, I can relate to others who say they just don’t have the time to grab a bite to eat before heading out the door but believe me, it will help you to be so much more focussed and productive from the minute you begin work. Aim for a combination of protein and good fats for breakfast and if you’re really time poor or not hungry, make a healthy liquid shake or smoothie.

6. Eat regularly throughout the day

Now that we’re discussing food, I can’t overstate how important it is that you fuel your body throughout the day. Even more so for budding business owners who tend to burn the candle at both ends. When you eat small regular meals throughout the day, you’re helping yourself to keep a clear head and to work consistently. Watch your portion sizes and aim for balanced meals, incorporating carbohydrates and protein. If you’re not getting hungry throughout the day, keep a check on how many cups of coffee or cans of soft drink you’re drinking.

7. Swap coffee for green tea

Sure, I know this tip might have some business owners breaking out in a sweat but when you’re stressed, as business owners may find themselves quite often, the last thing you need is anything that may increase your anxiety levels. Instead, swap this mood-altering drug (yes, that’s what coffee is), for green tea, herbal tea or coconut water – each will help to reduce the negative toll stress has on your body. Just a heads-up, if you do give up or choose to reduce your caffeine intake, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. This is absolutely normal and should pass within a week so be sure to persist!

8. Fuel your body with good quality foods

We are what we eat! How many times have you heard that line before? Our bodies are sophisticated machines and when you fuel yours with too much high processed or fatty foods, you can expect to feel a little worse for wear. To be at your best and to kick some serious business goals, you need to feed your body well. Whenever people ask me what they should be eating, I tell them to keep it simple. Stick to good sources of protein such as lean meats and eggs, healthy sources of carbohydrates such as veggies and wholegrains and avoid anything too fatty. Give your tastebuds a little time to adapt and I promise you: you won’t look back!

9. Disconnect

Are you connected 24/7? Always hooked to your computer, phone or another mobile device? As a small business owner, I know how difficult it can be to call it a day and have time away from our many devices. For your health (especially your sanity), it’s incredibly important that you disconnect after a certain time in the evening to give yourself enough space to be in your own mind and to be present with those around you. Unless you’re in a role that deals with life and death each day, you can come back to anything that’s pressing the next day.

10. Make you a priority

When you’re running a business and juggling your personal life, chances are, you’re allocating time to your business, employees, your partner, your kids, friends and so on. So what’s missing on that list? You! Whether it’s 10 or 15 minutes each day, make sure you’re making yourself a priority by doing something positive for you and you alone. It doesn’t have to be anything grand – just something that you enjoy and that allows you to be in your own space for a while.

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