Sitting for long periods, poor eating habits and bad posture can take a toll on your health and wellbeing. Yet many of us spend eight hours or more at work a day like this with stressful deadlines, nightmare customers, and late nights added to the mix. And even the Friday afternoon doughnuts, or birthday cupcakes we often see as treats are doing our immune system and our waistline more harm than good.
Here’s 10 ways you can improve your health at work.
1. Count your steps – fitness trackers are a great place to start, and there are now plenty out there to choose from. As you start to see your step count increase, you’ll be motivated to do more. Take the stairs over the lift for an easy boost. Park the car further away on the car park, or get off the bus a stop early. Instead of emailing or calling colleagues, talk to them face to face, it will be more efficient as well as boosting steps and burning calories.
2. Stand more – consider making your daily meeting a standing one. You will be using more muscles and energy by standing, improving your posture, and you will ensure the meeting doesn’t run over.
3. Get social – whether its football, netball, tennis or rounders, doing exercise as a group is a great way to get fit and stay motivated. If you can organise a corporate event, you’ll get to meet people from all sectors and improve company bonding at the same time. Suggest some activities that might work, or set up your own sports team.
4. Snack smarter – step away from the vending machine or canteen and take your own snacks instead. Try nuts, fresh or dried fruit, veg sticks with humous, or rice cakes, which are all easy to keep in your draw.
5. Stay hydrated – it’s vital to stay hydrated to keep up your productivity, energy levels and focus throughout the day. Opt for a smaller bottle or glass – you’ll need to get up more to refill it, keeping you active, boosting steps and giving you regular screen breaks.
6. Take your breaks – remember the lunch time rule; Leave Your Desk! Whether you go for a walk round the block, or sit in a communal area, it’s essential to have some downtime away from emails, computer screens and phones. Stepping outside everyday will ensure you get your daily dose of vitamin D, talking a brisk walk is invigorating, whilst sitting calmly for a few minutes of meditation surrounded by nature will add some calm to a hectic day. Whatever you choose to do, research shows that stepping away from your desk at lunch boosts happiness levels.
7. Eat light for lunch – plan your meals for the week and take some time out the night before to pack a healthy lunch. Make sure to include some lean protein, salad, and fresh veggies to boost energy and avoid the mid-afternoon slump.
8. Keep your workspace clean – the average desk harbours hundreds of times more bacteria than a toilet seat, yuk! Keep your work area neat and organised, tidy up at the end of each day, and keep sanitising wipes and spray in your desk to wipe down surfaces regularly.
9. Manage stress – as well as the lunchtime breaks and eating properly, we need to more effective stress management outside of the office too. In today’s modern, face paced society, companies require employees to do more with less resources, and we can often feel overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. Whether it’s a Spa day, time with family, or a good book, find what works for you, and take time out for it. Stress can impair your immune system and increase your risk of illness, so a longer holiday is also essential to relax and recharge your batteries.
10. Watch your posture – sitting incorrectly for hours, and slumping in chairs can be bad for posture and lead to back pain, headaches and Tension Neck syndrome (TNS) – where neck and upper shoulders are fixed in an awkward position for long periods of time, for example, those who talk on the phone a lot, or type all day. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain, muscle tightness and tenderness. Use a speakerphone, shoulder cradle or headset at work when you are on the phone. Stretching is important and will increase blood flow and relax those tense muscles.
The most important way to stay healthy at work is to be self-aware. Know your limits and do your best to stay within these limits at work. Know when to take breaks and holidays, and get plenty of exercise, good food and water throughout the day.
Make sure you take care of yourself and maintain a healthy balance.
Look after your body, it’s the only place you have to live.