Staying healthy can be difficult in the best of circumstances. Those who sit at a desk for 8, 10, 12+ hours a day have an even more challenging task. A truly healthy life combines many things, from eating right to getting enough exercise, to keeping a sound mind. Ignoring any aspect of good health can erode your health.

Knowing the challenges that a desk job can present, here are 15 ways to stay healthy even though you sit at a desk all day.

1. Take Hourly Breaks.

Hours of working at your desk can take a toll on you body. Taking breaks helps you improve focus, according to this 2008 study, so they can improve performance. But long stretches of work can be hard on your body. According to Scientific American, ”Maintaining unbroken focus or navigating demanding intellectual territory for several hours really does burn enough energy to leave one feeling drained.”

Take short breaks to ensure you maintain focus and help from feeling mentally and physically drained after work. You’ll get more done and have more energy to stay active when you’re not behind the desk.

2. Stretch or Move in Place.

Stretching at your desk can eliminate stress and offers many health benefits, according to the Mayo clinic. If you’re unsure how, the ultimate “Deskercise” routine is a great place to start.

3. Skip elevators & take the stairs.

Are you walking 10,000 steps a day? According to this study, 10,000 steps is a good amount that healthy adults should be taking. That’s going to be difficult if you’re at your desk all day. So skip the elevators and take the stairs. Park in the spot furthers from your office. Take the “scenic” route when you head to your desk. And find as many extra steps as you can throughout the day.

4. Schedule weekly fitness sessions.

You can maintain a healthy workout schedule with just 30 minute workout sessions according to WebMD. The benefits go well beyond weight loss. Reduced risk of heart disease, better cholesterol and improve heart function are just a few of the benefits of cardio exercise. And you’ll feel better to boot!

5. Pace. Walk when you’re talking.

Moving around when in the office can be difficult, so it’s important to take the opportunity when it presents itself. Conference calls and phone calls can be a vital aspect of many companies in this age of technology. Take the opportunity to get up from the desk and walk around. Move. Stretch. Unless you need to be sitting and taking notes, this is a perfect time to get 20-30 minutes of movement each and every day.

6. Schedule your meals.

You schedule at work can be hectic and your calendar can get pretty full. Put your lunch time on the calendar and block it off. Too many times the schedule can dictate very unhealthy eating habits. Unless you make it a priority to find time to eat and schedule a time, it can be difficult. Schedule those meals and make sure you maintain a healthy diet.

7. Work standing up.

Sitting for long periods is bad for you. Really bad, according to new research. The American Medical Association has even asked employers to let their employees stand up at work in their recommendations. It’s a growing trend and one that you should consider if given the option.

8. Drink plenty of water.

Lose weight, stay young, and get smarter. Those are just three of the 12 unexpected facts about drinking water. Plus, it’ll give you a great excuse to walk over to the water cooler a couple times each day.

9. Eat smaller meals more often.

Hunger is your worst enemy when trying to stay healthy. It causes you to lose focus and can be a key contributor to overeating and gorging on bad food. When you’re at the office, junk food is often readily available and can help to a loss of energy and overall declining healthy.

Eating more often can be the key! Rather than the traditional three meals a day, research is proving that 5-6 smaller, healthier meals can help you maintain your health and feel great. And it makes sense. When you’re planning for these meals, you can make better decisions and insure you have the right kind of food. And by eating before you have the starving feeling, you can maintain portion control and eat healthier.

10. Utilize your lunch break.

It’s easy to just skip lunch and eat at your desk. While on occasion, this can help you be more productive, making a habit of eating at your desk can lead to many problems. Take advantage of your lunch break to take a mental break. Go outside or take a stroll around the building. For most, lunch time is the only time of the day you have for yourself. Take advantage of it!

11. Swap your comfy chair for a treadmill.

Office chairs can be comfy, sure, but they can also lead to bad posture and can be very hard on your back and spine. The new rage is swapping your comfy chair for a treadmill at work. This Forbes article explains how a new study finds treadmill desks help improve productivity and improve your overall health. It’s not for everyone, but it’s an out of the box approach to staying healthy at work.

12. Start a weight loss club.

Losing weight and staying healthy is easier when everyone else is doing it. Too often, you get roped into eating things that are bad for you and going to places that are unhealthy because no one in your office is working on being healthy. Start a weight loss or work out club. When everyone is eating healthy and working out at lunch, you’ll find it much easier to keep yourself on a healthy path.

13. Bring your own lunch.

Don’t depend on restaurants for your health! Most don’t show the calories and many use ingredients that you’ll never know. Bring your own lunch and ensure that you know what you’re putting in your body. Plus, you’ll save money! Use that extra cash to join the gym or take a class.

14. Walk, run, or bike to work.

While this won’t work for everyone, your daily commute can be an ideal time to improve your fitness. If you live close to work, walk! If you’re a bit further, try biking. Or if you commute via mass transportation, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way.

15. Join work activities.

Many offices go bowling, golfing, or have a company softball team. Give these teams a try. Not only will it help you get to know your co-workers better (potentially limiting stress in the workplace), you can get that exercise you need.

Featured photo credit: misterbisson via flickr.com

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