Do you sit at a desk for eight hours (or more) each day, with little to no intermittent movement? If you answered yes, then you have a sedentary job. You’re part of the more than 80% of the American workforce who have their butts glued to office chairs each day. And worse – you’re at higher risk for major health complications, like stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
I know that warning sounds pretty doom and gloom – it is, so take it seriously. The good news is that you CAN easily reduce those risks. And since May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, now is a great time to talk about how you can enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and get there with some simple, quick activities you can do anywhere… especially at work.
Take the stairs.
Pedometers, Fitbits, smartphone apps, and various other health tools can track steps and daily mileage (some even raise the fun meter with challenges and awards). One of the first things people tend to do when they lean into a healthier lifestyle is to increase their movement. This can take the form of an actual organized fitness plan or by incorporating little activities that propel you forward toward your goals; such as taking the stairs and parking a little further from the building.
If you’re a desk jockey, one of the best things you can do is to get up and move. Do it every hour if you can. This action can increase blood flow as well as your productivity. A 5-10 minute break can prevent eye strain, cramped wrists and stretch a stagnant body. If you’re the type to hyper-focus, set an alarm. What’s important here is the movement, no matter how brief – just get up and move.
Increase your water intake.
Hydrate. Do we really need to tell you why? Drinking water is good for you and will keep you hydrated. Benefits also include improving digestion and clearer skin. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip from it often. (Bonus tip: Pairing drinking water with a repetitive activity can be a good way to stay on task. So take a sip while you’re clicking away with that mouse.)
Very busy people often forget to eat. We’re not talking sugary snacks that boost your energy (and then cause a crash) throughout the day. We’re talking about healthy, good-for-you snacks that keep you feeling full and satisfied without all the calories and carbs. Studies show that several smaller meals are far better for you than one or two big meals.
The workplace can be hectic at times. Finding a moment to take a deep breath (or three) can keep the most frazzled days focused and on point. By just remembering to breathe, you will reduce stress and anxiety, slow your heart rate, and just feels good.
Get a massage.
Ok, so this one is a bit hard to do on the clock. We’ve managed to find ways around this though. Scheduling a half-hour massage on your lunch break might be just the thing to keep your mind clear and relaxed. You could go for a full treatment off the clock OR maybe you can talk “the powers that be” into recruiting some massage therapists for some seated chair massage right there in the office. You’ve worked hard, you’ve earned it!
There are so many other ways to practice healthy habits at work – from balancing poses at the copier to correcting your posture at your desk. Practicing healthy habits in the workplace is tricky. Find ways to work them in and before long you won’t even notice the extra tasks that are bringing you one step closer to a healthier you!