Business planning

How to Stay Active and Healthy when You Work in an Office Job

Office JobBed-to-desk-to-bed has become an all too familiar routine. Putting in ever-increasing hours at the office in order to meet the intensity of workplace demands, plus a growing reliance on technology and computers, means that more and more of the day is being spent sitting at a desk. While this may seem to be evidence of commitment and an impressive work ethic, studies show that this sedentary lifestyle has rather overwhelming negative effects on both health and stress levels: it may not seem like a huge crime, but the biggest culprit for poor health through work is sitting down. It slows down your body’s metabolism, limiting its efficiency at breaking down fat and regulating blood sugar, which means you put on weight and become more lethargic, losing concentration and motivation. More startling than this, a huge study undertaken on the subject, comparing those who sat down the most with those who sat down the least, has unequivocally linked sitting down with:

  • A 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • A 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • A 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
  • A 49% increase in death from any cause

In fact, inactivity is now listed as the fourth biggest killer of adults by the World Health Organisation.

Of course this poses something a problem for the millions of us who, to all intents and purposes, sit down for a living.

To counteract the poor health and heightened stress of this lifestyle, many offices are implementing new and innovative ways to inspire their employees to be more active and healthy throughout the day. One office has even built a cycle ramp leading down to a basement with bike racks and relaxation facilities, including a basketball court, in the hope of encouraging workers to incorporate activity and relaxation into their working routines, and therefore preventing the health risks associated with office-based work, and increasing motivation and productivity for the company.

If you are not naturally active, and the idea of trying to find time in your already overstretched day to work out fills you with horror, fear not: you’d be surprised at how easy it really is to fit in exercise here and there, no matter how jam-packed your schedule. Here are five ways you could try injecting some much-needed activity into your daily routine:

  1. On the commute itself, even something as simple as getting off the bus or tube one stop earlier introduces that little bit more motion into your day. Then, once at work, move around much as you can. Maybe take the stairs, or stand up from time to time. The benefits of standing up while you work are astounding. Research suggests that just 30 minutes of exercise a day every day can decrease your risk of certain types of cancer.

Some people are removing their chairs altogether, but even standing up for a certain amount of the day has been shown to help physical health and office productivity enormously. Put objects or documents you use regularly out of reach of your desk, so you have to stand up to retrieve or use them. Only take calls standing up. If you can, use a cordless phone or mobile, so you can walk while talking.

  1. Failing that, why not trying swapping your squashy office chair for something else? Many offices are now switching to exercise balls, which strengthen posture, stimulate circulation and prevent you from slouching; or even a yoga aid like a stability cushion or gym accessory which gives your muscles a gentle workout while ensuring you remain alert and more industrious throughout the day.
  1. Maximise the productivity of group work and minimise the sitting around by conducting meetings without chairs. Not only will this inject some vital additional activity and exercise into your day, it will encourage participants to get to the point more quickly, and be more articulate and succinct with what they say, meaning meetings are more efficient and successful.
  1. Use your lunch breaks wisely: don’t eat at your desk, get outside, go for a walk; avoid the dreaded afternoon slump. Fresh air and an elevated heart rate will refresh your body and brain, and keep you motivated well into the afternoon. Remember that food can have a lot to do with your body’s health and wellbeing. Obviously, if you are moving around less you should eat less, but also try to choose foods that are broken down easily by the body, and give your brain maximum energy.
  1. Skip the snacks! Munching on sugary treats may offer some semblance of reward during a long day staring at a computer, but you’ll put on weight, and the constant rollercoaster of sugar highs and lows seriously impacts productivity, not to mention increases fatigue. Sip on water instead: drinking water throughout the day increases concentration, as well as helping to prevent those pesky mid-afternoon chocolate cravings.Of course no one is pretending that water is a real substitute for biscuits, but by pushing for the highest quality office water coolers in common areas and by adding some citrus fruit slices into your water, you can still enjoy the taste whilst keeping your body hydrated and healthy.

Working hard and achieving results is something that should be admired and celebrated, but it is vital not to let the pursuit of success at work compromise your health or wellbeing. Focusing on ways to stay healthy and active while maintaining an intensive office routine is paramount to a balanced and productive lifestyle.

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