Most office workers would probably be surprised to learn that each day they go to work, they may be putting their health in danger. All that time sitting, at a desk and in your commute, increases the risk of serious diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and depression. The repetitive tasks of computer and paper work take a toll on the body, and the lack of movement also affects your brain’s function by decreasing your metabolic function.
Learn more about the hidden health risks in your office and follow these tips to change up your routine and stay healthy inside the office.
Become More Active on a Daily Basis
Being inactive is the second leading cause of death in the US, so the most powerful thing you can do to stay healthy in the office is to add more activity to your day. A wearable fitness tracker can help making daily step goals fun, but you don’t have to buy fancy equipment to move more and feel better.
Throughout the day, schedule in quick breaks every hour or so. If you can, try to take a few minutes to walk around 250 steps. That might be a round trip to the washroom or just a short tour around the office. Set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to get up and move. Those little walks can add up to 2000 extra steps each day!
If you need to stay close to your desk, stand up and do some stretching. Check out ways to use your chair and desk to give your back a break from sitting and keep your muscles moving. Not only can a quick stretch prevent repetitive motion injuries by giving your body a break from typing, but it can also increase your cardiovascular flow and lower your blood pressure. Incorporating some mindfulness and breaking exercises with your stretches can improve your stress levels in a mini-yoga break that won’t take away from your work tasks.
Rethink Your Route
In any routine, there are ways to get a few extra steps or push your activity a little more. If walking to work isn’t an option, park at the far end of the lot or pick a garage a few blocks away from your office. Taking the stairs is great exercise that raises your heart rate and lowers the risk of heart disease. It doesn’t add much time to your day and strengthens back muscles with each floor you climb.
Make Downtime Active Time
Adding small activity breaks to your workday can make a difference, but adding regular exercise before or after work will provide a host of health benefits in and out of the office. Whether you train in a gym or just take long walks with your family in the evening, working out gives you more energy, improves mood and helps you focus more at work.
Set up a Healthy Work Environment
If you spend most of your day at your desk, making changes to that space can positively impact your health.
Readjust Your Chair
Lower back pain is a major problem for many office workers that results in lost work time and lower productivity. If it’s appropriate for your office culture, balance balls can be a great alternative to a traditional chair that engages your core muscles and promotes proper posture while you work. A standing treadmill, or pedal desk are also alternatives that keep you more active during your day.
Some offices can’t or won’t allow that kind of dramatic makeover of your space, so consider investing in a quality ergonomic chair that promotes good posture.
Carpel tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and arthritis can all result from long hours at a computer that isn’t set up to prevent repetitive motion injuries. If typing or data entry is major parts of your duties, ask your employer to invest in tinted screen covers, ergonomic keyboards, and proper mouse pads.
Make Healthy Choices During Lunch
For busy employees, lunch easily can turn into another hour of sitting while you eat quick but unhealthy food. Plan ahead to pack healthy lunches with lean proteins for energy and fruits and veggies to help you feel full. Grab a co-worker to walk with you and make your lunch a chance to improve your mental health too, through conversation and activity. Use the extra time you save by not waiting in line to order overpriced takeout to take a walk around the block or do a few laps up and down the stairs.
Working in an office can take a toll on your health and well-being. A few small changes to your daily routine can reduce your risk of long-term problems from inactivity and repetitive strain. Follow these tips to make your office a healthier and happier place to work.
Brent Frayser is a media relations representative for Pure Barre, who is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree of Business Administration (Major in Marketing, Minor in Management). He was born and raised in the south, is very outgoing, with a strong sense of determination. In his spare time, he enjoys: reading, writing, coaching baseball and football, and spending time with family and friends.