Updated: Jul 10, 2019
A year ago when I was still in school, we would learn in our Kinesiology classes about the tremendous difficulty of keeping the working class of America (who sits at their desks all day) active and healthy. And I used to wonder….’don’t these people know what’s good for them? Why don’t they just sit up straight, and walk around every once in a while?‘ Well, I’ve been in the working world for less than a year now and have quickly realized it’s all too easy to become absorbed by my work, slouched at my desk, snacking from the licorice tub that sits like 10 ft. away from me when I feel a little bored (oops).
If like me, you spend the majority of your day working from a desk- you may have given up long ago on finding ideas to keep up on healthy habits at work. Well, check out a few of my ideas below. While you may not practice these all the time, I hope a few of these ideas resonate with you and encourage you to be a tad more mindful during your workday.
10 Easy Ways to Make Your Workday Healthier
Watch Your Posture
People who sit at their desks on their computers or writing often hunch forward, or slouch against the back of their chair- long-term this can lead to tightness and pain in the head, neck, back, shoulders, and even your hip flexors.
Good posture involves drawing your shoulders up and back, as well as an activating your core to tighten your upper body into a neutral position. If you aren’t used to using your core and other musculature to keep you in a good postural position, it might feel uncomfortable at first. One major thing that can help with this is participating in physical activity that strengthens your core like planks, and crunches, as well as exercises that require stabilization of the core like squats, lunges, and deadlifts. If you’re looking for a few core exercises to add to your exercise routine check out 8 Exercises for Rock Hard Abs, or Build Your Own Core Routine.
Get Your Desk Set
Having a good desk setup can highly improve your posture. Make sure your chair is set so that both of your feet can be placed flat on the ground. If necessary, get a little step or stool to place your feet on. Also, make sure you don’t have to hunch to reach your keyboard, it should be at a level that is comfortable for you to reach. Finally, make sure your computer is at a height where you don’t have to scrunch or crane your neck to look at it. Keeping your screen eye level will help you keep your head straight forward. If necessary place a few books under your desktop.
If you want to go above and beyond…consider a standing desk. I happen to have one, and I actually love it and spent a lot of time standing throughout my day. Granted there are days where I opt to sit, but it’s nice to have the option. You actually don’t have to buy an entire new desk, there’s plenty of options that attach or sit right on top of the desk you already have.
Set Your Alarm Every Hour
Set your alarm so that you remember to stand up once every hour. Get up to fill your water bottle, take a trip to the bathroom, or even just take a loop around the cubicles in your office and do a few light stretches. Sitting in that same position all day can shorten up your muscles, and leave you feeling tight at the end of the day. Get up, walk it out, stretch it out, and get back to work.
Go for a Walk on Your Break
Rather than sitting at your desk and sifting through your social media accounts until your break is over- get outside! Get some fresh air in your lungs, and get your heart pumping with a little walk around your work area. A walk will burn calories, give you a good dose of Vitamin D, and help relieve stress so you’ll go back to your desk ready to tackle your next tasks with a refreshed mind and body!
Take the Stairs
If you work on the second story of a building or up, take the stairs! Stair climbing is a great way to activate muscles that aren’t used by sitting at your desk all day. It can strengthen your bones, an obvious benefit for those in their older age (especially women) at risk of osteoporosis. While it may not induce the same benefits as a 30-minute workout- everything you can do for your fitness throughout the day adds up!
At 3 PM many people experience a lull in energy- tired, lethargic, and a big fat headache. Before you reach for the afternoon caffeine to pep you up….have you drank any water today? Drinking 8-10 glasses of water throughout the day can keep you hydrated and feeling fresh, and even curb snacking.
I recommend keeping a labeled water bottle on your desk and setting goals throughout the day to finish around 5-6 of your glasses of water during your workday! You can finish off the rest in the morning and evening of your day.
Have a Healthy Snack Stash
Do you find yourself snacking out of your co-workers’ candy dish a little too often throughout the day? Keep your desk stashed with healthier snacks you can chew on to curb your snacky moods without the empty calories.
The best snacks are ones that keep you feeling satisfied, filled with protein, healthy fats, or fiber. A few of my favorites include nuts, fresh fruit, and whole grain crackers.
Schedule a Walking Meeting
Do you spend so much of your time at meetings around conference tables? If you think those in your office might be down, suggest the idea of taking your next meeting for a walk! The setting of a walk can make a meeting feel less formal, so everyone involved will feel a little more comfortable and open to revealing their more creative ideas. Plus, get all the normal benefits that walking provides!!
Sometimes during your most stressful moments at work- it seems that putting your head down and getting it done is the best and only option you have. Well before you dive in, relieve some stress by taking a few slow deep breaths! Sometimes all it takes is three deep breaths to calm us down, clear up the mind, and work more efficiently.
What are your favorite ways to be mindful of your health throughout your workday?! Share your ideas in the comments below.