21 Ways To Stay Healthy When You Sit At A Desk All Day
For those of us who sit down at a desk most of the day, health and well-being aren't always easy to work into our lifestyles. Still, the facts show that we must be proactive about eating well and moving enough during the day in order to avoid weight gain, stress and flagging fitness.
Sitting down all day long is one of the worst things for your health, as it increases the likelihood of heart disease and weight gain — among other ills. We sit down at the office, then we sit in the car, and once home, we sit to eat and watch TV!
What to do? Small changes, practiced consistently over a long period of time, are the best way to increase health and well-being. Here are 21 easy-to-adopt ideas to get inspired. Remember, you don’t have to do them all!!
1. Take hourly breaks.
Every hour, get up from your desk and go for a quick walk anywhere (furthest restroom, copy machine, water cooler, colleague’s desk). Just move.
2. Stretch or move in place.
Don’t have anywhere to go? Touch your toes, walk or march in place for a few minutes, do a good set of jumping jacks (who cares what your neighbor thinks!).
3. Take a meeting on the move.
Have a meeting or brainstorm scheduled? Do it while you walk — not only good for fitness, but helps manage stress and fires up creativity!
4. Treat elevators, escalators and moving walkways as the enemy.
Unless you work at the top of a 40-story building, consider elevators your enemy. Ditto for escalators and walkways.
5. Forget phone and email.
Not always practical, but try visiting your colleagues in person every once in a while.
6. Walk at lunch.
Have an hour for lunch? Use half to eat, half to walk. Round up a few colleagues and make it a weekly date.
7. Count it out.
Get a pedometer and try to clock 10,000 steps per day.
8. Ditch the car.
When possible, walk, bike, run to work. If you live too far away, try parking far away from your destination and walking part of the way. Or get off the train/metro/bus several stops early.
9. Do something active before you get home.
Stop at the gym/pool/track on the way home from work.
10. Wake up earlier.
The easiest way to work more fitness into the day is with a DVD (yoga, cardio, strength training). Get moving before the rest of the world wakes up!
11. Schedule your weekly fitness on Sunday night.
Studies show that scheduling what you eat and when and how you exercise is the best way to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Write it down!
12. Set alarms on your computer or mobile device.
Every hour at work, have a little ringer go off to remind you to take a stretch or walk to the nearest copy machine.
13. Organize your office.
Use your time filing to stand up and move around your office. Don’t roll your chair around your office to get to your filing cabinets.
14. Walk when you talk.
Since most people talk on their mobile phones, make it a practice to get up from your seat and go for a walk when you're on the phone.
15. Get friendly with your Tupperware.
If you cook a healthy meal at home, save part of it, and take it to work the next day for lunch. Add a few chopped veggies and you have a great homemade meal!
16. Go nuts!
Instead of buying candy bars or “health” bars (which are loaded with sugar) from the vending machine, keep handy a stash of dry fruit or nuts.
17. Load up on herbal teas.
Forget the coffee breaks with your friends and colleagues. Grab your favorite mug and start sampling herbal teas: try red fruits, verbena, mint for example.
18. Hit the water.
Get yourself a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk. Make yourself drink at least one full bottle before lunch, and one full one before you go home at the end of the day. Drinking water will keep you fuller and less tempted to snack on empty calories.
19. Just say no!
Say, “No thanks,” to all the treats that get passed around the office: cakes, doughnuts, bagels, cookies. If you’re truly hungry, reach for the dried fruit and nuts.
20. Schedule your meals.
When scheduling your fitness on Sunday night (see above!), work out your meal plans in and out of the office, and include snacks.
21. Skip restaurants whenever possible.
Restaurant food is loaded with extra sugar and salt, and so is unlikely to be as healthy as something you can make at home. Better to have a simple lunch from home or leftovers from the night before.
If you do eat out, choose fresh, healthy salads or other foods when possible. If you eat well at lunch, you won’t want to graze on junk food in the afternoon.
Have more ideas to add to this list? Please let us know!
Rebeca Plantier is a journalist and author of French School Lunch, a two-year research project on France’s public school lunch program promoting health and wellbeing in children. She writes about about healthy living, travel, parenting and the French lifestyle—and her work has appeared on various sites, such as Huffington Post, Business Insider, Salon, EatLocalGrown, travel site Matador Network and many others. Find her at rebecaplantier.com.