Friday, July 4, 2008


Tips for shift workers: How to eat, and stay fit when you work unusual hours

So you are a police officer, security guard or a firefighter, a nurse, radio host or factory worker. The bottom line is that you work shift work. Your manager just posted the new schedule at work, and next week you're on the evening shift. You quickly weigh the pros and cons — you'll be able to pick up the kids from school each day. But you'll miss your kids' bath time and bedtime stories.

There's no doubt about it — shift work can be difficult. The demands of juggling alternate work hours and staying connected to family and friends can have a big impact on your health — both mentally and physically. But you can still be physically active and eat the right foods, even when you work the graveyard shift.

Exercise Tips

Shift work doesn't mean you can't exercise. Scheduling regular exercise is important — it may help improve your sleep, your energy level and your mood. Don't know if you can fit it into your day — or night? Here are some tips to get the job done

1. Work out before work. Twenty minutes of aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, jogging or swimming, on most days can help you stay alert on the job. It also keeps your heart in tip-top shape.

2. On the job. During work, use your breaks to exercise. Take a lap around your building. Shoot hoops outdoors. Keep a resistance band or hand weights at work for strength training.

3. Don't take the shortcut. Work exercise into your normal routine. Walk or bike to work instead of driving. Climb the stairs instead of riding the elevator.

4. Find a buddy. Find a co-worker and exercise together. It'll make exercising more fun and will also help keep you motivated.

Chest - Flat Bench Dumbbell - 4 sets 8-10 reps
Shoulders -Seated Dumbbell Press – 3 sets 8-10 reps
Triceps –Dumbbell Triceps Extensions – 3 sets 8-10 reps
Back - Lat Pull down – 4 sets 8-10 reps
Biceps - Barbell Curl – 3 sets 8-10 reps
Quads – Squats – 4 sets 8-10 reps
Hams - Lying Leg Curl – 3 sets 8-10 reps
Calves -Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets 15-20 reps
Abs - Reverse Crunch 3 sets 15-20 reps

Nutrition Tips

Shift workers may find it difficult to make healthy food choices because what's most readily available in the middle of the night comes from vending machines and 24-hour fast-food restaurants. Unhealthy eating isn't necessarily a given, though. Here are some tips to help you eat well:

1. Brown bag it. Bringing food from home will make you less tempted to raid the vending machines. Pack a healthy lunch that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.

2. Meal Replacements. These can be a great way to get the meal you need without having to consume fast food

3. Eat smaller portions. Aim for smaller portions, such as a couple of quick, healthy snacks, during your shift rather than eating a big meal. Shift work can interfere with your body's regular digestive routine. Eating light can reduce the chance of an upset stomach — especially if you're working through the night — because heavier meals are more difficult to digest and can give you heartburn.

4. Avoid late-night caffeine. Have caffeinated drinks before your shift or early during your shift. Avoid too much caffeine or caffeine late in your shift — it can make it hard for you to fall asleep after you get home.

Meal 1 – WAKE UP
1/2 cup oat meal
1/2 banana
3 egg whites
Bottle of water

Meal 2
1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 cup red grapes
Bottle of water

Meal 3
Sandwich with Lean Meat/Cheese/Tomato
Bottle of water

Meal 4
1 apples
1 oz walnuts
Bottle of water

Meal 5
8 oz grilled salmon
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup steam broccoli
Bottle of water

Meal 6
1 cup non fat cottage cheese
1 oz toasted almonds
Bottle of water

The ability to adjust to shift work is different for every person. You may be happy working alternate hours or you may find it extremely frustrating. If you feel that your work hours are impacting your health and well-being, it may be time to consider changing your job.

Funk Roberts

excerpts from Mayo Clinic

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