The modern-day office is not designed to make you healthier. This is ironic since you would be twice as productive if you enjoyed robust health. What’s more, the long-term cost of poor health is more expensive than a solid health care plan.
You may not be able to do much about an unhealthy environment: your colleagues may not be a positive example of a healthy lifestyle; the ventilation in your home or office may be poor; maybe you may not get much natural light. But, despite these things, you can adopt healthy habits.
After sitting at your desk for several hours, your shoulders and lower back hurt. Then, staring at a computer monitor makes your eyes dry. And if someone should have the cold or flu, your weak immune system will not protect you.
It’s not a pretty picture, but here are 10 ways to stay healthy at work:
- Drink water throughout the day.Take a water bottle to work and keep it on your desk. Yes, coffee, tea, and diet soda are liquid. But nothing can substitute for clean, fresh water. Why do office plants wilt? Often, it’s because someone forgot to water them. In your own way, you gum up the machine if you’re dehydrated. Don’t rely on thirst to tell you when you need to drink water. That’s actually an emergency signal. Stay hydrated by sipping on your water bottle all day. And, don’t fill it up with tap water. Tap water is often likely to be unhealthy.
- Keep a stack of healthy snacks.Don’t rely on the vending machine for an energy boost if you need to snack. Diet coke and Pop-Tart are not healthy ways to feel more energized. Instead, keep healthy snacks in your drawer. What’s a healthy snack? Try, trail mix, protein bars, or instant oatmeal.
- Bring your own brown bag.Don’t rely on your local restaurant to feed you healthy choices. Nor is it likely that your company cafeteria will supply you with nutritious meals. So, bring your own lunch. Naturally, you don’t want to fill it with microwavable food. Here are some nutrition tips from health coach Emily Littlefield that will give you an idea of how to pack your lunch: ” Eating nutrient-dense foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins is a solution to a healthy relationship with food and your body. When we eat a whole foods diet as fresh and organic as possible, eliminating white sugar, processed foods, and white flour, cravings subside and the body adjusts to the weight it is meant to be.”
- Take a quick break every 45 minutes to an hour.Use a timer to pace yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in your current project and spend hours in front of your computer. Instead, set it to beep every hour. Then do something active for 2 minutes. This will reboot your nervous system and help you be more productive throughout the day.
- Don’t sit for hours.Sitting has been called “the new smoking.” Medical experts are alarmed at how much harm the humble chair can do to your health. There is now substantial evidence that links sitting for too long with depression, diabetes, and heart disease. Because of the high medical costs associated with sitting too long, several companies now offer the option to alternate sitting with standing. A new innovation, the adjustable height stand up desks, allows employees to work while standing.
- Get some fresh air.Go outside during your break instead of hanging out in the break room. Keep your running shoes under your desk so that you can go for a brisk 15 minute walk. This will help you feel more energized because it will improve blood circulation and ease stress.
- Use ergonomic aids.Even if you do adopt the idea of using a standing desk, you will still have times when you will want to sit down. So, choose an ergonomic chair. And, since you spend a lot of time typing on your keyboard substitute your flat keyboard with one that supports your wrists. An ergonomic keyboard will reduce wrist strain.
- Find opportunities to stretch.Simple stretching exercises during the course of the day will prevent you fromaches, pains, and stiffness. Over time, these exacerbate if you neglect stretching. In addition, stretching can promote alertness and boost your energy.
- Exercise before you get to work. If you set aside time before work to exercise, the energetic burst will carry throughout your day. Try morning yoga, a brisk walk, or even a job through the neighborhood.
- Stay clear of office temptations. Often people like to contribute snacks—coffee, donuts, cookies, or candy. Politely refuse. No one will take offense if you don’t make an issue of how unhealthy these foods are. If you find yourself tempted, you should have an alternative snack plan in your desk drawer. It’s often difficult to stay healthy among people who don’t take care of themselves, but you should stand your ground and stay true to your alternative lifestyle.