You spend about half of your waking hours at your job, which means making your workplace—whether that’s a traditional office, shared space or home office—work for your wellness can aid immensely in your health journey.
Stand up for yourself
What’s one of the biggest modern-day obstacles to better health? Sitting. The average American adult sits for nearly eight hours each day, which exacerbates a chain of problems from head to toe. For example, when you slump in a chair, your abdominal muscles go unused and become mushy. That—combined with tight back muscles—makes for a posture-wrecking alliance that exaggerates the spine’s natural arch and causes disk damage. Too much sitting also leads to poor circulation, softer bones, inflexibility, sore shoulders and neck, and even heart disease and colon cancer. If your workplace allows it, switch to an adjustable stand-up desk that enables you to sit less and move more during the day.
If you need help convincing your employer that providing the option for stand-up desks is in her best interest, remind her that one in four adults sought treatment for back pain in the last 12 months because of sitting too much, and that ample research shows that standing at work increases productivity and alertness. Visit standdesk.co for more stats and resources to help build your case.
Don't dine “al desko”
According to Brian Wansink, professor and director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, and author of Slim By Design (HarperCollins, 2013), office workers typically have 476 calories’ worth of food stashed in their desk and within arm’s reach. His studies also show that people who have candy in or on their desk weigh an average of 15.4 pounds more than those who don’t. Store meals and snacks in your company’s communal dining space, and clear your desk and office of stockpiled foods and drinks as a step toward preventing senseless snacking and unwanted weight gain.
Health experts also agree that you should step away from your desk for lunch. True, it can be tempting to dine at your desk in order to power through emails or other pressing projects—62 percent of professionals do. But, in addition to getting extra crumbs in your keyboard, you’ll likely take in more calories when munching in front of a screen. Employees who leave their desks for lunch and head outside or to a break room also report higher workplace satisfaction and better work relationships—and research from MIT found that employees who socialize are actually more productive than those who don’t.