Health At Your Desk: Get Those Healthy Habits Started Today!

For those of us who have roles that require us to sit at our desk all day, staying healthy has its challenges. It's no surprise that we need to be proactive about moving and eating well to avoid health issues, such as weight gain, stress, and poor fitness. Long periods of inactivity, coupled with improper ergonomics, can put stress and strain on your whole body and can lower your energy and alertness. Over time, people who sit for a long time without moving are more likely to have joint, bone, and posture problems and increase their risk of obesity and related conditions-heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, among others.

Don't be discouraged as listed here are 18 ways that you can incorporate healthier habits into your daily routine at your desk to live a happier, more productive, healthier life.

1. Take hourly breaks. Get up, move around! Walk to the photocopier and back again if need be. The average American spends around 15 hours sitting (at work and at home) and since a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for many common ailments, it's important to move.
2. Stretch or move in place. Do squats while on hold with an insurance company.
3. Forget the phone or email. Walk to your colleague instead of sending them an email.
4. Walk at lunch. Organize with a buddy and do it together. Get outside and get some fresh air, out of that AC and pollutants.
5. Set alarms on your device or computer. Set it to remind yourself to get up and get moving about!
6. Bring a bagged lunch. By bringing a healthier homemade lunch, you are in control of what you are eating and less inclined to spend money on fast-food lunches. This will help your pocketbook too!
7. Create a healthy stash. Keep a place in your drawers that hold healthier snacks, such as nuts, freeze-dried fruit (even vegetables), dark chocolate (sorry everyone, it has to be 72% or more for those antioxidants to be good for you!), popcorn, protein bars, etc.
8. Just say no. Say "no thanks" to the lunches that always seem to find their way into the lunchroom, courtesy of the drug reps. There's also patient gifts, birthday cakes, donuts, and or cookies that can crush even the best intentions, so just say no and stay on track.
9. Have a reusable water bottle on your desk. Up your intake of water every day and enjoy the benefits of staying hydrated. Perk alert: drinking more will make you walk to the bathroom more! It's a win-win!
10. Drink herbal teas. Too much caffeine or soda is bad for your health and by drinking herbal teas, you can incorporate some wonderful benefits into your life and up your water/fluid intake at the same time!
11. Use an exercise ball to sit on. Improve your core and importantly your posture while you work!
12. Get your colleagues in line with healthy eating and exercise. Hold a Weight Watchers meeting at your work to stay accountable and focused together!
13. Breathe. Stress is everywhere at work and at home. Taking deeper breaths gets oxygen way down into your lungs to help refresh and focus you.
14. Take a mini-break. Instead of working through those 10-minute breaks (or worse-going outside for a cigarette break), set an alarm and close your eyes for 10 minutes, breathing deeply and contemplating life. Put a post-it on your computer screen letting your colleagues know that you're on a mini-break and not to bother you.
15. Look away from the screen. Eyestrain is an issue that affects anyone who looks at a computer screen all day. It has plenty of short term symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and more. Those annoyances are disruptive to your work day and make it hard to concentrate and be productive.
16. Check your ergonomics. Are you leaning your head to one side when talking on the phone, increasing your chances of neck strain? Is your screen and keyboard in the right place to reduce work related injuries and strains? Poor posture can lead to health issues down the line so take care of that now and give your body a chance to stay strong and reduce your chance of injury.
17. Sanitize after using communal keyboard or telephones. Germs are everywhere and we've all been there when one colleague insists on coming into the office despite being horridly ill and shares it with everyone. Keep some hand sanitizer handy and clean your work surfaces regularly.
18. Eat breakfast. This is an oldie but goodie and something that I bet your mother impressed on you every day before school. By starting your day with a good, healthy breakfast, you will stay more focused, snack less, and make better decisions.

I'm sure that these few tips have helped you think of other ways that you can incorporate healthier habits into your daily work routine and we would love to hear them! Please go to the BC Advantage magazine Facebook page and let us know what they are! Use the title: "Health at Your Desk" and should your tip stand out with the most likes or feedback, we will send you a healthy surprise for your desk!

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