Do you often feel like your office’s culture is working against your health and fitness goals? There are days when you’re too busy to grab lunch, and it feels like there’s cake for someone’s birthday numerous times a week. In these circumstances, being mindful can be difficult. However, there are a few things you can do to stay on track to reaching your goals and help lead the charge for a healthier, happier workplace at the same time.
Make healthy swaps.
Take the lead and ask your employer if you can swap the office cookies for a weekly fruit delivery that everyone can enjoy. Alternatively, start stocking the vending machine with healthier snacks, such as small bags of trail mix, or air-popped popcorn. Instead of making muffins for the team meeting, you could try making hummus with veggie sticks, which is perfect for sharing. If you work in a large team, consider combining the birthday celebrations into a once-a-month affair.
Keep snacks out of sight and out of mind.
To avoid mindless eating, a good rule of thumb is no food at your desk. We eat faster and eat more when our brains are focused on something else, like work. Also, using opaque containers for less healthy foods like cookies and clear bowls for healthy options, such as fruit, reduces our tendency to be tempted to snack on these foods.
Take a packed lunch for scheduled breaks.
Set aside a few hours on the weekend to plan and prepare your snacks and lunch options for the week ahead. This will help you avoid getting caught out and needing to buy something on the go. Skipping meals can impact our weight as well, so plan ahead and tale all of your meal breaks each day away from the computer.
Aim to get outside for at least 10 to 20 mins daily. Take your lunch break at a nearby park to stretch your legs and get moving. See if you can find an office buddy who wants to come with you, to keep your motivation high every day of the week. Walking and talking with someone else will take your mind off the fact that you’re exercising at all.
Enjoy your treats.
Allow yourself a few, well-portioned treats from time to time so you don’t feel deprived. Ask for a smaller slice of cake or bring some strawberries dipped in dark chocolate to the office party so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.
Start and end the day on strong notes.
Start the day with a good breakfast high in fiber and protein to help keep your energy levels stable all day. Get into a good routine to ensure you achieve at least 6.5 hours of sleep nightly, and implement little strategies to manage stress. Chronic stress and too little sleep have a big impact on our hormones and can slow down your weight loss. Drinking enough water is helpful for staying alert and helps regulate your appetite. Try keeping a bottle at your desk and finish one before and one after lunch.
Keep moving when you have a desk job.
Working in the office can be mentally draining, and it’s easy to spend hours glued to the chair without moving. Not only can this impact productivity at work, but also has a negative impact on our health. It is important to remain as active as possible through regular movement to help maintain cardiovascular health, as well as your ability to focus throughout the day, and spending just five to 10 minutes every hours can help!
There are literally hundreds of exercises we could do just in the office and they don’t require you having to change into any workout clothes and buying an abundance of gym equipment. The key is to just break up that sitting time with small bouts of movement.
So, what can you do?
Get those legs moving.
Whenever you arrive at work or go out on your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the elevator. This will not only increase your step count, but it will also raise your heart rate. Instead of calling or emailing your colleague down the hall, walk over to them. Discuss your ideas face-to-face! Maybe you have got a stack of paper work to do. Instead of sitting through the whole lot, stop what you’re doing, take a moment and jog on the spot for a minute, then continue where you left off. It is small things like these that can add up to make a big difference.
Do regular stretching.
Regular stretching can help prevent muscles from tightening up and prevent the common neck and back pain from desk work. Take five to 10 minutes to stretch your legs, arms, and neck. Hold the stretch for a good fifteen to thirty seconds. This can help eliminate various aches and pains from prolonged sitting and encourage better posture.
Try body weight exercises.
Body weight exercises will help maintain strength and muscular endurance that can be lost through sedentary lifestyles. It also gets the blood pumping, helping you feel more energized. Simple exercises such as squats and lunges for your legs. Push ups on the wall or on your desk for upper body and core. Setting small challenges for yourself or your co-workers can be a good way to keep things interesting and encourage physical activity around the workplace. Challenge each other (or yourself to a wall sit challenge. Whoever holds the longest time wins (Tip: The more you practice this, the longer you can hold it)! Otherwise, get creative, grab a heavy folder or pack of printing paper and do some bicep curls or lift it out to your side a few times to work your shoulders. Aim to get one to three sets of eight to 122 reps for each exercise, picking a different exercise every hour.
Remember, physical activity at work doesn’t have to be overly strenuous. Just by breaking up those sitting intervals five to 10 minutes every hour, whether it be walking, squatting or stretching, it can make a big difference to productivity and health. Doing this in conjunction with your planned, weekly exercise sessions will optimize cardiovascular, mental and musculoskeletal health. Consider seeking the help of an accredited exercise physiologist for a tailored advice.
This post originally appeared on Balance by Deborah Hutton. It can also be found on our sister site, Now to Love.