Forty hours a week sitting in a chair can take a toll on your body. Computer screens, and even good old-fashioned reading on paper, can strain your eyes. Remaining in one position for long periods, coupled with the mental stress of a workday, can lead to patterns of holding muscle tension in areas such as the neck, back and hips. On top of it all, co-workers leave bowls of candy on their desks or boxes of cake and doughnuts in the break room! How does an office worker stay healthy despite all this?
Besides talking to your HR representative about workplace wellness programs, here are 3 things you can start doing today to help ensure you feel your best:
1. Drink enough water.
“The mid-afternoon lull that many people feel at work is often due to dehydration,” says Dawn Jackson, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Fill up a 16 oz water bottle and try to finish it by lunch. Fill it up again at lunch and try to finish it by 3 pm. Try to finish a third bottle by the time you leave for the day. If you keep forgetting, set an alarm on your phone or computer that will tell you when it’s time to refill. If plain water seems boring, try adding cut up fruit to your water bottle, such as lemons, limes, oranges, strawberries, melon or cucumbers.
2. Move around as much as possible.
You might be surprised at how many ways you can sneak in movement throughout the day. For example, do you need to make some copies? Take the stairs to a copier on another floor. Waiting for your computer to load something? Stand up and reach your arms overhead, or stretch your neck, back or legs. Pace while you’re on a call.
The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes per week (or about 21 minutes per day) of moderate-intensity movement, so it’s a good idea to get in the habit of finding one or two times during your day to take a break for at least 15 minutes specifically to move your body. Take a walk around the block, find a friend who’s interested in taking a stretch break with you, or attend one of your office yoga or fitness classes.
3. Seek alternatives to unhealthy office treats.
In most offices, there is at least one person with a candy dish on his or her desk that calls your name every time you walk by. There’s also typically an abundance of treats being shared by co-workers or up for grabs in the break room on any given day. While these are kind gestures meant in the spirit of generosity, the extra calories can add up, and the sugar crashes wreak havoc on your energy levels, mood, and mental clarity.
As an alternative, try bringing some nutritious snacks for yourself to look forward to when you have the urge for a mid-day pick-me-up. Cherries, grapes, baby carrots, hummus, nuts, hard cooked eggs, or even a small piece (1-2 oz) of high-quality dark chocolate are all delicious options that will keep your energy levels much more stable, and waistline much slimmer, in the long run. If you want to take this a step further, send an e-mail out to a few of your co-workers asking if they would like to chip in for a fruit and veggie platter, or a big container of mixed nuts to share, instead of sugary treats.
With a little forethought and a few minor adjustments to daily routines, most professionals can avoid falling victim to fatigue.
Here’s to vibrant health for years to come!
Julia Workman, CYT
Julia is an experienced yogi, teacher and dancer with a passion for wellness. As the Fitness Program Director OmBody Health, she designs and implements Yoga and fitness programs for our corporate clients. You can also find her teaching powerful workshops that guide busy people toward healthier work/life integration.