Don’t Just Sit There: How to Stay Healthy at Your Desk Job
Staying healthy can be hard even in the best of circumstances, but especially so for those who are restricted to a desk for 8 or more hours a day. A healthy lifestyle combines many different things, from a healthy diet to exercising to getting enough rest. Here are some tips to increase your health and well-being even if you sit at a desk all day.
1. Bring your own lunch to work
Aim to pack a lunch Monday-Thursday, and then give yourself Fridays to eat out during the week. Not only will you save tons of money, but you will most likely end up eating much healthier options when you’ve planned ahead. It’s also a good idea to have a few healthy snacks stocked at your desk for those mid-morning and late afternoon cravings. Nuts or rice cakes and peanut butter are good options to have on hand!
2. Get up and stretch your legs
Try to take a break at least every hour to get up and walk around. Whether it’s to refill your water bottle, take a bathroom break, or just to take a lap around the office, taking a little walk will give you a mental break and get your blood circulating. Also, it will help you get a few steps in to reach your daily goal and stretch out your legs. There are even some stretches that can be done at your desk; give these a try!
- Breathe in deeply and bring your shoulders up to your ears, breathe out and drop your shoulders. Repeat 3 times.
- Tilt your chin as far forward as you can and relax your head down, hold for a few seconds and then slowly lift your head back up. Then gently tilt your head back and lift your chin. Drop your left ear to your left shoulder, then slowly switch sides and drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Repeat for each side.
- Hold on to the seat of your chair and extend both legs out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Flex your toes and point them 5 times, hold and repeat.
- Squeeze your hand into fists and stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Draw small circles in the air with your fists for 20 seconds, then repeat, switching directions.
3. Change up your desk
Sitting for too long puts stress on your spine, and hunching over a keyboard strains your neck, back, and shoulders. Try sitting on a balance ball while you work, it will help your posture and keep your core engaged. If you want to take it a step further, consider asking the HR department at your office for an ergonomic workspace. Options can range from desk treadmills to standing desks.
4. Work with your environment
Do your best to squeeze in a workout before or after work, or even try to get moving over your lunch break. Even if it’s just a half hour of speed walking, the mental and physical benefits from exercise are tremendous. If you can’t squeeze a workout in some days, fit in exercise in other ways. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park your car in the back of the parking lot. Rather than emailing a coworker, get up and walk over to their desk.
5. Stay hydrated
Water keeps your body running smoothly. Keep some water on your desk and try to drink it continuously throughout the day. Use mint, lemon, or cucumber to add in some extra flavor. Doctors recommend 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day, but that can vary by environment, weight, diet and exercise. Just remember to keep yourself hydrated with fresh water!
6. Wash your hands
Germs can spread like wildfire in an office, so be sure to wash your hands often. It’s also a good idea to keep hand sanitizer nearby and use disinfecting wipes every few days to keep door handles, light switches, and desks clean.
7. Give your eyes a break
Be sure that you’re taking care of your eyes throughout the work day, as staring at a computer for extended periods can be strenuous on your eyes. Try to take a mini break every 20 minutes or so, even if it’s just closing your eyes for a few seconds or looking away for a moment. The American Optometric Association recommends a 15-minute break for every 2 hours of computer use. Here are some tips to give your eyes a break:
- Looking into the distance relaxes the interior muscles of the eye. Gaze at a distant object for at least 20 seconds to relax your eyes.
- Stare at a faraway object for 10-15 seconds, then turn your gaze to something close to you for another 10-15 seconds. Repeat this several times to reduce the stress on your eyes.
Additionally, the AOA recommends that “The computer screen should be 15-20 degrees below eye level (about 4-5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20-28 inches from the eyes.”
Following these simple tips and tricks can help you stay healthy in the office. Share some of the ways you are mindful of your health and wellness in the office with us in the comments section below!
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