Ask an Expert: Brian McFarlin

Brian McFarlin (Photo by Gary Payne)How can you stay fit in a busy workplace?

With the New Year ahead, staying fit or getting into shape is a key goal for many professionals with busy work schedules and families at home. People forget to move during stressful times at work and they make unhealthy eating choices, says Brian McFarlin, associate professor of kinesiology, health promotion and recreation and director of UNT's Applied Physiology Laboratory. McFarlin researches the benefits of physical activity and dietary modification.

"There are easy adaptations people can make in their lives and at work to stay healthy and active," he says, offering the following tips:

Make a few changes

  • Set an alarm on your watch or phone to remind you to move every 30 minutes or so.
  • Use a standing desk instead of a regular desk or swap your chair for an exercise ball to help strengthen core muscles and improve balance and posture. If you prefer, keep both and switch every 30 minutes.
  • Walk or take the stairs. Park farther away from your building, which gives you a lot more exercise than parking at the front. Or take the stairs in your building for a small workout to begin your day.

Snack smart

  • Bring your own snacks rather than buying from a machine. Avoid fatty ingredients by choosing healthier items like air-popped popcorn, also easy to make and transport.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid those in sugary juices and fruit snacks that are only labeled to look healthy. And drink more water to help you feel full and avoid over-snacking.

Be a mindful consumer

  • Food is generally safe but be careful of foods and snacks with lots of chemicals and substitutes.
  • Read labels to see what you are actually eating. Remember that products with fewer ingredients are generally better for you.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no shortcut to good health or to losing weight. It requires patience and discipline.

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