Admit it: The typical workplace is hazardous to your health. You have access to bottomless coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. There are vending machines that gurgle out chips and sweets that you shouldn’t eat on a regular basis. You spend around six hours sitting on your butt, practically glued to your workstation. Having a sedentary desk job is terribly bad for our health, and it’s linked to an increased risk of disease, including obesity and heart problems. It’s high time that you do something when it comes to managing stress at work.
Photo courtesy sharyn morrow/Flickr
Sitting for prolonged periods of time is disastrous for your well-being. The human body was not designed to be idle, according to doctor James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative. “Lack of movement slows metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy and thus promoting fat accumulation, obesity, and the litany of ills—heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more—that comes with being overweight. Sitting is bad for lean people, too.”
As a regular office worker, how can you rectify this unfortunate situation without quitting your job? Luckily for you, there are lots of things you can do to get healthy, even if you’re stuck in the office. Ever wonder how Call-Center Agents get fit despite their schedule and workload? A little patience and resourcefulness are all it takes to begin your wellness journey. Here are some tips on how to stay fit, despite your office job.
1. Ditch the Car, if You Can
This is a splendid idea, given the horrendous traffic in the metro. If you live nearby and getting some cardio on your way to the office will not be detrimental to your health, why not walk or bike to work? You can get your heart pumping early in the day and you will save lots of money in the process. If your house is too far for walking or commuting, try parking your car a few blocks away and walk to the office when you alight from your vehicle. When you get to your building, don’t head for the elevator—take the stairs instead.
Photo courtesy Jackie.lck/Flickr
2. Get a Standing Desk
Because health problems are caused by sitting all the time, getting a standing desk is a wonderful solution to the problem. Working while standing may seem crazy and tiring, but it actually has many great benefits—some say it allows them to concentrate better, while some say it does a lot for the posture. This may not be easy for you at the start, but you can go slowly at first; begin working on the standing desk for 30 minutes, and then go for an hour. Gradually work your way up until you can spend most of your desk time standing up.
Photo courtesy Juhan Sonin/Flickr
3. Use a Fitness Ball as a Work Chair
Using a stability ball is a great way to improve your balance and burn some calories at the same time. Just like the standing desk, this may take some time to get used to, but once you hit the sweet spot, you’re going to reap the benefits. You’ll work on your core muscles while at the same time working on your monthly reports. It’s hitting two birds with one stone here. During your breaks, you can even use the fitness ball to squeeze in some wall squats or other exercises.
Photo courtesy Eli Sagor/Flickr
4. Bring Your Own Food
No more stopping by McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and fries. Prepare your own meals and bring them to work. Just like other health and fitness initiatives, it will take some practice and time management to be able to do this and incorporate it seamlessly into your routine, but hey: No pain, no gain.
It’s best to plan your meals ahead of time (the weekend is the best time to do it), cook or prepare them in advance, and stock them in the fridge so you can just reheat them in the office when it’s time to eat. Preparing your own food allows you to control your portions, choose healthier ingredients and stick to a particular budget. Not having to worry about your meals for the entire week will bring you less stress and allow you to stick to healthier eating habits.
Photo courtesy daveynin/Flickr
5. Don’t Stash Junk Food in Your Station
Most of us tend to reach for salty chips or sweet candy bars that are available whenever work stress kicks in. Before we know it, we’ve already consumed unhealthy amounts of calories that we’re supposed to avoid in the first place. Eliminate the temptation by removing junk food in your work station. If you must snack on something while working, try eating fruits instead, although we don’t advise finishing five servings of fruit in just one sitting.
Photo courtesy Global Panorama/Flickr
6. Get a Fitness Buddy
Getting fit and healthy in the workplace is a lot easier if you can do it with a colleague who has the same goals as you. Motivation buddies can do a lot for your determination, especially during those times when you’re tempted to skip a workout and just slack off. If you know someone who goes jogging after office hours, try joining him and establish a schedule.
Photo courtesy Brian Cribb/Flickr
7. Bring Exercise Gear to Work
This is a great idea, especially if you barely have the time to go to the gym after work. Use whatever free time you have in the office to do some quick exercises that packs in lots of effort in short sessions. Keep a couple of dumbbells or exercise mat in your drawers. Whenever you’re feeling stressed at work, relieve the tension by lifting weights or doing some push-ups. This sure beats reaching for your eleventh cup of coffee for the day just to get by.
Photo courtesy Mariam S/Flickr
Nothing is impossible for the determined office worker who truly wants to make a lifestyle change. Not having the time or means to go to the gym isn’t an excuse anymore. Make use of the time and resources you have and maximize them so you can exercise and eat right on a regular basis even in the busy confines of your office.
Aby League is a medical practitioner and an Elite Daily writer. She also writes about business and other topics of great interest. She also writes a blog, About Possibilities. Follow her @abyleague and circle her on Google+.