The workplace can be stressful and it is often hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the job. Since there are so many different types of work environments out there, people need flexible strategies for getting healthy and staying that way. If you find yourself at the vending machine more than at the salad bar in the cafeteria, or if you're feeling sluggish at your desk all day, this article will offer a few tips to help you get back on track. Feeling better will help you work better!
Part 1 of 3:Staying Active and Alert on the Job
1Exercise to get to work. Getting a workout in before your shift can energize you for the day ahead. It has the added benefit of cutting down on your transportation costs. If you live relatively close to where you work, consider these strategies to get in a bit of exercise before your workday even properly begins:
Commute to work on a bike. Wear proper safety gear such as a helmet and pads, or a reflective vest so that drivers can see you clearly.
Select one or two days a week to jog to work. Jogging on a commute may require you to keep a change of clothes at your workplace. A facility with a locker room or changing area may also be necessary.
If distance and time allow for it, choose a nice day to walk to and from work. Take in the fresh air and use this time to clear your thoughts and relax before heading into the office. You might even walk to public transportation stops. Public transportation might be a commute option for you. If so, choose a route that will allow you to walk part of the way.
You might even consider an unconventional way of exercising on your way to work, such as kayaking down a river to get to work or skateboarding to work.
If you aren't able to exercise on your way to work, you can get a short workout before you get ready. Even just 7 minutes of exercise is enough to stay fit.
2Bring a change of workout clothes and go directly to the gym after work. If you go home first, you might be tempted to stay at home and skip your workout altogether. Starting your workout routine at the end of your workday might give you more motivation to exercise and for a more consistent routine.
Or, you might consider hitting the gym before you go to work in the morning. Studies have shown that you can burn more calories throughout the day by exercising in the morning. However, it is also important to choose a time of day that will work for you so you are more likely to stick with your routine.Trustworthy SourceAmerican Heart AssociationLeading nonprofit that funds medical research and public educationGo to source
3Set realistic goals for yourself. Getting healthy is a big goal and it can include many things. Try to take some time to identify the individual goals you are working towards, such as losing 10 pounds, improving your mile run time, or simply eating fewer unhealthy foods.
Make sure that you set goals that are SMART. This means that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source An example of a SMART goal might be something like, “I want to lose 10 pounds over the course of the next eight weeks.”
Seek support from your friends and family as you work towards your goals. Let them know that you are trying to be healthier at work and ask for their support.
4Stay fit during the workday. Some jobs have more flexible work hours, allowing employees to take longer breaks if the time is made up during the shift.
Take advantage of your company's on-site gym if one is available. They may also be partnered with a nearby fitness center.
Take the stairs instead of using the elevator
Go for a walk outside after eating lunch
Organize a basketball game in the parking lot with a few of your coworkers.
Toss a baseball or football around with a work buddy.
An extended work break is a good time to get in a long-distance jog.
Or, you could hit the gym during your lunch break and just have a light bite for lunch after you finish.
5Energize your daily tasks by making them more active. If you have a sedentary job (lots of sitting around), moving around more during the course of the day is a good way to increase your activity level.
Take the stairs in your building (if you work in a skyscraper it may not be practical to climb the stairs to your office on the 34th floor).
Lift more weight than you're used to. If the office needs more photocopy paper, make an exercise of it - take a few trips to carry each box instead of using a cart.
Walk to a coworker's desk instead of calling them on the phone. You'll increase the number of steps you take each day and appear more personable.
If you must eat lunch away from work, walk there. Getting a carry-out order and bringing it back to eat at work will increase your appetite. However, keep in mind that packing a lunch is usually healthier. If you have to order your lunch, then try to order something healthy.
6Schedule break time wisely. Break time is a worker's right that shouldn't be taken for granted. Use that time effectively and you'll be healthier for it!
How you put break time to use depends on the type of job you do. If you need rest, take a breather. If you've been sitting all day, get up and move around!
Know the break time policies at your place of work. Ask a supervisor if you're not sure. Follow them and don't abuse them.
Take a walk whenever you get a break. Create different routes in the corridors of your building or outside if the weather is nice.
If your break time is limited there are exercises that you can do at your desk. Stretch out your limbs. Shake off the fatigue. Get your blood flowing!
7Relax, don't tense up. If your job involves intense physical or mental activity, take time to unwind. Stepping away for a few moments can help calm and re-focus your mind on the task at hand.
Periods of high stress are when we often fall back on bad habits. Resist the urge to cope with caffeine, a cigarette, or sweets. All three will only serve to keep you wound up.
Listen to relaxing or stimulating background music to help you stay focused and be more productive.
If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, wash your face with cold water, stretch your body and take several deep breaths. The additional influx of oxygen to your body will help increase your focus and productivity at work.
The workday can be hectic for many people. If that's you, take a break to de-stress. There are many options available: meditation, prayer, or reading. Choose something you enjoy!
Try using some aromatherapy by putting a few drops of essential oil on your wrist. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in to feel more relaxed.
If you need to blow off some steam, vent a little by talking to a trusted friend or colleague.
Part 2 of 3:Maintaining a Healthy Diet
1Learn to count calories. Calorie counting is not a diet, but a way to keep track of the amount of energy that comes from food and the amount of energy used by your body.Trustworthy SourceUSDA Center for Nutrition Policy and PromotionU.S. agency responsible for promoting good nutrition based on scientific researchGo to source
There are several ways to count calories. Many fitness websites and apps have built-in calculators to help you.
If daily calories from food total more than the daily number of calories you burn, you may be gaining weight.
If daily calories from food total less than the daily number of calories you burn, you will probably lose weight.
2Enjoy a nutritious breakfast. We've all heard that"breakfast is the most important meal of the day."But there's really truth to this saying! Studies have shown a relationship between eating a responsible breakfast and lower body weight, or less weight gain over time.
Cereal, a slice of whole-wheat toast, fresh fruit, and yogurt are all healthy choices.
Slow-cooked oatmeal with berries, seeds, nuts, and coconut oil is delicious and will help keep you full until lunch time.
A good breakfast may be more helpful than hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock. Make time in the morning to fit breakfast into your pre-work routine.
If you are pressed for time in the morning, try fixing breakfast ahead of time. Hot or cold cereal can be prepared in batches and dished out into individual containers for you to eat on the run. Fresh fruit is also easy to eat on the go.
Sometimes it's more convenient to grab food on your commute. In that case, choose healthier options: a muffin,"to go"servings of oatmeal, or a yogurt.
3Regulate your caffeine intake. Sure, it puts some extra pep in your step. But like any drug, it is possible to overdose on caffeine, causing irritability, restlessness, and sleepless nights. None of those symptoms helps you be your best at work!
Cap your caffeine consumption at 400 milligrams per day. That's the equivalent of 4 cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or 2 energy shot drinks.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Establish a caffeine schedule to distribute your consumption more evenly. For example, have an espresso in the morning, a cup of brewed coffee before lunch, and another in the afternoon. To help you sleep, set a time of day (like 4:00 pm) after which you won't drink caffeine.
Green or black tea can be a lower caffeine alternative to coffee, depending on the type of tea and the serving size.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Counteract your daily coffee house fix with alternatives: orange juice, skim milk, water, and/or plain brewed coffee.
Sip warm water throughout the day to help you stay hydrated and feel productive without having caffeine.
Many caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and cola have low-caffeine or no-caffeine versions.
A small piece of dark chocolate can be a sweet afternoon pick-me-up.
4Plan ahead when eating out. If you leave your lunch plans to the last minute, you might end up choosing a less healthy option, especially if you're short on time.
Look for healthy options during a restaurant lunch meeting. Many restaurant chains now offer low calorie or diet selections for health-conscious customers.
A ready-made salad or take-away salad bar is a good option if you work near a large grocery store chain.
Food trucks have become very popular by parking lots of meal choices right outside your work site. It's still up to you to make those choices healthy ones! Look for a truck that offers salads or healthy wraps.
Salad vending machines are the latest trend in healthy lunches.Look for them to appear in a city near you!
5Bring a healthy lunch to work. Taking the time to prepare healthy meals at home is often the best way to ensure a nutritious lunch. By carefully selecting ingredients at the grocery store, you can better count calories and avoid foods that you're intolerant or allergic to. Stick with lean proteins and vegetables to ensure you have a healthy meal.
A healthy lunch made at home might consist of brown rice (with vegetables) and grilled or baked chicken. (Brown rice offers extra dietary fiber and chicken is a lean meat with lots of protein.)
Home cooked leftovers can also be a healthier alternative to eating out, depending on the dish.
Brown bag it: pack a sack lunch with a sandwich, cut vegetables like celery sticks, and a healthy treat like fruit-flavored yogurt or fresh fruit.
If you're pressed for time before work, bring a can of soup that can be heated up in a microwave-safe container. Avoid varieties of soup that are high in sodium.
6Choose snacks and beverages wisely. When it comes to consuming unnecessary calories at work, snacks and drinks are a common culprit. Foods you eat while"grazing"at your desk or in the break room often go unnoticed, even if you're counting calories.
Reach for a low-calorie and low-glycemic snack if you feel hungry before lunch. Bring a bag of pretzels, reduced-fat popcorn, nuts, or cut vegetables with low-fat dressing for dipping. These will keep you satiated without the guilt.
Avoid high-calorie sodas and sugary juices at all times. Instead drink something that will increase your metabolism and also doesn't increase your calories, like green tea.
Stay hydrated! Water is always a smart choice. It's a crucial nutrient for your body without taking in any additional calories. Keeping yourself hydrated means keeping your brain hydrated as well, which results in clearer thinking.Trustworthy SourceFamilyDoctor.orgFamily-focused medical advice site run by the American Academy of Family DoctorsGo to source
Chew gum as an alternative to mindless snacking. Avoid gum that is high in sugar or artificial ingredients.
Resist treats at work. Coworkers may often bring baked goods to share or hold potlucks where everyone brings a dish to pass. If you can't avoid them, eat wisely and don't overindulge.
Part 3 of 3:Participating in Workplace Wellness
1Ask your employer if they have a workplace wellness program. Workplace wellness programs are activities or policies designed to support healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes while at work Trustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source More employers are recognizing that healthy workers are productive workers and that prevention is cheaper than paying for health care costs down the road.
Your Human Resources representative is the best person to ask. Your supervisor(s) might also be able to help you.
Some labor unions offer workplace wellness services. If you belong to a union, ask your local steward for more information.
Sometimes you can even get a deduction on your health insurance if you do things like go to the gym and work with a wellness coach.
2Make your desk, office, or station at work more comfortable. Fitting a job to a person's body is called ergonomics. The goal of ergonomics is to position your body in order to avoid long term muscle and joint problems.Trustworthy SourceUS Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standardsGo to source
Gel and foam pads are available to cushion the wrists as you type on a keyboard. They are designed to protect against Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Adjust the height of your chair and computer screen to accommodate your height and promote good sitting posture.
Some people opt for a computer-mounted workstation that allows them to stand up while they work.
Ergonomic floor pads cushion the feet and leg joints if your job requires you to stand in place for extended periods of time.
If you have trouble seeing your computer screen clearly, ask your supervisor or IT professional if you can get a larger monitor. You may even be able to hook up two or three monitors to your desk workstation!
3Recruit coworkers. There is strength in numbers! Sometimes it can be easier to meet health and fitness goals as part of a group effort.
Form a weight loss club. Count and track calories together. Support each other through difficult times and cheer each other on. A dieting group can help you withstand the temptation of work treats!
Find a workout buddy. Jogging or walking during breaks may be more fun as a social activity. Workout partners also help to keep the other partner accountable to their goals.
Find out if your company offers intramural sports, like a softball or basketball team. Team sports provide both fitness and camaraderie!
Quitting smoking may also be easier if you don't have to do it alone. Even if you only want to cut back for now, you may be able to find a coworker willing to make the same goal.
4Talk to your health care providers. With rising healthcare costs and obesity epidemics, more and more emphasis will be put on preventative health. Look for fitness and nutrition to be a bigger part of health care in the future.
Many community health centers are partners in workplace wellness initiatives and might be a good source for more information.
Consult your health insurance plan. If your employer has wellness policies in place, they are probably already part of your benefits package. Call the insurance provider customer service line or talk to your HR rep.
Some employers may pay part of your gym membership as an employee benefit.
If you are a public servant, some gyms may offer you a discount. Ask your local gym if membership discounts are available for firemen or police officers.
5Visit a health care provider for a screening. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be proactive about your health. Not only will you feel better at work, but it will help you conserve sick days and be more productive!Trustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
Effective workplace wellness programs can help reduce the risk of heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease or CVD. You may be required to visit a doctor to test your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Some employers provide free on-site screenings to check for CVD risk factors: blood pressure, weight, body mass index or body fat percentage.
Some employers provide free seasonal flu shots. Getting a flu shot can protect you from that virus being passed around the office. Annual flu shots may also be covered by your insurance plan.