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How You Can Stay Healthy Even Though You Sit At A Desk All Day

How You Can Stay Healthy Even Though You Sit At A Desk All Day

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.com

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8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

3. You could suffer from excess weight

When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

8. You could end up eating more processed food

Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

 

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