A new study released earlier in 2015 by the Institute of Medicine found that sedentary behavior, such as sitting at work, increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular issues, chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and in some cases, even cancer. Being at work doesn’t mean that you have to forgo healthy habits. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate health conscious activities into your work day. And, these activities don’t have to consume a lot of time, which might be your argument against adding wellness into your work routine.
Healthy choices don’t have to interfere with your workday, they may even help your productivity.
Here are 7 ways to be healthy at work:
1. Take the stairs
You’ve heard this before, but this is an easy one: take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. While you may not be climbing enough stairs for a serious calorie burn, you are getting your heart-pumping and the blood flowing through your body. Stair climbing also requires eight to nine times more energy and burns seven times more calories than taking the elevator.
2. Pack your lunch
Eating healthy at work is not always the most convenient choice. While it may be easiest to grab something from the cafeteria or a local fast food joint, instead, try to pack a healthy lunch the night before. Not only will you be giving your body proper fuel, but you may also save some money.
And go beyond lunch — pack a variety of healthy snacks to enjoy throughout the day. Many people snack mindlessly. You may need something to tide you over to dinner but if you don’t plan ahead, you may gravitate to the vending machine. A better option would be to bring almonds, fresh fruit, or even lightly salted popcorn to snack on during work hours. Plus, you have control over the portion size.
3. Drink more water
It’s recommended that people drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, it is recommended you drink about 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. To keep properly hydrated throughout the day, bring a 20-ounce refillable water bottle to work. And for proper hydration, you should fill your 20-ounce water bottle about 5 times during the day. Not only will you be drinking what you need to, but that adds 5 more opportunities to get out of your chair.
4. Set up an ergonomic work space
If a sit-to-stand desk isn’t an option for you at your current workplace, there are ways to ergonomically optimize the space you use. You’ll want to make sure your mouse, keyboard and monitor are in an ergonomic arrangement. And be conscious of is your posture. Sit up straight and adjust your chair height so your feet can rest flat on the floor.
5. Schedule short standing breaks
If you have a FitBit, Apple Watch or Garmin, chances are you’re getting regular reminders to move throughout the day. If you don’t have one of these devices, you can still make sure you stand-up regularly with a variety of mobile apps for your smartphone. Some of the more well-known ones include Stand Up! The Work Break Timer for iPhone or Move it! for Android. Just switching from sitting to standing for a few minutes can lead to better blood flow.
6. Stretch it out
Destress a bit by doing stretches at your desk. Every hour or so, stretch your arms and neck muscles. You can do this by clenching your fists and stretching your hands straight out in front of you or rolling your neck gently from side to side. It may even be worth pulling one arm across your body, while holding your elbow and then switching. Hold each pose for about 10 to 20 seconds. Get your legs in on the action by doing leg extensions. Extend both your legs in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Do this for 15 seconds. For added stretching benefits, flex and point your toes a couple of times.
7. Work out
Instead of using your lunch hour only for eating, use your break to go for a walk or bike ride. If you enjoy company while working out, ask a friend to walk with you or ask if your company offers employee wellness activities such as yoga or pilates. Another great option is to join a local gym and participate in any exercises classes offered during your lunch break. Regardless of the activity you choose to do at lunch, make sure to still eat a well-balanced meal.
You’re probably juggling a lot at work. But unfortunately, sitting at a desk all day may have adverse effects on your health. Counteract that by keeping your health top of mind and incorporating some healthy activities into your workday. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t fit in all seven every day – just focus on what you can do to maintain your health at work!