Most everyone could benefit from a bit of a health kick, and that especially applies when your job requires you to sit at a computer for most of the day (web designers and developers, we’re looking in your direction).
So we’ve brought you 15 ways you can stay healthy and feel better right in the office. A little bit of effort every day will improve your mood, your fitness, and make you feel much less guilty about taking that second (or third) piece of chocolate cake.
If that’s not worth a couple stretches, well then we don’t know what is!
1. Take a break
Let’s start small. Taking a break every hour – even five minutes – will give your body the rest it so desperately needs.
Your eyes, for example, are essentially stationary when you’re working on a computer.
A 5-10 minute break will get them moving again, reducing dryness and keeping those mini-muscles from straining too much.
Do you find yourself losing track of how much time has passed since your last break? Try the Pomodoro technique to keep yourself in check.
2. Use an exercise ball
Even if you think they look silly, an exercise ball instead of a desk chair is hugely beneficial to your health. On an exercise ball, your body has to constantly adjust to keep you balanced, so your muscles are never completely still.
This in turn builds up your core, strengthens your back, and improves your posture. That’s a lot of wins for something that regularly goes for about $30.
3. Upgrade to a standing desk
Of course, sitting on a big ol’ ball all day isn't everyone’s cup of tea. If it’s not quite for you, another option is to invest in a standing desk.
The benefits of standing all day versus sitting are fairly well documented, and pretty much what you’d expect:
Of course, the downside is that you have to stand all day long. But one standing desk advocate pointed out that he found that his standing desk actually improved communication, since he could see everyone and better have a quick chat.
- Reduced risk of obesity, heart attacks, and diabetes
- Improved blood flow and reduced lethargy
- Better posture
- Enhanced core strength
So there are perhaps even productivity benefits to a standing desk as well as health ones!
4. Change your commute
This is only sort of workplace related, but – if you can – change your commute. There are various benefits to ‘green’ commuting (walking, running, or biking to work), especially when compared to driving to work.
It’s less stressful and improves your cardio, keeping you healthier, for longer.
5. Bring your lunch
Even healthy options at most restaurants and cafes aren’t as healthy as what you can easily bring from home. Plus, you can make much better food then you can buy – just make up a big batch of whatever you’re cooking for dinner and bring some in for lunch!
6. In-office yoga
Yoga is a fantastic way to stay healthy at the office. Whether you go to a full blown yoga class during your lunch break, or you just do a few stretches every couple hours, find a system that works for you.
7. Hourly stretches
Like hourly breaks for your eyes, it’s important to stretch every hour as well. When we sit still for big chunks of time, our muscles start to seize up and shrink a little (especially our neck muscles). Stretching will unwind them and relax them, and keep you comfortable and injury-free in the long run.
⇨ Check out this collection of desk stretches from the Mayo Clinic
8. Always take the stairs
OK, if you work on the 80th floor then you get a pass. But working on the first with a meeting on the third? Take the stairs!
9. Use a pedometer
Use some classic gamification techniques! Aim to get 10,000 steps, and get a friend in on it.
Most smartphones have the step-tracking technology built in, so all it takes is downloading an app to start counting. You’ll be surprised how intensely competitive you’ll become!
10. Set your monitor height ergonomically
The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes, so most of the time you're looking down about 10 degrees. Any more and you'll move your head to see stuff (which will cause neck pain), and any higher and your eyes will dry out.
11. Wash your hands
This simple measure can actually improve your health significantly. Offices, unfortunately, are breeding grounds for bacteria. Lots of people, extended hours, not a lot of fresh air, and a (hopefully) comfortably warm temperature? It’s no wonder office workers get sick so often!
You can reduce your own risk just by washing your hands. Another options is to keep some hand sanitizer at your desk to use throughout the day.
12. Keep your tech clean
Most people will clean a desk pretty regularly. However, our tech – phones, cell phones, keyboards – tend to be missed. Make a point of wiping down all your surfaces once a week, and every now and then getting some compressed air and cleaning out your keyboard. You’ll be amazed (and possibly disgusted) with how much stuff collects between the gaps.
13. Make friends
Offices can be lonely places. Make a point of getting to know the people around you outside of a work context. Talk about weekend plans, your friends or family, current events – whatever suits you!
And yes, we know that the office can be hard to break the ice. But odds are, everyone is just waiting for someone to take the plunge. Why can’t that be you? You’ll feel more connected, less stressed, and perhaps even more productive working with people you know rather than email addresses on a screen.
14. Drink water
But not too much. Did you know that it only takes 6L to kill an adult!? As long as you don’t overdo it, w
ater will make you feel more energized, more positive, and better hydrated so you can fight off nasty infections easier.
15. Take a vacation
Of course, the number one way to be healthy at work is to not be at work at all! A quick break can rejuvenate you emotionally, physically, and creatively, making you not only healthier but actually better at your job. So go on. You’ve earned that vacation.