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Whether you are an employer in a large corporation, run your own small business, or are an employee at an office job, it’s important to have a healthy work environment. I mean think about it…you spend about 40 hours a week (if not more) at your job, so you want to be as healthy there as possible! For some of us, we spend more time at work than we do at home. So if you are only trying to create healthy changes in your home life, you’re missing out on a huge piece of the puzzle.
I’ve worked in corporate wellness programs but I have also been an employee at a job that involves many hours sitting behind a desk. I’ve seen wonderful healthy habits promoted by companies, and I’ve also see coworkers’ health declining due to unhealthy work environments. So I decided to compile a list of my top 5 ways to have a healthier work environment…
1. Don’t Sit Too Long
As I’m sure you might have heard by now, sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to your health. (Related post – How Your Desk Job is Slowly Killing You: the dangers of sitting at work)
If your job requires sitting for the most part of the day, try to get up and walk at least one time every hour. Get up to go to the bathroom, grab a drink of water, or chat with a coworker in person as opposed to calling them. Or if your job is a bit more flexible, look into purchasing a standing desk! Or if your work won’t allow you to switch out your entire desk, you can even purchase a computer stand that can sit right on top of your desk and raise up your laptop.
2. Take Stretch Breaks
Stretching is so important! When we sit or stand all day our muscles can tighten up, which down the road can lead to imbalances and injury. I recommend you do 30 second stretches for the major muscle groups that typically get strained at work: hamstrings, quads, calves, back, shoulders, and neck. There are even a lot of stretches that you can do right at your desk! My favorite are ankle circles, neck circles, seated toe touches, and shoulder rolls.
Bonus tip: if you’re an employer or someone who typically holds longer meetings at work (60+ minutes) try to schedule a quick 5 minute stretch break! I hosted these at a corporate office I used to work at and they were a big hit! Not only were they good for your body, but they also helped refocus the group to prevent fatigue.
3. Always Have Healthy Snacks on Hand
Just like it’s important to pack a healthy lunch, it’s also important to always have healthy snacks on hand! Think quick, portable snacks like yogurt, string cheese, small bags of nuts/trail mix, pieces of fruit, and pre-cut veggies.
If you’re an employer who has a vending machine in the office, try to stock it with healthy items. If your employees are constantly reaching for a candy bar, you can be sure their work ethic will suffer once they crash from the sugar. Easy vending machine choices are trail mix, pretzel sticks, tortilla chips, KIND bars, popcorn, and mints.
4. Actually Take Your Lunch Break
Please, please, please actually take your lunch break! Not only do you need the time to refuel, but it’s also a chance to clear your head and help de-stress. Instead of eating your lunch at your desk, leave your office and eat somewhere else. If you’re eating with other coworkers, try to keep the conversation topic on something besides work. Your brain needs this opportunity to recharge.
This also holds true during meetings. How many meetings have you been to that decide to work through lunch to save time? It might get you out of there 15 minutes sooner, but I promise you that it will lead to a less productive meeting.
5. Stay Hydrated
So not only will choosing healthy foods and stretching keep you focused and alert, but so will staying properly hydrated. (Check out my blog post for ways to increase your water intake here). Instead of reaching for that 3rd cup of coffee at 2pm, grab a water bottle instead! Also try substituting your soda at lunch with a water to save on calories and avoid the dreaded sugar crash. If you’re an employer, always make sure the break room is stocked with water so it is easily accessible. The same goes for catered lunches, if you supply water and forgo the soda altogether, your employees will have no choice but to drink the water.
Each of the five points above might seem really small, but when they are combined they make a huge difference. If we’re going to be at work for 8+ hours a day, why not fill them with healthy behaviors when possible? Try following these 5 easy tips and you will be feeling better and more energized at work in no time!
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