Nearly 80% of adult Americans have a chronic disease. While a healthy lifestyle will greatly reduce your risk of chronic diseases, most adults are not meeting the daily physical activity recommendations. It’s no surprise that office jobs are a huge culprit for the rise in chronic diseases.
A desk job is no excuse for a sedentary lifestyle, though. Students, for example, spend a great deal of time sitting in lectures and endless nights in the library. I used to be a student and now I have a 8am - 4:30pm desk job and I can honestly say I am more active now than I was when I was a student. I am healthier and more fit now than I have ever been. How can that be when I work at a desk for 8 hours every single day? Here are my guidelines that continue to help me remain fit.
Pack your own meals. You know what they say, you are what you eat. You can’t eat fast food and expect your body to feel good. Packing your own lunch is absolutely vital to a healthy lifestyle. Why not help yourself feel good by fueling your body with nutrient dense food? There’s nothing like a healthy lunch to fuel your brain for all the work you have to do.
Use a standing desk. You will burn more calories standing versus sitting. You will avoid postural distortions that go along with sitting for extended periods of time. You will keep your muscles active and your blood flowing. Make it a priority to stand for at least 25% of your work day and increase your time standing progressively.
Keep your posture in check. You’re likely sitting while reading this. How is your back? Is it straight or are you leaning forward? Where are your shoulders? Are they retracted and in line with your body or are they rounded forward? What about your head? Is it straight on top of your spine or is it protruding forward? Continuous bad posture from sitting will lead to dangerous muscle imbalances.
Stay active at work.
Take walk breaks. Use your lunch break to go for a walk.
Keep comfortable shoes at your desk. This way you can spend more time standing and you’re able to go for powerwalks.
Set your fitbit to remind you to walk 250 steps every hour. If you have a fitness tracking device, it likely has a feature that reminds you to get up and move every hour. This is a lifesaver! Turn the notification on, and get those steps, even if you have to walk to the bathroom and back three times.
Take the stairs. Always choose the stairs over the elevator.
Walk or bike to work. Even if it’s just once a week, it’s still something.
Avoid treats. Let’s be honest, the hardest part about being healthy (for me at least) is food, especially if it’s free. And why does it seem like there’s a potluck at work every damn week? Of course it’s fine to let yourself indulge at times in moderation. I try to steer clear of potluck foods by really asking myself if I’m truly hungry or if I just want to eat. If you’re truly hungry, let yourself enjoy some in small portions or it helps to have some healthy snacks stored at your desk.
Use your workplace wellness program. A lot of employers have workplace wellness programs where they offer educational content and advisors on how to live healthier. Take your employer up on this! Maybe you’ll find a coworker who wants to find a more sustainable healthy lifestyle and you can work together to keep each other motivated.
Join a gym next to your workplace. The gym will be far more convenient if it’s right next to your workplace. If you choose the gym next to your home, you’re way more likely to skip. You’ll go home and tell yourself you’ll head to the gym in an hour, and then before you know it, it’s 10pm and you’re crawling into bed.
Drink plenty of water. If you read Healthy Hydrated You, then you know all the adverse effects of dehydration. You need water to keep you functioning optimally both mentally and physically. Water can help you with hunger cues; are you hungry or are you just thirsty? Also, the more water you drink, the more active you will have to be due to having to use the bathroom and refill your water bottle. Click here to buy my favorite bottle.
Get your workout in first thing in the morning. Do you have the best intentions to hit the gym after work, but never fail to talk yourself out of it by the end of the day? Get it out of the way in the morning. That way, you won’t have the thought of going to the gym looming over you the whole day.
If anything, you are lucky to have a sedentary job because you won’t be physically exhausted at the end of the day. That means you are more likely to make it to the gym. Think of people like pharmacists or construction workers you have to stand all day or do manual labor for their jobs; they feel physically worn out by the end of the day. At least you have the choice between standing or sitting. At least you don’t have to spend your day doing repetitive movements that after time will result in muscle imbalances and injury. Of course if you aren’t practicing good posture or do not get up and move frequently, you also will end up with muscle imbalances. But you have a choice, unlike manual labor jobs, so consider yourself lucky!
Exercise is proven to help stress, anxiety, and depression. So please do not use the excuse that you’re too stressed out to exercise, because exercise will HELP!