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Civil Service

Top tips for a fit and healthy 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Leaders
Head shot of Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones, Head of the Government Legal Service and Civil Service Health and Well-Being Champion

A happy New Year to all. I hope you managed to get a good break over the last few weeks.

As the Civil Service Health and Well-being Champion, I’d also like to wish you a healthy New Year. In case you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get fitter or healthier in the year ahead, here are a few practical tips and places to look for more inspiration.

The NHS’s One You Quiz will give you a good idea of where you stand now.

Jogging manIf you have resolved to become more active, NHS guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, such as fast walking or cycling. If you’re interested in increasing your activity, some ideas include:

  • small activities, like getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way;
  • twice-weekly strength exercises - take a look at some demonstration videos here;
  • trying the Couch to 5K running challenge. It starts with just one minute of running at a time and builds up to a full 5-kilometre run over a 9-week period; and
  • taking a break at lunchtime to go for a walk.

Suggestions for a healthier, more balanced diet from NHS Choices include:

  • reducing the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat in your diet, by avoiding cooking in fat and reducing the amount of processed food you eat;
  • trying not to skip meals, as evidence shows that this makes you more likely to snack on foods with a higher fat and sugar content;
  • concentrating on eating meals containing fresh, natural ingredients – using herbs and spices is an easy way to add flavour to your food;
  • eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day – simple ways to do this include a banana with your cereal, adding a portion of salad to a lunchtime sandwich, and aiming to fill half your dinner plate with vegetables; you can learn more about food groups and portion sizes here.

Graphic of your 5-a-day fruit and veg for good healthEven the experts acknowledge that rewarding yourself with the occasional treat keeps you on track with your healthy eating goals for longer, so committing to improve your health doesn’t mean giving up all of your favourite foods.

If weight loss is your goal, you can download the 12 week weight loss guide from NHS Choices

Whatever your goals for 2017, adopting small changes can make a big difference over time. If you would like to share your resolutions or health and well-being tips with me and colleagues across the Civil Service, do post a comment. You might inspire somebody to begin their own personal healthy lifestyle journey this year.

I wish everyone the best for the year ahead.

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  1. Comment by J posted on

    Why is it frowned upon to take a meal break to go to the local swimming bath and have a swim once or twice a week? With the push towards being more healthy, cycle to work schemes, 5 a day fruits, etc surely the Civil Service would see staff getting out to exercise from behind a desk a good thing?
    Then why is it that managers complain, clock watch when you are 5 minutes late back and you work flexi time? The situation got so bad that it was better to not go swimming than face the wrath of the line manager.
    What does that say for us?

  2. Comment by Dan Donnelly posted on

    Why has the long-established 'terminal meal break' in Border Force, introduced for practical reasons for operational staff at the border controls, spilt over into office administrative roles? For the majority of staff here, the only exercise is to the microwave, returning to their desks with hot (and often smelly) food in order to leave earlier. I'm the oddity in walking at lunchtime, and having a proper meal.

  3. Comment by Liza Pawlowska posted on

    I am organising the talk "Nutrition's role in supporting physical and mental health" on the 3rd of February in 100 Parliament Street.

    The talk will include some myth busting and provide many helpful tips on healthy eating.

  4. Comment by Charlotte Smith posted on

    I was given a fitbit for Christmas by very dear friends of mine. Here in GMG there is a fitbit group which one can join and we can monitor our progress.

    However there are two points i would like to raise. As part of the being healthy drive, and with the backdrop of the heavy cold bug that has done the rounds and was a particuarly nasty one, can there be funding made available for the distribution of hand gels. This would certaintly help in preventing the spread of germs
    Can DWP also work in partnership with various catering contractors to provide healthy meals for lunch?

    • Replies to Charlotte Smith>

      Comment by William posted on

      If people washed their hands properly, we wouldn't need antiseptic gels.
      Plus - there is evidence to suggest that the rise in allergies comes from our "world" being too antiseptically clean.

  5. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you Jonathan for promoting the importance of Wellbeing and exercise.

    Having enjoyed the excess of the Christmas Season, I have returned to my daily routine of sensible eating and lots of walking.

    In particular at work, I look to less use of the lift and more walking up and down on the stairs!

  6. Comment by Diana Connor posted on

    Locally, we have found a local Council/NHS initiative called 'Shape Up 4 Business' and, working with them, have introduced of a lunchtime 10 week weight management programme called 'Shape Up 4 Business' where the objective is to look at changing eating and exercise habits rather than any sort of diet. The 1st sessions ran from September to November with 2 groups of between 10 - 15 people attending each one. Total weight loss over that period is over 7 stone and we have set up a lunchtime 'maintenance' group now to continue the good work! We are just embarking on our 2nd round of the 10 week programme, again with 2 groups. I believe that these initiatives are nationwide and would encourage anyone looking for sound, practical and free advice to look into this. Great working as a cross site group, helping and supporting each other.