6 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work
Busy work days, scheduled meetings, and long business hours can derail your best efforts for staying healthy at work. But with a bit of planning and preparation you can set up your whole work week so you stay fit and healthy every day at work.
All it takes is a bit of planning to ensure you stick to your healthy lifestyle. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
1. Pack your lunch
It may sound simple, but making sure you have a healthy lunch every day is as important to your waistline as it is to your health.1 Every week plan to shop for healthy ingredients to pack in your lunches. If your 11 a.m. meeting runs overtime, you’ll be prepared and avoid the trap of ordering takeout food.
2. Resist workplace treats
Donuts, cookies, and cupcakes are abundant in the workplace. At times it’s impossible to resist. Allow yourself one cheat treat per week and the rest of the time, stick to your healthy options. Keep your desk drawer stocked up with healthy treats like protein bars, nuts, seeds, and granola bars. Eating nutritious snacks is a great way to help maintain a healthy body weight.2 You can also bake a few of your own healthy goodies to share with your colleagues. Otherwise politely decline workplace goodies and resist the temptation of the vending machine. Eating too much sugar and saturated fat will only increase your risk of adverse health factors.3
3. Organize a walking group
Recent research tells us that sitting for too long is bad for our health, even if you’re fit and healthy.4 The problem is most jobs require you to sit all day – at your computer, in meetings, and on the commute. So what can you do? Set yourself a reminder on your phone to get up and take a 5-minute brisk walk every 30 minutes. According to the latest study on this subject, people who sat for less than 30 minutes had a 55% lower risk of early mortality.5
You could use this time to speak to colleagues face to face instead of via phone or email. Get everyone at work involved so you’re not alone. Organize a lunchtime walking group with some of your work colleagues to keep you active and accountable. It’s always a good idea to get some exercise during the lunch hour so you don’t end up sitting and eating at your desk. Exercise is good for your heart and moving is better than sitting.
4. Stay hydrated throughout the day
Not only will drinking water throughout the day help you keep your coffee consumption in check, it is essential to your good health. Every living cell in your body requires water to function. It helps with temperature regulation, skin health, and cognitive performance.7 According to The Institute of Medicine’s Water Intake Recommendations, how much water you need depends on age, gender, activity level and total fluid intake through food. On average, they recommend drinking 13 cups of water for adult males and 9 cups for adult females.11
5. Reduce workplace stress
Taking care of your health will certainly help with your stress levels, but sometimes stress in the workplace is unavoidable. Long hours, heavy workloads, job insecurity, and workplace stress is a day-to-day reality for most people and can lead to serious health factors.8 To help you sail through, here are some coping strategies to consider:
- Develop a clear outline of job priorities
- Learn to manage daily interruptions
- Avoid office gossip and conflict
- Speak to your supervisor when serious issues arise
- Define your boundaries outside working hours regarding emails and texts
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or squeezing a stress ball
- Get a good night’s sleep
6. Keep your workspace organized, comfortable, and germ-free
Take a few minutes to set up your workstation so you’re sitting at the right height and distance from your computer. Organize your desk so your computer monitor is at eye level and adjust your chair so your elbows are at a 90° angle. With proper posture and ergonomics, you can avoid unnecessary back pain or eye strain from working at a computer all day.9
It’s also important to keep your workstation tidy and clean. The average workstation is a notorious breeding ground for germs. From your keyboard and mouse to your phone and computer screen, millions of bacteria exist that could make you very sick. Get into the habit of disinfecting your workstation at least once a week and always observe a healthy hand-washing protocol.10
With a little planning and preparation you can make it easier to stay healthy at work, because your good health is not something to be taken sitting down!
5 Diaz KM, Howard VJ, Hutto B, Colabianchi N, Vena JE, Safford MM, et al. Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A National Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. ;167:465–475.
10 Maanasa Joga, MSc Enzo A. Palombo, PhD Environment and Biotechnology Centre Faculty of Life and Social Sciences Swinburne University of Technology Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Removal of contaminating bacteria from computers by disinfection and hand sanitation. American Journal of Infection Control 40 (2012) 389-90.
- Blog Contributor