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Get fit for farming

Why is it only in January that we start noticing that spare tyre hanging around our waists?
News flash! It wasn’t the Christmas pudding.

Obesity amongst adults in England is on the rise and now 63% of adults are considered over-weight or obese1. As a farmer, can you afford to be one of them?

You’re busy running your farm, and already have a long list of things to do. It’s likely, your physical and mental health is pushed to one side as ‘more important’ tasks take priority.

The truth is you’re the most important asset on your farm. When you look after your own wellbeing, you’re looking after your farm, your family and the key person in your business. The long hours you spend on the farm can result in making less-healthy (but convenient) food choices and not planning time for physical exercise. Agricultural workers are already 18 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury at work than any other industry in the UK2, so it’s even more important you’re fit for the type of physical work you’re doing. 

If it’s time to make your health a priority - here’s some ways to make it happen.

Fuel your body

Nutrition isn’t all about dieting and being hungry! It’s about nourishing your body with good food and staying hydrated to keep you going throughout the day. A little planning goes a long way, so give some thought to what you’re eating, when and why. 

The government’s Eatwell guide recommends3:

  • Drink plenty of fluids every day, more if you exercise
  • Wholegrain and high fibre breads, rice and pasta
  • Eat at least 5 portions of different fruit and vegetables every day
  • Include dairy or dairy alternatives in your diet
  • Reduce your intake of processed meat
  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
  • Save sugary and salty snacks for special occasions
  • Keep alcohol consumption to less than 14 units per week

Incorporating low GI foods like porridge, wholegrain bread or unsalted nuts into your diet will release energy more slowly, helping to prevent sugar highs and weight gain5.

Built to last – keeping fit on farm

Unfortunately having a manual job doesn’t always tick the “exercise” box. Dedicating time to exercise will increase your strength and fitness, reduce the chance of injury, and allows you to continue working in the long term. Schedule exercise for the morning if you’re worn out by the end of the day.

Keeping farm fit is all about doing the activities that you love, more often:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Jogging
  • Team sports

You can even weight-train using items found on the farm such as; tyres, logs, bricks. There’s videos and more on how to turn your farm into a gym.

As you change your ways, you can look forward to benefitting mentally too. Exercise releases endorphins that can help keep your mind sharp and allow you to make quicker decisions. Research shows that regular exercise relieves stress, increases your energy levels and improves your mood .

It’s a no-brainer that your physical and mental health and overall wellbeing is key to your business. The more people you get involved, the bigger the positive impact. Reach out to friends, neighbours or staff who might join you getting fit for the farm!

 

Sources 

1. gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-obesity-and-the-food-environment/health-matters-obesity-and-the-food-environment--2

2. hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf

3. assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/528193/Eatwell_guide_colour.pdf

4. drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/alcohol-limits-unit-guidelines/

5. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

 

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