A big hello from me, Dr Sarah Bailey, aka The Gym Medic!
Today we’re talking about office health. And no, that’s not how healthy the newest paint job looks on the office walls, but how you take care of yourselves between the hours of 9 and 5pm.
The average person spends 91,120 hours at work in a lifetime, and for some, these can be the unhealthiest hours of their lives. From office convenience food to sedentary jobs, I’m sure we can all say at some point in our lives we’ve found a work environment unhealthy, am I right?
At times, it can feel like even the most health conscious individual could be led to unhealthy ways in the office environment, but how can we do the jobs we love and keep fit and well? I thought I’d share a few tips about what you can do at work to make the whole environment a more wholesome place to be for all! Here goes…
1. Break the office culture
It can be so easy to start a new job and change your healthy habits because everyone else doesn’t think in that way, or you feel too busy.
If you want to take your lunchtime walk, but others turn their nose up at it, just do it! You’re investing in your own health and no doubt they’ll be joining too after a few weeks.
While we’re on the subject of lunch breaks, it’s important to take these, while it’s good to avoid staying late too often to ensure you maintain a good work/life balance.
2. Meal prep
Making food from scratch is a brilliant way to stay healthy at work. It means you’ll be less likely to reach for that meatball sub when you’re on the lunchtime scramble for food.
When I’m working in hospitals, I love taking in my prepped lunches, because it saves money, fills me up, and often lots of people ask me about them. By making informed food choices yourself, you might start the conversation with other colleagues and make a difference to their wellbeing as well!
3. Be careful with desk eating
This is a bad habit to get into. However, in reality many of us end up doing it. Eating at your desk can mean you’re less mindful of the fuel you’re consuming, and if you’re multitasking you may even forget to chew your food properly. This can leave you bloated and hungry.
By chewing and enjoying your food, you’ll give your body time to produce the hormones which indicate you’re full. This can help you stay full and may reduce the chance of overeating.
Finally, eating away from your desk is more sociable, so get on out there. If you can sit outside, even better!
4. Water, water, water
The human body is made of up to 60% water. Isn’t that mad? To keep this topped up, the recommended intake of water per day is 1.5-2 litres. How much you actually need will depend on your age, weight, sex and physical activity volume.
Why not invest in a reusable bottle and keep it filled on your desk? Make it simple and drink water over other options when you’re thirsty.
5. The lunchtime walk
Imagine a world where we could have walking meetings, or outdoor meetings. We may need to change country, but I’d be down for that!
But seriously, walking is a brilliant form of cardiovascular exercise. Studies have found those with sedentary jobs are at a higher risk of a significant cardiac (heart) event, so by moving during the day we can reduce this risk ourselves.
Even just 10 minutes of brisk walking is better than nothing, so get moving! Furthermore, being in the sunlight allows your body to absorb vitamin D, which is vital for many processes in the human body.
6. Exercise snacking
This is a new kid on the block, and effectively it involves doing a burst of high intensity interval training (HIIT) a few times a day.
This can be quickly done in the morning, lunchtime and evening and can squeeze exercise into the busiest schedule. Each ‘snack’ might not last longer than 10 minutes and you don’t even need any gym equipment, so it can be done in the comfort of your own home or office.
Keeping active day to day is a major factor in preventing and controlling lifestyle related diseases, so start now and you’ll likely experience the long term benefits.
7. Do something different
When I worked in an office, one of my colleagues would bring in home-grown fruit and vegetables every week to be shared out in the office. It meant each week we’d have something different to take home and cook with.
He was inspiring others to cook and try new foods, and we’d all share our recipes the following week! Could you do something similar?
Ultimately, if staff feel well in themselves there may be less sick leave, less conflict and overall a better vibe in the office. By implementing simple things like a 10-minute brisk walk into your day, you’ll be doing your body and mind a world of good.
Furthermore, if you can get a group of you involved, even better, as this may help build a community atmosphere in your work.
8. Take the stairs
Does your office have a lift? If it does, it can be really tempting to use it instead of climbing a couple of flights of stairs.
However, when it comes to your fitness, we know that every little helps. If you have the option (and, let’s face it, you always do!), leave the lift alone and use the stairs instead.
I hope these ideas help you get started and don’t forget to comment below what you’ve done in your office to create a more wholesome environment!
Keep positive and try and make your 91,120 hours of work the best they possibly can be!