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You can stay healthy at work – here’s how

All too often we hear that our sedentary working lifestyles will – quite literally – be the death of us. But that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s easier than you think to have an office job and a healthy lifestyle as the following tips show.

Plan in exercise

Walk for at least 15 minutes of your everyday commute. Get on and off your bus or train one stop early, or park your car a little further away. The NHS recommends 150 minutes of weekly exercise, and walking fast counts. If that’s not possible take a midday break with some exercise and fresh air – it will make you far more productive in the afternoon than staying put and slogging through. Spend half an hour going for a brisk walk or a run and the other half hour eating your lunch.

Move more

The truth is humans were designed to move about, not sit down. Take regular breaks from long periods of sitting down by talking face-to-face with colleagues on other floors, rather than sending an email, and use a smaller bottle for water so you need to make more trips to the kitchen. There are useful apps such as WorkBreak or MacBreakZ that not only remind you to take a break, they also recommend exercises such as leg lifts and wrist stretches that you can do at your desk.

Sit up straight

When you are sitting, make sure you’re doing it well so that you don’t develop lower back problems – 8.8 million working days were taken off ill due to musculoskeletal disorders last year in the UK. Make sure your chair is adjustable and your feet are flat on the floor. Take breaks (see above), and if you really want to work on posture, swap your chair for a yoga ball and increase your core stability while you work.

Leave the building

Immersing yourself in the natural world has a multitude of health benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes to lowering stress levels. So every day make sure you try to leave the building – even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Better still, find a park, listen to the birdsong and watch leaves rustle in the wind.

Drink water

You know that lull you hit at 3pm every day? You’re not alone: 58 per cent of people feel tired at work. One reason could be dehydration. Water is an essential part of our diet and even a small dip in our hydration levels can lead to fatigue and impaired thinking. Keep a refillable container on your desk – but remember, keep it small so you have to get up and refill it.

Avoid germs

Colleagues with coughs and colds are impossible to avoid – but washing your hands often will give you a better chance of escaping their bugs. Only 28 per cent of us regularly clean our work stations so do take the time to wipe down your desk and keyboards as they can be a hotbed of food crumbs and bacteria too.

Take control of lunch

Don’t feel you have to go to the canteen or the sandwich shop every day. Bring in your own lunch and make it healthy. Cook extra pasta or couscous at dinner the night before and throw in some beans or vegetables for a simple salad.

Sources

NHS – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

Sedentary behavior – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216370/dh_128210.pdf

Stress and nature – http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/