Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.Jim Rohn
Nothing is more important than our health. Building a healthy body will encourage and support us to live our lives to the fullest. Undertaking regular exercise and relaxation will improve both our physical and mental health. Eating nutrient dense foods by increasing our fruit and vegetable intake will keep our bodies functioning at their best. Sleep is also important and we need to ensure we get enough every night. Being proactive about our health and having regular health checks with our healthcare providers enables us to gain control of our health.
The University of Adelaide provides a range of programs and resources to support staff in their health and wellbeing goals.
Building healthy bodies
Eating for health
Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnectedT. Colin Campbell
To achieve good health and maintain a healthy weight we need to eat nutritionally dense foods to meet your energy needs. We can do this by increasing our fruit and vegetable intake and limiting our consumption of processed foods. The best drink for health is water.
- Children and adolescents should eat sufficient amounts of nutritious foods to grow and develop normally. They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly.
- Older people should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.
- Rather than thinking about the latest diet, try to maintain a healthy weight with healthy food choices and sufficient physical activity in your daily life.
- We burn more kilojoules in the early part of the day. Eating a large breakfast, medium sized lunch and small dinner is more effective for maintaining a healthy weight.
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Staying physically active
Once you are doing exercise regularly, the hardest thing is to stop it.Erin Gray
A key message of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) dietary guidelines is to prevent weight gain by eating according to your energy needs. For those who have sedentary jobs and lifestyles, planned physical activity is important not only to burn kilojoules but also to maintain or increase lean muscle mass. More lean muscle increases total energy expenditure.
The NHMRC advises we follow international recommendations to include 45-60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity daily to avoid becoming overweight. People who were obese but have now lost their excess weight may need 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day to maintain their weight loss. This along with increasing your consumption of low kilojoule density foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes) will help us stay within a healthy weight range.
Physical activity provides benefits for both the body and mind. The World Health Organisation recommends that adults (18 – 64 years of age) participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. However, as we spend a lot of our waking time at the workplace it is easy to see why many people are failing to meet this target.
The benefits of psychical activity include
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Offering protection from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and various cancers
- Assisting us maintain a healthy mind - exercise releases endorphins which can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress and help us feel more positive and energised
Here are some tips to get more exercise into your life (remember to check with your doctor, if you are overweight or over 40 years of age or have any serious health condition, to determine what is suitable exercise for you):
- If you are commuting to work, try getting off a stop earlier and walk that last stop. You will increase your steps with little effort. Maybe you could walk, run or cycle to work.
- Leave your desk at lunch time even if it is only for 10 minutes and go for a walk or a gym class. Take time to relax and breathe fresh air!
- Make an exercise appointment in your diary. Schedule some time each week for you to do an exercise class, go for a walk, run or cycle. Or if you prefer, Bupa provide some on-line workouts for you to try.
- Have a standing meeting or even a walking meeting with your colleagues.
- Join a gym - for some people actually paying for the membership means they will attend.
- Start with small steps. Have a five minute walk every second day to start and then increase it each week until you are going for a daily walk of 15+ minutes.
- Bring a friend along. It is much more fun to exercise with company and you are more likely to exercise if you have committed to a friend.
- Take the stairs at work. You may like to start with a single flight initially and build up. Putting incidental exercise into your work day is a great way to improve your health and fitness.
- Try a dance class.
Whatever you do, have fun and remember to just start!
Limiting alcohol consumption
New draft government guidelines recommend having no more than four standard drinks on any one day and no more than 10 standard drinks in a week. The guidelines aim to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol and reflects the most recent and best available evidence on the health effects of alcohol consumption.
Below are approximate measures of a standard drink*
- 285 mL of full strength beer (4.8% alc. vol)
- 375mL of mid strength beer (3.5% alc. vol)
- 425 mL of low strength beer (2.7% alc. vol)
- 100 mL of wine (red - 13% alc. vol, and white – 11.5% alc. vol)
- 100 mL of champagne (12% alc. vol)
- 30 mL of spirits (40% alc. vol)
- 275 mL bottle of ready-to-drink beverage (5% alcohol content)
*Australian food labelling law requires all packaged alcohol to include the number of standard drinks on its label. A standard drink is equivalent to 10g of alcohol per serve and can vary in size depending on the concentration.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.Mark Twain
Quitting smoking at any age will help to improve your health.
Once you stop smoking
- You will reduce your chances of developing cancer and heart disease
- Your fitness will improve
- You will increase your chances of living longer and spending quality time with your family and friends
- You won’t be exposing your family, friends or pets to dangerous second-hand smoke
- You will save money
Resources are available to assist you to stop smoking. Alternatively, you can speak with your GP or contact UniCare for an appointment with a doctor. Smoke Free University is available to staff and students.
The University has developed a support program for staff through our Employee Assistance Providers.
Sleep is the best meditationDalai Lama
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good sleep hygiene. Try to keep the following sleep practices on a consistent basis:
- A mindful movement practice to help you wind down at the end of the day for a gentle sleep.
- Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual (mindfulness or gratitude practice). A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright light helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement.
- If you have trouble sleeping try toavoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
- Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day but not at the expense of your sleep.
- Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 15 and 19 degrees Celcius and also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses.
- Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep and eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep.
- Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so
- spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep. The particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. Try to reduce the amount of blue light emitted from your device.
- If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
- If you’re still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or to find a sleep professional. You may also benefit from recording your sleep in a Sleep Diary to help you better evaluate common patterns or issues you may see with your sleep or sleeping habits.
Improve your medical health profile
It is health that is the real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.Mahatma Gandhi
The best way to stay healthy is to understand and care for your own health, understand your own risk factors and family history. Regular health checks are an important tool to continue to remain healthy and address issues as they arise.
Making an appointment with The University Health Practice, North Tce Campus, for a wellbeing health check is a good place to start. This health check will be bulk-billed with your valid Medicare card.
What is involved in a wellbeing health check?
- 30-40 minutes with the nurse and GP.
- Diabetes risk assessment
- Blood Pressure, Weight, BMI
- Medical history
- Blood tests if required
As we move outside more we may be joined by mosquitoes. Here are some tips to protect ourselves from mosquitoes:
- A breeze is a deterrent to a mosquito. If outside pick a breezy spot to sit. Another option is to have a fan on, positioned to create a down wind.
- Mosquitoes tend to be out more at dawn and dusk so especially during these times, use a mosquito repellent or cover up with tightly woven, light coloured clothing. Mosquitoes tend to be attracted to darker clothing and also can bite through clothing (even tight fitting jeans).
- Try to stay cool, as mosquitoes are drawn to our pheromones which we release in our sweat. As this can be difficult to achieve in a hot summer, ensure you utilise a repellent especially during dawn and dusk.
- Remove any standing water around your home. This can be an attractive place for mosquitoes to breed.
- If you have mosquitoes in your yard, avoid wearing scents such as perfume or scented soap.
- There is thought that some plants may assist in repelling mosquitoes. These include lemon grass, basil, marigolds, lavender and citronella. These may help, but even if they don’t, you do have the basis of a good salad!
- Try citronella candles and oils, but it is important to note that their smoke is a barrier between you and the mosquito. Ideally candles should be set down low (if safe to do so) to prevent mosquitoes biting low on your legs and ankles.
Skin health checks
The University of Adelaide is offering a limited number of skin health checks to continuing, fixed-term and casual staff.
Everyone has the right to a safe environment and to participate in a life without fear. Your safety is a high priority for the University. A few simple Safe Steps can help reduce your risk and enhance your safety. Remember, if you are a victim of a crime you are never responsible, regardless of the circumstances. The offender is 100% responsible for their offending.
If this article raises any issues for you, the University’s Employee Assistance services are available.
Below are simple tips to stay physically safe as you walk to your bus, car or home.
Keep your keys ready
Even if it's a quick jaunt from your front door to your car, it's a good idea to keep your keys ready at all times. Hold on to them inside your pocket, then bring them out holding the proper key in position as you approach your car or front door. This will eliminate fumbling around in your purse or pocket for them outside, as this will distract you from your surroundings.
Walk with confidence
Walk with confidence and purpose when you're out solo. Keep your head up and don't be afraid to make eye contact with those you pass. Walk at a steady pace and walk facing traffic to keep yourself visible. If you get lost, don't wander aimlessly. Keep your pace steady and head for the nearest shop or restaurant to ask for directions.
Trust your gut
When out alone at night, your instincts are your best friend. If you are worried someone is following you, turn around. Let the person know you're aware of their presence. Don't head straight for your car or home, but go to a nearby shop or restaurant, somewhere public and safe.
Know what to do in the worst-case scenario
The best defence against an attack is awareness and action. If you are faced with an uncomfortable or dangerous situation and you can escape, do so immediately. Only you can determine what you can or will do when faced with an attacker. Self-defence moves and tips can be found from various web sources, or through community self-defence classes.
Avoid struggling with lots of bags
Struggling with five different bags at night as you make your way into the house can be a fact of life, but you should avoid it whenever possible. Multiple bags can prevent your ability to react quickly should a dangerous situation arise.
Avoid hiding spots
Parked cars, dark alleys and unlit corners of multistory car parks are all places that you should avoid when you're out alone. Keep yourself in visible places on the footpath or street as much as possible.
Maintain your personal safety on campus
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Ensure others know of your plans when travelling
- If you can, travel with others
- Use the most public, well lit path
- Have a whistle or alarm to alert people if you come across any danger
- Save the number of Security or Emergency Services on your mobile phone
- Do not leave personal items such as iPads, Macbooks, laptops, mobile phones, bags and wallets unattended
- If you see anything or anyone who looks suspicious, please contact Security immediately.
- Report any incidents where you felt unsafe
Safety online while using social media
While social media and chatting online are a great way to stay in touch there are also risks in using these platforms.
Some of the risks can include:
- Finding yourself saying or doing things that you would not normally do in person
- Being exposed to cyberbullying or online abuse
- Not protecting your personal information and then finding your online accounts, or even your identity, is at risk
Here are some simple tips on how can we protect ourselves and demonstrate to our younger family members how to stay safe on line:
- Adjust your privacy settings so that only your close friends can see what you post. The eSafety guide from the Australian Government eSafety Commissioner provides more detail.
- Don’t share your personal information. One way to do this is to set strong passwords of between 12-20 characters. Use a password manager to assist you.
- Remember that something you share today will be around for a long time. Ask yourself, is this something I want people to see in the future? Once you have shared something you have no control on how long it stays online and where it may end up.
- Look out for things that don’t add up with a new online ‘friend’. Maybe information on their profile is not consistent with what they are saying.
- Check your privacy settings to ensure you protect your personal information.
The Australian Government eSafety Commissioner provides information for parents or carers on the risks of social media.
Further information for University of Adelaide staff can be found through Information, Technology and Digital Services.
Bupa online health assessment
Complete an online health assessment to see a snapshot of your current health status. Register and log in to take the assessment.
More wellbeing resources
Please contact the Central HSW Workplace Wellbeing Specialist