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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

More by this author

Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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