You’d think a white-collar job is an ideal gig. You get to sit all day in a controlled, comfortable environment and get paid for it at the end of the month. Sadly, you’d be wrong. By making yourself used to this routine, you are quite literally poisoning your body. If you live such a life, then you clearly need to start making healthy changes in the way you spend your time at work.
What am I doing wrong?
Having an office job means that you, like most American office workers, have likely adopted practices that are slowly eating away at your health. A survey by Withings conducted on 10,000 Americans showed that most of them were engaged in unhealthy habits at work, such as repeatedly snacking, skipping meals, and the most common of them all, sitting for long periods – with a whopping 70% admitting to doing so.
Major threats to your health include a sedentary lifestyle, improper eating, not hydrating enough, and not getting ample outdoor exposure.
So how bad is it?
Did you know that sitting is the new smoking? And I don’t mean it like it’s a hip trend or something. Sitting for long periods can be linked to almost every disease you can think of, even cancer. Prolonged sitting also worsens your posture, which takes a toll on your spine.
Unhealthy snacking on top of that would be the icing on the cake. Common snacks like chips, candies, chocolate, or other junk items provide no nutritional benefits but stuff you with useless calories. This leads to obesity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Hydration is an overlooked and underrated health necessity. As with all the aforementioned habits, lack of hydration also leads to obesity and heart-related diseases and moodiness, and low energy.
Another major menace to your health is insufficient outdoor exposure. While it’s true that the air you get in most major cities is a toxic blend of carcinogens, you do need sunlight. Ample sunlight – early morning sunlight to be exact – helps your body produce vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D can lead to bone degradation, diabetes, osteomalacia, heart diseases, and cancer.
How can I be healthy at work?
We understand that it can be a tad challenging to attend a gym before or after work. But you can make certain adjustments to the time you spend at work to stay healthy and fit. You don’t have to incorporate them all, but try to do your best.
Minimize your sitting time
Start with the worst; stop spending your whole workday sitting. Take a break every 30 or 60 minutes. Stand up, move around, stretch, do anything other than sitting for about 10 minutes.
If you want to take it a step further, get a standing desk. A standing desk is an elevated deck for you to use while standing. Your spine and neck will thank you for that.
Standing is not only good for your posture, but it also burns significantly more calories than sitting. It’s the simplest of workouts.
Make reasons for walking
Walking is another tremendously simple workout you can do at any time, and it doesn’t look odd in public. Walking a combined 30-minutes each day can do wonders for your health. If you can’t do it all at once, you can break it down into smaller chunks.
Park your car far from your office building, so you have to walk longer. Your lunch break is one hour long? Reserve half of it to go for a walk around the building. Instead of sending departmental or interdepartmental emails, walk over there and deliver the message in person. Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
Incorporate exercises during work
Exercise is vital to your health, and a desk job shouldn’t be your excuse for not exercising. There are many exercises you can do right at your desk. You can work your back, arms, neck, thighs, and legs straight from the comfort of your office. Spend more time with the fitness freaks in your office, so some of their healthy habits rub off on you.
Stretching is also essential for your joints, muscles, and spine. Have a daily stretching routine to do during your hourly or half-hourly break from sitting.
Cycling is a brilliant way to travel. Cycling to and from work will be a great use of the time you spend in your daily work commute
Eat healthy, homemade foods
Instead of ordering take-out and splurging in unnecessarily greasy or sugary meals every day, have mercy on your gut and nosh on something healthier.
Avoid eating meals full of simple carbs and saturated fats. Make your lunch with foods rich in fibers, proteins, good fats, and complex carbs.
Eliminate the use of sugars as much as you can. This includes food items packed with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, like sauces and dips, sodas, shakes and smoothies, salad dressings, sweetened coffee, and desserts.
Try swapping less-healthy meals with some of their healthier alternatives. You should replace:
- White bread with whole-wheat or multigrain bread.
- Vegetable oil with olive oil.
- Fried foods with grilled or boiled foods.
- Coffee with green tea.
- High-fructose dips with homemade chutneys and sauces.
- Artificially sweetened juices with 100% natural ones.
- White sugar and artificial sweeteners with brown sugar.
You can also get creative and try to make your own healthy meals. It can be a fun way to spend your weekend. Prepare the whole week’s lunch on Sundays and freeze them for later use.
Substitute your junk snacks with healthy alternatives
Snacking on and off every day is something all of us can admit to. The thing about snacking is that most of us aren’t even hungry when we do it, filling us with needless calories.
Ironically, the most popular snacks are also the unhealthiest ones. Snacks like chips, candies, cakes, cookies, sodas, and almost anything you can find in a regular vending machine, are high in oils, sugars, carbs, and saturated fats.
Sometimes our cravings get too much for us, and we need something to satisfy our mini hunger pangs. In such times, having a healthy snack readily available will keep you from resorting to the usual junk.
Some healthy and nutritional snacks are:
- Dry fruits
- Greek yogurt
- Fresh fruits
- Kale chips
- Dark chocolate
- Boiled eggs
- Natural juices
- Roasted corns or chickpeas
These healthy snacks will satisfy your cravings while giving you additional nutritional benefits. Berries, fruits, and salads are rich in vitamins and fibers. Nuts, dark chocolate, kale, dry fruits, chickpeas, and corn are high in fiber, antioxidants, and good cholesterol. Eggs and yogurt are high in proteins and good fats.
These healthy snacks will keep you feeling full, kill off any untimely cravings, and satisfy your sweet tooth, all while giving you much-needed nutrition.
Hydrate and rehydrate
Most people don’t know how important it is to keep your body hydrated at all times. While some may debate that the body can tell you when it needs water, it’s not always the case. An estimated 75% of Americans were living with dehydration, according to a survey.
Working in winters or in an air-conditioned office makes you crave water less. Since you don’t sweat or feel hot in such conditions, you usually don’t get thirsty all that often. However, a constant water supply ensures your body gets rid of its toxins on time.
Keeping a bottle full of water on your desk will remind you to take a sip now and then. Don’t be embarrassed if it makes you go to the bathroom frequently – think of it as an excuse to walk.
Keep track of your health
You should also keep a check on where you stand health-wise. Go get a complete medical check-up at least once a year to get a reading on what is lacking and what is excess inside you. This will ensure you know of any on-coming diseases or deficiencies beforehand.
Suppose you think of health check-ups as a waste of money. In that case, you’d like to know that the general office worker’s sedentary lifestyle has cost the world a collective $67.5 billion. Think of that the next time you think avoiding a check-up saves you money.
You can be healthy and fit, but if you don’t take proper precautions, you can still fall prey to certain viruses. We are obviously alluding to the deadly Covid-19, which has claimed over a million lives worldwide.
Make sure to wear masks and gloves when working on your desk. Keep your distance from colleagues. Wash hands frequently and vigorously. Regularly spray your desk with disinfectant, even if you are the only one using it.
Keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you. Make sure to use it frequently, especially after touching publicly used items like doorknobs, handles, railings, etc. Avoiding elevators and taking stairs will not only keep you active, but it will also save you from being near others.