Sitting and staring at a computer screen for eight-plus hours a day is the sad reality for many office workers. This sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your health over time. Luckily, introducing small, easy changes to your daily routine can vastly improve your physical and mental well-being.
1. Make your desk more functional
A few simple products can improve the comfort of your work space. Improve your balance and strengthen your core by trading in your traditional desk chair for a stability ball. Experiencing wrist pain from repetitive typing? Mouse guards and wrist braces can help prevent or alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome. Give your feet a rest by propping them up on an under-desk foot hammock to improve circulation and relieve swelling.
2. Keep your hands clean
In just one week at work, imagine how many times you touch things like bathroom door handles, elevator buttons and the lunchroom coffee pot. These common surfaces are ripe environments for bacteria. Keep illnesses at bay by storing hand sanitizer at your desk and in your briefcase or purse for those times you can’t get to a sink. Carry a handkerchief or napkin with you to open shared doors. And during times when germs are at their peak (winter months, flu season, when you yourself are sick), consider working remotely, if that option exists for you.
3. Monitor your stress levels
Between meetings, deadlines and never-ending emails, some stress is inevitable. But your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so it’s important to take steps to avoid workplace burnout. Find a secluded place, like a nearby park or a even your car, to meditate for a few minutes each day. Take advantage of vacation time to regroup and recharge. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if your stress levels are out of control.
4. Eat lunch, preferably away from your desk
Ever been hangry at work? Chances are your productivity went way down. Skipping lunch puts you at risk for headaches and irritability as your blood sugar dips too low. Come lunchtime, take a necessary break to fuel your body. And rather than eating out, brown bag it. Nutrient-rich lunch options include sandwiches or wraps using whole wheat bread and tortillas (try turkey and avocado or lean roast beef with mustard and cucumbers), salmon quinoa bowls with tons of fresh veggies, and black or white bean soups. And when it is time to eat, leave your desk. You’ll avoid consuming extra calories due to distracted eating and get the opportunity to give your mind a reboot.
5. Get your steps in
It can be easy to get so caught up in work that you don’t leave your desk all day, save for a bathroom break or two. Regular movement will keep your body limber and help you avoid the aches and pains from sitting in one position all day. Take breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just to walk up and down the hallway and stretch. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away than normal. And if you really want to up the fitness factor, walk or bike to work.
6. Drink more water
Limit your caffeine intake and guzzle more water during the day. Benefits include improved kidney and colon function, clearer skin, increased brain power and energy, and healthy weight management. Plus, it will force you to walk to the bathroom more often, adding to your daily step count.
7. Have healthy snacks nearby
When the midday slump hits, avoid hitting up the vending machine. Instead, reach for energy-inducing bites like nuts, Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. Foods high in sugar and preservatives may give you a temporary energy boost, but the crash after will leave you feeling more sluggish than before.
8. Skip happy hour
Whether you’re meeting with clients or simply unwinding with co-workers, after-hours networking can be an essential extension of your work day. But calories from alcohol provide no nutritional value. Order a decoy drink like a club soda with lime, which comes in at less than 20 calories. If you must imbibe, limit yourself to one or two drinks with lower calorie counts — a vodka soda or a rum and Diet Coke come in at less than 100 calories each, and an old fashioned or a gin and tonic are less than 150 calories each.
If a trip to the gym isn’t in the cards that day (or that week), perform low-impact exercises right at your desk instead with resistance bands and small hand weights. Simple neck, leg and core stretches can fight off muscle tension and sore limbs, and stress balls pull double duty by improving your mental state while strengthening your hand muscles.
Product spotlight — The tools you need to get your health back on track
Isokinetics Inc. Adjustable Fitness Ball Chair
Imak Ergo NonSkid Mouse Cushion
VIVE wrist brace
Fuut Under-Desk Foot Hammock
CleanWell Natural Hand Sanitizer Spray
Physix Gear Sport Resistance Loop Bands
$15 (set of 4)
Technogym Wellness Weights
Serenilite Hand Therapy Stress Ball