Shift Work and Fitness After 40
If you work in an industry that requires you to work shift work, either alternating or stable night shift, you don’t need studies to prove to you that shift work is hard on the body. Anecdotal and published opinions confirm what we know intuitively…working nights can lead to weight gain and more. Shift workers have a higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep disturbances, and cardiovascular disease. Shift work also affects your digestion, emotions and the ability to handle stress. In my book, Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, I discuss the best plans that can improve many of the health conditions that shift workers suffer from.
But what can you do if you have a career that requires shift work? Are you doomed to watch your health deteriorate? I say no! You will just have to be more intentional and vigilant.
Here are some tips to help you to decrease your likelihood of these health issues.
First, maintain a healthy weight. This may seem like impossibility when your co-worker should have his/her own cooking show. You don’t have to forgo their delicacies, but eat less of their delicious fare. One way to enjoy your food is to eat half of what you THINK you want to eat. Often we can be satisfied with less.
You may also consider eating only during the day time hours and limiting your food intake on the night shifts. This would mean that you eat breakfast when you get home, then sleep, wake up and have “lunch”, and then supper/dinner as your last meal in the evening. This may seem like a radical thing to do, but it may be the trick for you.
If you do get hungry during the night, eat a high quality protein and a piece of fruit. Think lean and light. Plan and bring your own food. This will help you to stay away from processed foods and sugary drinks that are available in the vending machines. Try to limit caffeine to not within four hours before sleep time for day and night shifts.
Exercise when you wake up after sleep following a night shift. Even a 15-20 minute session can improve your health. If you work out doors at night, calculate your average steps and make it a goal to add 500 steps per shift. Goal setting is an easy way to challenge yourself. Small changes can make a big difference. Make you daily step goal 10 K per day.
Ensure that the room you sleep in encourages sleep. Dark, cool and quiet. Pretty simple. Use room darkening shades, and eye mask and ear plugs as necessary. A white noise machine is a useful addition for some shift workers.
If you experience delayed sleep because of a rushing mind, focus on your breathing. When you focus on your breathing, your mind is occupied and cannot be carried away with ruminating thoughts.
Reading from a paper book can also improve the chances of falling asleep more easily. Disconnect from electronics before sleep time to limit the blue light that keeps the brain alert.
Personalizing Your Shift Work Weight Management and Health Plan
Not everyone experiences the negative effects of shift work. Explore your personal risks. Do you have a family history of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure? Then devise a plan for yourself that will help avoid them. Monitor your weight regularly and respond to keep it at a proper weight. Check your blood pressure and maintain it at less than 120/80. Draw your labs and ensure that your fasting blood sugar is less than 99. Evaluate your blood cholesterol levels to see that they are at normal levels. This data can help you to determine the areas that you need to work on. You can determine your labs without a doctor’s order at my Ulta Labs/nursechrisp
If you weight is going up, decrease your calories or increase your activity.
If you blood pressure is creeping up focus on stress, tobacco use, amount of sleep you are getting (7-9 hours is recommended), check your weight, and try the Nitric Oxide Dump.
If your blood sugar is going up, your doctor may recommend treatment, he/she may recommend weight loss and increased exercise.
Are your cholesterol levels going up? Lower your intake of refined carbohydrates, limit alcohol, maintain a healthy weight and move daily.
Do you see a trend here? Maintaining a healthy weight can improve your chances of having normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar and normal cholesterol levels.
Shift work is hard on the body for most, but you can take steps to manage the negative effects.
I’d love to help you with this. I have written an e-book guide that can help you find the best plans for you and your lifestyle. When you find the plan that you will consistently follow, the results will come.
My book by clicking the link: Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating is available for you today.
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