6 Simple Steps to Be Healthier at Work

June 27, 2016

If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t devote much time to your health during your workday. After all, how much control do you really have over a healthy lifestyle at work? You’re sitting in a chair for most of those eight hours. You’re not going to get much cardio that way. Maybe you tell yourself you’ll go to the gym after work or eat a healthy dinner later.

The truth is that most people spend a majority of their waking hours at their jobs. If you’re not concentrating on living a healthy lifestyle while you’re at work, you’re not living a healthy lifestyle at all.

Common Work Behaviors That Lead to Poor Health

Whether you work in a store, a lab, or a standard office environment, you’ve likely developed some unhealthy work habits. Sitting in one place for a large portion of the day can be detrimental to your health — one study actually found that too much sitting could be linked to death at an early age. Not all the repercussions of extensive sitting will kill you, but they will reduce your quality of life. Some of the most common maladies associated with a sedentary lifestyle include weight gain, back problems, and vitamin deficiency.

No one wants aches or injuries, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who is eager to shorten her lifespan. Most unhealthy work lifestyles aren’t created intentionally — people just don’t realize how these behaviors stack up to impact their health. If you’re aware of problematic habits, you can easily come up with solutions.

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Knowing Is Half the Battle — How to Improve Your Health

The good news is that you can improve your health once you identify which behaviors are unhealthy — and it’s easier than you think. Better health is a journey of small steps and constant improvement. It just takes a little forethought and effort.

Here are six main health issues to concentrate on:

1. Bad posture. Just because your job requires you to be on a computer for much of the day doesn’t mean that you need to develop back problems. The important thing is to not stay sedentary for hours on end.

Complete a task, then stand. Pace around your area once, or go grab a glass of water before returning to your desk. Pay attention to your posture and the way your body feels as you sit. To limit strain, adjust your lumbar support and make sure that your chair height and workspace are optimized.

2. Eye and neck strain. Eye and neck strain are becoming increasingly common issues because not only are we on computers all day at work, but we’re also looking at our phones the rest of our waking hours.

A good habit for limiting eye strain is to take sporadic breaks — focus your eyes on something off in the distance, or look out the window to give them a few minutes to relax. You should also make sure to stretch your shoulders and neck, especially if you notice them tightening up. If you have the space in your work area, stand up, and do a few stretches to loosen up your muscles before returning to your task.

3. Poor diet. Being stuck inside an office building for eight hours a day (or more) doesn’t negate your responsibility to maintain a good diet. If there’s no reasonably priced healthy food near your work, prepare your meals the night before to bring with you.

Don’t let yourself go hours between meals — that will only lead to binge eating and empty carbs. And don’t forget water. Dehydration causes more health problems than most people realize. Keep a water bottle handy to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

4. Lack of vitamins. While some vitamin issues may be solved by improving your diet, most adults can’t get the proper vitamins and nutrients from diet alone. And many of us are deficient in vitamin D. Some of this is due to eschewing natural sun exposure, which is our most direct source of this nutrient.

Try taking a multivitamin, or if you’re unsure which vitamins you might have a deficiency in, contact your physician to schedule a blood test.

5. Lack of exercise. One simple thing you can do to get more exercise during the day is to track your steps. Just seeing the number of steps you’ve taken motivates you to move more, to add a few more steps to your total count, and to share your success with friends.

You can also park farther away or take walks on your lunch break — adding small, nonstrenuous movements to your day helps more than you think.

6. Inconsistent checkups. You may feel like you can’t fit a doctor’s visit into your busy work schedule, but getting yourself checked out on a regular basis could end up saving your life.

Gynecological diseases such as ovarian cancer are extremely hard to diagnose because symptoms often mirror those of common ailments. And while the five-year survival rate is high in the early stages of this disease, it quickly drops off as the cancer advances. By getting checked out consistently, you improve your chances of catching health issues at their earliest stages, thereby increasing your chances of effective treatment.

You only get one body and one life to enjoy. Don’t ignore your health by making excuses for your lifestyle at the office. Adding healthier habits to your workday will not only improve your energy and elevate your mood, but also help you live a longer, healthier life.