Okay, we appreciate the irony here. You’re probably sat at your desk reading this, rushing through a lunch which could be a little healthier, when you could be out for a walk and getting some fresh air. You may be hunched, perhaps slumped, and we’d hazard a guess you’re nursing a caffeinated drink, rather than something healthy.
Indeed, the office and a sedentary life seem to go hand in hand, with an astonishing 81% of UK office workers spending between four and nine hours at their desk each day (that’s a whole 67 sedentary days in total). And the risks associated with this level of inactivity are huge, with reports last year suggesting that sitting down for too long could be causing 70’000 UK deaths per year. Things need to change in the workplace, and with that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL ways for office workers to stay fit and healthy.
RETHINK YOUR COMMUTE
The daily commute, particularly in the capital, just seems to eat up so much time which could otherwise be spent keeping fit and healthy. But if you reframe how you think about that commute, it can actually present a great fitness opportunity.
For commuters who are lucky enough to be within walking, running or cycling distance of the office, for heaven’s sake, abandon the car, bus or train and make the most of it! If you don’t want to take this option every day, even just a return journey a few times a week which raises the heart rate could help boost your fitness levels and keep those threats from a sedentary lifestyle at bay. And if you aren’t close enough for this to be feasible, try getting off a couple of stops earlier than normal and walking the remaining distance to work.
CALISTHENICS & COLLEAGUES
If you’re not blessed with a gym at – or near – your office which is easily accessible during breaks, then fear not; there are still smart ways you can keep active during your working day. Getting ripped on company time? Count us in!
Many exercises make use of calisthenics (using your own body weight and very little equipment to build muscle) and there are a variety of simple routines which will show you how to stay fit at your office desk. For example, find a sturdy, secure chair and do some dips. Or, position yourself on a swivel chair and spin, using only your core to propel you. The result? Well, if you do enough, some toned, defined abs.
What’s more, you can enlist the help and support of colleagues in keeping fit. Suggest runs during lunch breaks and trips to the gym after work as group. This peer-to-peer motivation can really make a difference to your commitment.
KEEP STRESS LEVELS LOW
Because a healthy mind equals a healthy body and vice versa…it’s all inextricably linked, right? It’s vital, then, that you keep on top of that workplace stress. With over half a million workers in the UK last year saying they suffered from stress, depression or anxiety, it’s something of a national epidemic. Having the tools to confront that feeling of being under pressure head on and methodically will help you keep holistically, wholly healthy, we think. As such, we’ve written these tips about ways to beat workplace stress; check it out!
HYDRATE ON THE HEALTHY STUFF
Coffee anyone? It’s a question which soundtracks the working week in every office across the country. It’s no wonder you can spell coffee from the word office. Well, nearly. And while there are often reports concerning the subtle health benefits of the good stuff, it’s not wise to treat it (or the nation’s other favourite drink, tea) as a substitute for water.
Indeed, experts recommend that you should be aiming to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration, boost energy levels and even keep your skin looking radiant and glowing. Avoid quenching your thirst with sweet stuff, even fruit juice, as these don’t actually hydrate you efficiently and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
We’ve probably all heard the term ‘tech neck’ by now; the physical stress caused to the neck and upper shoulders by peering into a device. You’re probably doing that right now, huh? Yep, us too. Having bad posture when sitting at a computer is something nearly all of us are guilty of; it’s a short-term relief provider from the aches and pains accrued throughout a day of sitting and typing. Ultimately though, it can lead to long-lasting damage, causing issues with sleep and exercise which can have a more all encompassing, negative effect on your health.
When sitting at your desk, imagine there’s a string attached to the top of your head that’s pulling you up, like a puppet, and allow your spine to follow its natural curvature accordingly. Avoid the urge to seek momentary comfort in a slouch, and really sit back in your chair, at the bottom, rather than perching on the edge of it. Don’t be afraid to ask your employers for an ergonomic chair or stand up desk to really encourage both better posture and a little additional activity.
And when you do get home from work, try out these 5 IDEAL stretches to help you relax after a day in the office; a kind of warm down after work which is great for your mental as well as physical health. Go on, try it!