Can we really blame our jobs for our weight gain?
The Daily Mail reported this week that women who work full time are more likely to put on weight, drink and smoke. This was reported as the findings of a scientific study which was conducted by analysing the lifestyle of almost 10,000 women between the ages of 40 and 45.
Women working more than 35 hours per week are more likely to put on weight than their part-time counterparts, whilst those working over 49 hours per week were more likely to drink excessively and smoke.
Although these statistics are not necessarily surprising, the fact that there was no mention of how men react to long working hours was an interesting omission. The assumption put forth by the researchers was that more time at the office equated to less time spent doing exercise and cooking healthy foods. Does this imply that men's lifestyles are less impacted by their work because their female partners will pick up the slack at home and allow them time to spend at the gym? Or that the prospect of men putting on weight during middle age is less worthy of investigation than women doing the same?
The research tracked the women's working hours, weight and lifestyle changes over the course of two years and concluded that 55% of women put on an average of 1.5% of their body weight. However, bearing in mind that women in their late forties are likely to be going through menopause, this could possibly be a factor worth considering when analysing the data.
Working in an office will inevitably lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and long hours will decrease motivation to spend our free time exercising and cooking. However, good organisation and solid motivation can help both men and women to beat the odds and stay trim despite long working hours.
A healthy diet is the key to not putting on weight even if you do not have time for regular exercise. If you find it hard to make time for home-cooked meals, set aside a few hours at the weekend to make batches of simple recipes such as vegetable soups, exotic salads and healthy casseroles which can be frozen or refrigerated to take to work.
If there is a day when you buy lunch, try to go for more nutritious options such as cottage cheese, freshly-made salads and fruit rather than a packaged sandwich which will often be high in salt and fat.
Even if you don't have time to hit the gym, there are a number of things you can do to be more active during the day. Get off a bus or a train slightly earlier in the morning and walk briskly into work, trying to lower the amount of time it takes you each day. Jogging back is also a good option if you can take some comfortable clothes and trainers with you.
Things like taking the stairs rather than a lift or an escalator can also help as it will increase your heart rate and kick-start your metabolism.