Here you go: ten tips for being healthy at a desk job. I’ve been working in a cubicle for the past few months and I’m finding it to be hard on my body. Plus, my commute right now is about an hour each way. You figure, eight hours at work and a two hour round trip commute and I’m sitting at least ten hours a day.
It’s amazing how tiring it is to sit all day. It’s draining.
Besides fatigue, sitting at a desk is hard on the body. My neck and shoulders are sore, my arms need a good stretch, and my hips ache. I try to move around but it’s not enough. I struggle with not getting in enough movement each day.
My Fitbit tells me that my total steps each day have dropped. That adds to my stress. Not that I have to have the actual steps but I really feel better when I’m moving.
What to do? I’m working on this so I can’t say I have the problem solved but here’s some ideas on what to do if you’re sitting at a desk all day.
Ten Tips for Being Healthy at a Desk Job
- Fit in some activity at the beginning or end of your day. With such a long time devoted to working, this isn’t always possible but I find that if I can get to the gym early in the morning or in the evening, I feel better. A short run helps too. A walk around the block is better than nothing. Moving definitely helps with recovering from sitting all day.
- Get up and move at work. This can be as easy as taking the long way around to the restroom. If you have a staircase, try walking up and down the stairs periodically. Right now, I’m in a place without stairs and the restroom and lunchroom are about 200 steps from my desk. I struggle with getting in much movement during the day. I do, however, park as far from the building as I can. Surprisingly, I always thought everyone does this but I see that I’m wrong. Only one or two other people park by me. Everyone else parks as close to the building as possible.
- Take a walk at lunchtime. As long as the weather holds, I love to go outside to walk. Right now, I walk up and down the street where I’m working. It’s funny to see people from other buildings also out walking. If necessary, keep a pair of walking shoes in your car or at your desk.
- When you go outside or move around, try to shift your focus. We spend so much time looking at things up close, that our eyes become fatigued. When I walk outside, I try to focus on things far off in the distance. I don’t really know if this helps my eyes but I definitely notice a difference when I manage to have a longer gaze.
- Pack your lunch and snacks. It’s a lot easier to control what you eat if you bring your own food. You can pack leftovers from your dinner for your lunch or just make a large salad that includes some protein. I try to avoid my sardines at work because I know they have a strong fishy smell.
- Pack extra snacks. Sometimes I’m just hungrier during the day and want a snack. I tend to bring more food than I might need so that if I’m starving on that long drive home, I can eat. I try to avoid walking in the house at the end of the day starving. That leads to nothing good happening.
- Avoid the snacks in the office. Don’t start the vending machine habit. I find it’s easier just to not use it than to start the habit and then have to fight with myself every day over buying a snack. It’s been a while since I’ve worked in an office every day and I’d forgotten how every social activity involves food. People don’t bring in healthy choices, either. It’s things like cupcakes and cookies. Avoid them. I noticed at the last event that several people passed on the cake and nobody questioned it. I think office workers are used to there being people who are dieting or following a different way of eating. Don’t let yourself feel peer-pressured into eating things you don’t want to eat.
- Drink lots of water. It’s easy to forget to drink water because you’re not working up a sweat while working at a desk. I bring my water bottle and try to refill it a couple of times during the day. For one thing, drinking more water and having to refill the bottle means I have to make an extra trip to the restroom and the lunchroom. That gets me moving just a bit more. (see step 2 above.)
- STRETCH! Try stretching your hands, wrists, and elbows. Stretch your legs and hips. I think I’ll have to write another post about desk yoga or desk stretches. Do what feels good.
- Maintain good posture. This means feet on the floor. Don’t cross your legs. Don’t sit on your foot. Try not to slouch. Try to keep your head upright. Make sure your monitor is high enough that you’re not bending your head forward.
- Here’s a bonus tip. Practice smiling at people.Work is stressful. People are under pressure. The more you smile, the better you’ll feel. and the better those around you will feel.
So, there’s my ten tips for being healthy at a desk job. OK, actually eleven.
What tips can you add? I really need all the help I can get so please share your ideas with me at email@example.com. Or leave a voice mail message at the Becoming Elli phone number, 330-970-6662 or just leave a message below.