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3 Must-Have Health & Fitness Apps For The Busy Business Professional

3 Must-Have Health & Fitness Apps For The Busy Business Professional

BY AMBER MAC

It’s easy to get behind when you’re a busy executive. It’s also easy to get a big behind when you’re a busy executive. Yes, sitting at a desk all day, flying from city to city, and collapsing on the couch as soon as you get home from back-to-back meetings can all contribute to weight gain and a general feeling of unhealthiness. Oh, and let’s not forget the endless vending machine snacking and late work dinners out.

Fortunately, the very technology that is tethering us to our work can also help us to stay in shape. More than 40% of doctors believe that mobile health tech can reduce the number of office visits and more than 80% of doctors currently use smartphone and medical apps in their own practices, according to data released last month from Float Mobile Learning.

With more than 10,000 health care apps on the market distributing an endless amount of free or almost free information, it’s clear that smart working professionals should be in much better shape. After all, the most successful business people are often high achievers, constantly looking for better ways to improve their diets and enhance their exercise routines for more energy at the office. However, with so much time spent focusing on work and so little time to homing in on health, it’s tough to piece together the perfect mobile solution.

To make better food choices and to put physical activity back on top of your to-do list, here are three apps that can ensure you’re ahead on the fitness front.

LoseIt (iOS/Android – FREE)

Most nutritionists and personal trainers will tell you that tracking what you eat and how much you work out is one of the best ways to lose weight and stay healthy. Unfortunately, a paper-based food diary can be a cumbersome method to monitor every snack you have and every step you take. A better answer is LoseIt. This app makes it a cinch to record everything that goes in your mouth, without taking up too much time in your busy day. Just ate a handful of almonds? This mobile download will tell you that 10 of these tasty treats have 69 calories (and it will break down the carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein, and more). If you have a weight-loss goal, just enter that number into the app and LoseIt will calculate your daily caloric allowance. The more exercise you do (which you must also track), the more calories the app will “give” you back. If you want to share your LoseIt progress, you can output daily reports (or just keep all your great progress to yourself!).

Fooducate (iOS/Android – FREE)

It’s easy to make bad food decisions when you’re rushing around all day, trying to keep up with a nonstop schedule. Sometimes reaching for that Kashi Protein & Fiber Bar tin your desk might seem like a smart and healthy choice, but you may not know that the Chocolate Almond Toffee variety gets a “D” food grade. Based on the Fooducate app, this product has more than 20% of your daily saturated fat allowance (which, according to information also supplied in this tool, is responsible for bad cholesterol buildup). Instead of making poor food choices, use this app to automatically scan a barcode when you’re shopping for snacks or looking for lunchtime meals or simply do a product search from within the tool. Not only will the app give you the food information you’re searching for, it will also provide healthier recommendations so you can eat better when you’re on the run.

P90X (iPhone, $4.99)

If you’re looking for an intense way to get fit, the P90X exercise routine is getting a lot of mainstream buzz. This new app includes a day-by-day schedule for the popular 90-day home workout program. There are detailed photos and videos to show you how to do each exercise correctly, and a colourful journal to ensure you’re meeting your fitness and diet goals. While this program can be done at home or on the road, there is a significant time commitment of an hour per workout. For business professionals looking at something a little less intense, on the other end of the spectrum is the newly updated Lastics Office Stretch app (iOS/Android – 99 cents). This digital download, which also provides step-by-step videos, is ideal for anyone looking for two- to four-minute stretches that are easily done at the office. This is the perfect mobile companion for anyone who needs a short break from staring at a computer screen or who is stuck on conference calls all day.

[Image: Flickr user Séan Venn]

U.S. Obesity Higher Than Thought

How should obesity be calculated?

The obesity problem in the US may be much worse than previously thought, according to researchers. They said using the Body Mass Index or BMI to determine obesity was underestimating the issue.  Their study, published in the journal PLoS One, said up to 39% of people who were not currently classified as obese actually were.  The authors said “we may be much further behind than we thought” in tackling obesity.  BMI is a simple calculation which combines a person’s height and weight to give a score which can be used to diagnose obesity. Somebody with a BMI of 30 or more is classed as obese.  The US Centers for Disease Control says at least one in three Americans is obese.

Many more?

Other ways of diagnosing obesity include looking at how much of the body is made up of fat. A fat percentage of 25% or more for men or 30% or more for women is the threshold for obesity.  One of the researchers Dr Eric Braverman said: “The Body Mass Index is an insensitive measure of obesity, prone to under-diagnosis, while direct fat measurements are superior because they show distribution of body fat.”  The team at the New York University School of Medicine and the Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, looked at records from 1,393 people who had both their BMI and body fat scores measured.  Their data showed that most of the time the two measures came to the same conclusion. However, they said 539 people in the study – or 39% – were not labelled obese according to BMI, but their fat percentage suggested they were.  They said the disparity was greatest in women and became worse when looking at older groups of women.  “Greater loss of muscle mass in women with age exacerbates the misclassification of BMI,” they said.  They propose changing the thresholds for obesity: “A more appropriate cut-point for obesity with BMI is 24 for females and 28 for males.”  A BMI of 24 is currently classed as a “normal” weight. “By our cut-offs, 64.1% or about 99.8 million American women are obese,” they said.

It is not the first time BMI has been questioned. A study by the University of Leicester said BMIs needed to be adjusted according to ethnicity.  Last year in the BBC’s Scrubbing Up column, nutrition expert Dr Margaret Ashwell advocated using waist-to-height ratio to determine obesity.  She said: “It is a real worry that using BMI alone for screening could miss people who are at risk from central obesity and might also be alarming those whose risk is not as great as it appears from their BMI.”

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Below is great article I saw in the Harvard Business Review about how the constant connection to technology effects your efficiency at work and in our personal lives.

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Written by Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.

Why is it that between 25 and 50 per cent of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?

It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.

What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It’s like an itch we can’t resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.

Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you’re taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you’re driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn’t?

The biggest cost — assuming you don’t crash — is to your productivity. In part, that’s a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.

But most insidiously, it’s because if you’re always doing something, you’re relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.

I know this from my own experience. I get two to three times as much writing accomplished when I focus without interruption for a designated period of time and then take a real break, away from my desk. The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.

If you’re a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:

1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what’s been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.

2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it’s urgent, you can call them — but that won’t happen very often.

3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.

It’s also up to individuals to set their own boundaries. Consider these three behaviors for yourself:

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you’ll be. When you’re done, take at least a few minutes to renew.

2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don’t, you’ll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that’s relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.

3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off, you’re truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you’re engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you’re renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.

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