There’s no getting around it: office jobs are often linked to a sedentary lifestyle. If you predominantly work a desk job, it can be challenging to balance your roles and responsibilities with staying healthy at work, particularly with a never-ending stream of workplace birthday celebrations, end-of-week drinks, or team events.

If you’re looking to incorporate more healthy habits into your workday, it’s important to take it one step at a time and focus on little changes. From taking standing breaks to planning and meal-prepping for your work lunches, these 8 health tips will help improve your general wellbeing at work.

1. Take standing breaks

It’s been well-documented that sitting down for long periods of time is unhealthy, and can lead to pain in your back and neck. But unfortunately for many office workers, sitting down comes with the job. By taking standing breaks throughout the work day, you can stimulate blood flow to your body, boost your energy, and help prevent back and neck pain.

To take it one step further, you could consider a standing desk. But if that’s not an option, studies have shown that standing for at least 30 minutes a day can boost your energy. Whether it’s taking a short walk during the day or setting reminders to stand and stretch once every hour, these little actions add up and keep your blood flowing and boost your productivity levels at work.

2. Choose the stairs over the lift

Taking the stairs can quickly raise your heart rate, if even for just a short amount of time. If you don’t have a lot of time to commit to exercise, taking the stairs when coming to and from the office is a great way to improve circulation and cardiovascular health, as well as support your mental health. On top of this, studies show that each flight of stairs you take daily actually decreases the age of your brain.

3. Bring healthy snacks

Snacking is a common habit that can be detrimental to your health goals, and with biscuits and pastries often floating around the workplace, it’s hard not to say yes to a cookie or two. However, by bringing your own healthy snacks, such as almonds or carrots, you can keep your energy levels up throughout the day and avoid the 3pm slump. As a Harvard study shows, eating more than three times a day can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and even promote weight loss. Just remember to make sure that what you’re snacking on throughout the day is light and not full of sugar.

4. Pack your own lunch (and save money)

It’s a lot more difficult to make healthy eating decisions when you’re eating out, so bringing your lunch to work can help you control what you’re eat throughout the day. Whether you’re worried about taking in too many calories or too much sugar or carbohydrates, packing your lunch is the best way to make sure your healthy eating habits aren’t compromised. Plus avoiding the food court, takeout, restaurants and delivery services means you’ll end up saving money in the long run.

5. Find a health buddy

Like anything at work, achieving goals is much easier when it’s a team effort and social networks are key to maintaining the motivation needed to stay healthy in the long run. Look for coworkers who also want to stay healthy at work and share meals and snacks together in the park, or take stretching or walking breaks together throughout the day. You could even try to bring your healthy habits into the boardroom, and set up standing or walking meetings to encourage others to embrace a healthy lifestyle at work as well.

6. Drink lots of water

Drinking plenty of water is not only important to keep you from snacking unnecessarily, it also helps you stave off dehydration which can cause headaches, fatigue, and problems focusing, and can also help you avoid sugary drinks and caffeine. Staying hydrated is also an important part of maintaining healthy blood flow and joint health, and one of the best ways to stay healthy at work is to drink several glasses of water throughout the day. Bring a water bottle with you to work so that you can fill it up throughout your day, and set yourself a goal to drink at least eight glasses, or 2 litres.

7. Create a schedule and stick to it

Whether it’s going to the gym at lunch or before/after work, building habits is an important part of maintaining healthy lifestyles. Beyond going to the gym on a regular basis, it’s good to focus on little things like aiming to have a scheduled number of walking or stretching breaks throughout your day. While keeping to your schedule will help you stay healthy, remember to forgive yourself if you miss something – as long as you are doing your best to create a healthy work schedule, you’re reaping the benefits.

8. Don’t ignore your mental health

There’s a direct connection between stress and your health. Stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, as well as a host of other negative effects on your body and daily life, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re staying mentally and emotionally healthy throughout your work day. Take some time to do breathing exercises, or go outside for a break in order to get some fresh air – especially if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed at work.

Your work environment can also have a dramatic effect on your mental and emotional health. Try to keep your workstation clean and organised, and decorate your space with pictures or objects that make you happy. 

While many employers might focus on building a healthy work lifestyle as part of World Health Day, it’s important to remember that building healthy workplace habits comes from the little actions you do on a daily basis. Focus on setting goals and following up, and subscribe to blogs with health tips of the day – the more you prioritise your health in the office, the more likely you are to benefit as a result.

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