1 Thing You Can Do Today

Go for an early morning walk

The internet is full of body hacks, miracle mornings and convoluted ways to supercharge our days.

It is easy to think that unless you can rise before dawn and mediate and write and do yoga and take an icebath and do a 10km run, then you might as well not bother.

But what if there was a simple way that is also free, quick, can be done anywhere and requires no special skills – or even special clothes? The benefits of an early morning walk are enormous:

1. Energy boost

Even a short walk boosts your energy. In fact, one study showed that 10 minutes of walking up stairs was more energising than a cup of coffee.

2. Mood boost

Regular walking (even just for 20-30 minutes) will reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

3. Heart health

Walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 19 per cent.

4. Mental clarity

A study of older adults found a morning walk increased cognitive function. Other research shows a walk outside boosts creativity.

5. Better sleep

Exercise in the morning promotes better sleep than exercise later in the day.

Your Guide to Sun Safety

You cannot see it or feel it. It can pass through clouds or lightly woven material and, likes asbestos and tobacco, can cause cancer. Here is how to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

For anyone who works outside, UVR is a potential workplace hazard. It can cause lasting damage to eyes and skin and is the main cause of skin cancer. You do not even have to work in direct sunlight to be affected as UVR can be reflected off certain materials, such as concrete, metal, snow and sand.

Manage the risk

Like any hazard, risks associated with exposure to UVR must be eliminated as much as possible.

Some recommendations:

  • Working indoors if possible.
  • Replacing the hazard with a safer option. This could be working during the early morning and late afternoon when the risk of UVR exposure is lower.
  • Isolating the risk, such as working undercover or in a well-shaded area.
  • Using engineering controls. These are physical control measures to minimise the risk from UVR, such as permanent shade structures, or altering a surface to be less reflective.

Use your PPE

It is not always possible to avoid exposure to UVR so it is important to protect yourself with personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes:

  • UPF 50+ clothing. UVR can pass through lighter colours or lightly woven fabrics. An everyday white cotton T-shirt has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of only about 5, which is why you need to wear clothing that is designed to block at least 98 per cent of UVR.
  • Broad brimmed hats or hard hats with brims/flaps.
  • At least SPF 30+ broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen. Do not rely on sunscreen alone – always use it with other sun protection control measures. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or more if sweating.

Want to know your risk on any given day?

Try the World Health Organization recommended SunSmart Global UV app available at both the Apple App and Google Play stores.

Everyone’s Talking About HIIT. Should You Be Doing It?

HIIT’s promise seems too good to be true: get fit and strong in half the time. Is it true? And is it right for you?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It involves short sharp bursts of extreme activity, followed by a short rest. Then repeat.

An example is running on the spot very fast for one minute, followed by one minute rest.

When compared with continuous moderate exercise (CME) such as running or walking, studies show HIIT gives similar fitness benefits in a shorter time.

So what are the real advantages of HIIT, and are there any disadvantages?

Advantages of HIIT

  • Fat loss

For most people, HIIT is better for weight loss than moderate exercise.

High intensity interval training has been shown to significantly reduce subcutaneous fat, especially abdominal fat, as well as total body mass.

A 1994 study showed that a HIIT program resulted in a nine-fold greater reduction in body fat compared to a continuous moderate exercise program, with a more recent study from 2008 finding a similar result.

  • Cardiovascular health and fitness

Harvard Health says HIIT boosts cardiovascular fitness and produces equal or greater improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar compared with moderate-intensity exercise.

Plus, HIIT has been shown to result in a reduced risk of cardiovascular events in both males and females.

  • Convenience

A HIIT workout is quick. You can improve your fitness in less time than with other types of workouts.

You don’t need special equipment. You can do HIIT at home with just your body weight.

Disadvantages of HIIT

  • It’s not comfortable

You’ll feel your muscles burn and your lungs pushed beyond your normal state.

  • You need to be motivated

Because you have to push yourself, it’s hard to do HIIT when you’re feeling flat. In these cases, you might find it useful to do a free HIIT workout on YouTube or try a HIIT class at the gym.

As always, the best exercise for you is the one you will actually do. So give HIIT a go, and see if you like it.

If you’re just starting out, ease into it. For example, switch between 30 seconds of very high-intensity activity and two to three minutes of slower activity. You can look for ‘Beginner HIIT’ workouts on YouTube or at your local gym.

Are You Overwhelmed by Email?

We all know the feeling. No matter how many times you respond, delete, or move your emails, the number of unread, unsorted and unanswered ones keep building. The result is stress – every single time you open your inbox.

“Email has become the biggest and worst interrupter the universe has ever experienced,” says Marsha Egan, a workplace productivity coach and author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. ‘It’s cheap, it’s immediate, and you can copy 200 people if you want to.”

Not only that, says Cary Cooper, organisational psychology professor at UK’s Manchester University, but the added stress affects our health.

“Email overload is causing people to get ill,” he says. “It’s a great way to keep in touch with people, particularly who are remote,” he says. “It’s a great way to send data, to send information. By itself it’s fine – it’s the way people are using it that’s the problem.”

Get smarter with your email by putting up some boundaries.

  • Avoid opening each email as it arrives

Instead, process them in a batch, preferably just a few times a day. If this is not possible for you, then check email between other things, rather than while you are focusing on a specific task.

  • Stick to ‘the four Ds’.

Egan recommends this technique for every email you receive: do, delete, delegate or defer. If you can deal with it within two minutes, do it. Defer if it will take longer, popping it in a folder to which you return later. The key is to deal with each message before moving on to the next, to stop them all piling up unread. If you can, delegate the email to someone else, and always delete emails you do not need.

  • Turn off notifications.

Constant dings telling you that you have mail makes it almost impossible to stay focused, and your productivity will plunge.

  • Find and delete.

There are easy ways to filter out messages you can quickly delete – for instance, any that you are copied in on that are more than three days old.

  • Unsubscribe.

Those newsletters that you thought you should read but never do? Delete and unsubscribe. The same goes for emails from shops you once bought from, or restaurants you once ate at. It takes a little longer than deleting, but you only have to do it once.