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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

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

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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