1000 Mile Challenge

Nutrition & Sleep

Health Data and Guidance

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for death worldwide and a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The World Health Organization has identified physical activity as a proven way to prolong the length of your life and so preventive measures are increasingly important given this global rise in chronic NCDs such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Regular physical activity can dramatically reduce the risk of developing these diseases.

Other health benefits include:

  • reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and depression
  • increases the quantity and quality of energy
  • improves bone and functional health;

The 1,000 Mile Challenge promotes health and wellbeing (and a little bit of healthy competition) creating a healthier, more engaged workforce and helping to change habits and lifestyles for the better.

Source World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO recommends the following activity levels

Adults should do both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities each week to improve and benefit their health.

  • 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity

OR

  • 75 minutes each week of high-intensity aerobic activity

 

Children and Adolescents should do at least 1 hour per day of moderate or high-intensity aerobic physical activity. For children and young people, physical activity includes:

  • Play, sports, chores, recreation or physical education,
  • In the context of family, school, and community activities

Nutritional advice

Eating a balanced diet can help keep you healthy and maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Making small changes to our diets can help protect us in the future, against developing and/or fighting diseases e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Small changes you can make include eating some fresh fruit instead of a piece of cake in a break, or soup and a salad rather than a burger and chips at lunch. These changes will have a huge effect on how we feel and our performance at work and home.

Some healthy foods and drink to include in your daily diet:

  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
  • Whole Grains e.g. Rice, Lentils, Quinoa
  • Meat, Fish, Eggs and Beans (and other non-dairy sources of protein)
  • Water, it’s important to keep hydrated (1-1.5 Litres), Herbal teas

Top 10 tips to improve your diet

  1. Drink 1-1.5L water daily to avoid dips in energy, focus and mental performance.
  2. Caffeine is very dehydrating; so try to limit your intake of tea and coffee in favour of water or herbal teas.
  3. Eat three good meals per day and don’t miss breakfast!
  4. The general rule of thumb is to eat a plate of 40% grains, 40% fruits & vegetables and 20% protein.
  5. Maximise your intake of fruit and vegetables in all meals, every day.
  6. Avoid foods high in sugar – so instead of sugar coated breakfast cereals, eat sugar-free muesli/porridge, instead of cake, biscuits and desserts, eat fruit and nuts.
  7. We don’t need to deprive ourselves of all things ‘nice’ but limit the foods and drinks we consume that are high in fat and sugar. Maybe have a cheat meal once a week.
  8. If you are tired after eating a sandwich or pasta at lunch, you may have a food allergy to wheat – try a salad and soup instead and monitor for changes in energy.
  9. Eat lunch away from your desk, slowly chewing your food so that you notice when you’ve had enough.
  10. Eat your evening meal at least 2-3 hours before going to bed to help ease digestion.

Read Jamie Oliver’s 10 healthy tips to live by.

Sleep advice

Sleep is as important to our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It allows our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to consolidate our memories and process information. Most adults need 8 hours sleep each night.

Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, you are also more likely to get high blood pressure, diabetes and to be overweight.

The occasional night without sleep will make you feel tired the next day, but it won’t affect your health. However, after several sleepless nights, you will start to find that you:

  • feel tired all the time
  • drop off during the day
  • find it difficult to concentrate
  • find it hard to make decisions
  • start to feel depressed
  • start to worry about not being able to sleep.

Some simple tips that may help achieve a restful night:

Do’s

  • Make sure that your bed and bedroom are comfortable – not too hot, not too cold, not too noisy.
  • Make sure that your mattress supports you properly. If it’s too firm, your hips and shoulders are under pressure. If it’s too soft, your body sags which is bad for your back. Generally, you should replace your mattress every 10 years to get the best support and comfort.
  • Get some exercise. Don’t overdo it, but try some regular swimming or walking. The best time to exercise is in the daytime – particularly late afternoon or early evening. Later than this can disturb your sleep.
  • Take some time to relax properly before going to bed. Some people find aromatherapy helpful.
  • If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing. Read, watch television or listen to quiet music. After a while, you should feel tired enough to go to bed again.

Don’ts

  • Don’t go without sleep for a long time. Go to bed when you feel tired and stick to a routine of getting up at the same time every day, whether you still feel tired or not.
  • Caffeine hangs around in your body for many hours after your last drink of tea or coffee. There are now many fizzy drinks, and even mints, that contain a lot of caffeine. Stop drinking tea or coffee by mid-afternoon. If you want a hot drink in the evening, try something milky or herbal (but check there’s no caffeine in it).
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol. It may help you fall asleep, but you will almost certainly wake up during the night.
  • Don’t eat or drink a lot late at night. Try to have your supper early in the evening rather than late.
  • If you’ve had a bad night, don’t sleep in the next day – it will make it harder to get off to sleep the following night.
  • Don’t use slimming pills – many of these will keep you awake.
  • Don’t use street drugs like Ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines – they are stimulants, and like caffeine, will tend to keep you awake.

If you try these tips and you still can’t sleep, go and see your doctor. You can talk over any problems that may be interfering with your sleep. Your doctor can check that your sleeplessness is not due to a physical illness, a prescribed medicine, or emotional problems.

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