Unfortunately for most of us, work involves sitting behind a desk for many hours a day, generally staying rather static. This can play havoc with our wellbeing and effectiveness. Here are some tips, some quite radical, to avoiding the pitfalls of office work…
Everyday workers often find themselves with so little spare time and therefore have scarce opportunity to get fit and healthy outside of work. With such a slow lifestyle, there are many health risks we are vulnerable to. Obesity, diabetes, poor eye sight, back strain and heart disease are common issues for desk workers. But there are plenty of things which can be done to keep us in shape, even at work.
It might seem like stating the obvious, but it’s true, and worth repeating: eating well at work will not only increase your productivity, but will help prevent long term problems.
Eating foods with more protein and fewer sugars will help you stay focused for longer throughout the day, avoiding the mid-afternoon slump that many of us experience. Try to include lots of fibre in your breakfast, as it will keep your metabolism more efficient.
Drinking lots of water is a key strategy. Not only does it hydrate you and flush toxins out of the body, but it also, surprisingly, staves off hunger. This is because you feel tired when you are dehydrated, so your body asks you to provide calories by making you feel hungry.
Finally, if you need a snack, don’t resist! Instead choose something healthy to keep you going. Then your metabolism is kept busy. Added bonus: you’re less likely to choose an unhealthy lunch.
To recap: More protein. More fibre. Less sugar. More water. Healthy snacks.
Sort out that posture
Most people don’t realise how bad slouching is for you. Although slouching might seem comfy and more relaxing, it interferes with your circulation and digestive system. Long term slouching can lead to arthritis, abnormal spine alignment and bursitis. Here are some tips to improve your posture at work:
- Take a breath, fill up your chest, put your shoulders back and sit down. You should try and make this your most natural position.
- It might be hard to carry this one out and it’s not very conventional, but there are some enormous benefits to having a standing workstation. Regular small movements regulate your metabolic rate, increasing fat burning enzymes. This can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. When your body needs to fidget, your mind also struggles to focus. So keeping active can also focus your mind, keeping you as productive as possible.
- The usual desk assessments can, of course, make a big difference to your physical wellbeing. Adjustments such as ergonomic keyboards, specialist chairs for good posture, and correct screen height can make a genuinely massive impact on your comfort.
Do regular low impact activity
It might go against your current workplace culture, but doing low impact activity around the office could be a great way to simply keep your metabolism up and burn fat. Developing a routine of walking around the office, or standing up and sitting down at regular intervals can get your blood pumping. Many forward-thinking companies around the world now have formal exercise sessions for staff, believing the time lost exercising to be more than made up for in increased productivity and reduced sick leave.
Enforced exercise breaks would also help to enforce the rule of taking regular screen breaks to protect your vision.
Maybe your team could take it further, turning it into a game of ‘Simon Says’ for fun? Or, and this one is quite brilliantly radical, book efficient ‘walking meetings’ with your colleagues.
Try not to get stressed
Perhaps the hardest one to do. There are so many factors which can make you stressed, and it is a huge problem in the workplace.
A key aspect to tackling this is working out when you are stressed. Arinite health and safety consultants have developed a stress matrix, which is a great tool for finding out just where you stand. Breathing exercises, stretching and simply getting away from the stress are the easiest everyday techniques you can use to stop the problem.
Incorporating all these techniques is going to be extremely difficult at work. But even doing one of them might just help you stay a bit healthier and more productive. Seems like you’ve got nothing to lose then… Good luck!
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