This post isn’t about what you work as, as much as it is.
Don’t we all love this question?
‘What do you do?’ It can be a loaded question, it can be a simple question, it can be the hardest question in the world to answer sometimes.
Firstly, let’s clarify one thing. You are not your occupation. An occupation is a role that you do. Now we have clarified that we are going to look at what our most time-consuming occupation is, for most adults it is work or some kind, teacher, tradesperson, barista, lawyer, parent, volunteer or charity worker, student. For many parents, it is many different activities. Which leads me to the next point. About balancing this big role into the rest of our lives.
The reason that I want to discuss this is that in the media there is lots of information about how much we should sleep, how much we should move, how much should eat. But I truly believe that all of these things need to be looked at specifically in relation to the individual in question, it can not all be specifically aimed at office workers.
We will look at a couple of examples first.
The 50-year-old executive who works in the city in an office. I use this example first as this is quite often the general type of person that we see the information related to. How much should he move, eat, sleep, relax? What are your thoughts? Do you think you need a little more information about what other activities and roles he has in the other areas of his life, and we need to know how much time he spends doing activities?
How much does he move? Well this could be different for everyone, but during the work day I would think very little or in blocks of time, but he certainly wouldn’t be moving at a moderate level for the most of his day, so he would need to factor this into other areas of his life like how much he exercises or relies on incidental exercise and makes sure that he is consciously aware of this to ensure he moves enough. So he may decide that a sit-stand desk will help improve his participation in moving which will, in turn, improve his posture. The budget, the workplace culture may not allow for the sit-stand desk or he may not want one, so he decides to walk further in his commute to and from work. But, he sits most of the day which affects his posture and his core stability, you guessed it, he should be dedicating more time to core stability in his exercise or movement based activities as well.
How much does he eat and how much does he need to eat? Well this would be dependent on how much he moves and his size and body type also stress levels, as stress plays havoc with digesting the macro and micronutrients, given his movement levels are likely to be less than some other types of roles he probably needs to ensure that he eats food that is the least processed and therefore offers the most nutrients without overeating.
Now, let’s look at a mum with a 2-year-old and 5-month-old. She is at home with the 5-month-old and the 2-year-old has just started at a kindy 2 days a week. This mum is always tired – rightfully so!!
Her movement levels during the day (and the night because lets face it, she could be up for any number of reasons) are high, from the moment she wakes up in the morning to the time she goes to bed (not necessarily staying there or sleeping) she will be most likely moving or holding a baby or cleaning something up, or dropping someone off or going for a walk or running after somebody most of her day.
This lady’s exercise and movement needs are different to those of the 50yr old man and she probably doesn’t need to dedicate as much time to an exercise program although she may do, but if she exercises excessively she is going to be even more tired and could quite possibly cause further health problems. She may need to consider core stability particularly if she is sore around the hips, back and shoulders and she needs to be realistic about how much physical work she does on a day to day basis.
The food she eats still needs to be the least processed and nutrient dense as her body will be still repairing and changing post pregnancy and the birth of the 5-month-old and her lack of sleep also means her nutrient levels will be high.
I have a question for you to think about now, the Tradie who is 30 yrs old and spends a lot of his day moving for his job do you think his movement and food needs will be closer to the office worker or the mum?
I really hope you chose the mum and you had a lot more questions to ask. Can you see the difference with how much each of these people move throughout the day and how this can affect the rest of their lives in terms of whether they need a dedicated exercise program, whether particular parts of the body will need more attention than others and how it can affect the food intake of the individual?
Everyone’s profile of what they do is different and using a blanket approach won’t work, each individual really does need to look at what they do on a day to day basis in regards to their work and their health and adapt other activities around this. We haven’t even touched on stress, age, pre-existing health conditions, leisure activities etc. Employers need to be aware of this too so that they can ensure that their staff are well catered for to do the roles they are employed to do.
If you are not sure about what is right for you and you struggle with your health, don’t be scared to get some guidance from a health professional to help you find the right amount of balance within your life and the occupations/activities that you do and improve your health.
Have a great day.