September 17, 2014 | Jennifer Goodwyn
No matter how active your lifestyle may be, a desk job requires you to be seated for the majority of your time spent in the office. If deadlines, memos, conference calls, and other office activities monopolize your day and leave you with little time to hit the gym or go for a run, you can still keep your body healthy and well-tuned with these tips. Remember: these are just a few tips; the opportunities are endless - all it takes is some creativity and motivation!
Move, Move, Move
An obvious way to stay active in the office is to avoid staying sedentary. By parking farther from your building, taking stairs instead of the elevator, walking to a co-workers desk to ask a question instead of writing an e-mail, and taking brisk walks throughout the day, you'll be getting a burst of exercise without cutting back on productivity. The University of Michigan suggests walking or biking to work. Additionally, if you take public transit to work consider getting off a stop early and walking the rest of the way to work. Not only will you get some exercise in, but you'll feel energized and ready to take on the day.
Ditch Unhealthy Snacks
Even if you're not active at the office, your body still requires proper nutrition and hydration. Avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks in the vending machine by leaving coins in your car and stocking your desk with healthy snacks. If you need a shot of energy, avoid sugary drinks and snacks and go au naturel – fruits and veggies are a great, natural source of energy. Water is just as important – not only is hydration is good for the body and mind, but staying hydrated will encourage you to use the restroom more often; take the long way, get some walking in, and you can kill two birds with one stone.
Sit on a Balance Ball
Also referred to as exercise or stability balls, switching out your office chair for a balance ball is a great way to constantly engage the core abdominal muscles throughout the work day. Sitting on a balance ball makes your ab muscles stronger which can protect the lower back and improve posture. If you're new to using a stability ball, you should start out by using the ball in small increments. As your muscles build strength and endurance and your body becomes more familiar with the seated position, it'll become easier and you'll be able to use the ball for longer periods of time.
While it's not always practical to take a meeting on-the-go, internal meetings and collaborations with co-workers are great candidates for walking meetings. Whether you take laps around the office or head outside for a brisk walk, the extra activity can boost energy and mental alertness. And, when taken outdoors, you'll get a healthy dose of Vitamin D – a crucial vitamin found naturally in the sun. As the importance of physical activity among office workers continues to be stressed, the popularity of walking meetings will continue to grow. In fact, some Kaiser Permanente offices have indoor tracks for employees to use during their own walking meetings!
Get Enough Rest
If you want to be healthy and ready for the next working day, don't forget about your mental health. Whether you work in a corporate office or virtual office, keeping a clear and crisp mind is crucial. While the recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7 to 8 hours, the amount varies from person to person. Additionally, it's the quality – not the hours – that really matters. Proper sleep boosts your immunity, gives your body time to regenerate, and ensures you'll be alert and maintain optimum mental health. If you feel too stressed or mentally frazzled, cash in a sick day and relax.