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A stiff neck, a sore back, and just a feeling of tightness all around your body – common symptoms of any modern desk job.
We spend so much time in front of a screen, just sitting. Eight hours per day, forty hours a week, for years and years and decades and decades.
Even if you love your job to the very last minute and hate going home, the side-effects will be the same – sitting all day is not good for your health. And if you think it’s just about pain, trust us, it gets worse.
First of all, as you age, the pain will become more severe, and your posture will deteriorate further. And if that’s not enough, know that a stiff neck can deteriorate into causing severe headaches.
Tight muscles increase the chance of pulling or even tearing, one during regular physical activity. Then, prolonged sitting increases the chance of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, a general risk of health issues and diseases….
So, the situation seems grim, at the surface at least. However, the core factor that leads to all these issues is that this a very little, simple thing you do on a daily basis that multiplied a thousand times leads to all sorts of issues. Therein lies the rub.
Below you can find tips that work in the same way – very simple pieces of advice, activities, and small changes that, when compounded over the years, will keep you healthy. You don’t need exercise to counter sitting all you-you just need better habits!
In fact, they will make you much healthier in general, and all without any direct exercise. Read on to find out what these are and how you can stay healthy with a desk job.
How to Stay Healthy with a Desk Job (No Exercise Required!)
#1. Take Time for Short Breaks
Breaks are very important.
We can spend hours engrossed in our work, or perhaps simply bored out of our minds, and end up not moving an inch except for lunchtime. For this reason, we suggest you take small breaks from sitting down.
Taking a small break, just enough to walk around for a minute, or perhaps to get a glass of water. The point here is to break the cycle and get some blood in your limbs.
If you want to stay healthy with a desk job, we advise you get some structure for these breaks as well. A simple timer that goes off every 30 to 60 minutes will be more than enough. Maybe go outside and catch some fresh air, just for a second.
#2. Get Some Good Sleep
You’d be surprised just how important getting some sleep is in order to stay healthy with a desk job.
Enough sleep means you have enough willpower, and more energy, to stick to all the healthy habits we are point out here. Namely, when you’re tired and groggy, the last thing you need is a bike ride to the office.
For this reason, we suggest you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
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When you create a regular sleep habit, with a specific time to go to bed and get up every morning you don’t need to hit snooze and you’ll also look and feel refreshed.
That also means you’re less likely to crash into the sofa after work – which is bad, more siting!
#3. Eat More Meals More Often
We tend to forget to eat in the same way we forget to move around. So a key to actually trying to stay healthy with a desk job is eating more, and more often.
This will give you a great opportunity and excuse to take a break, as well as giving you some extra energy throughout the day. Namely, eating several small meals, or healthy snacks, per day, will distribute energy better as well.
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Instead of having one huge meal at lunchtime that will just put you to sleep, it is better if you have several meals throughout the day, giving you small boosts every two hours or so.
Furthermore, research has shown that actually eating more than 3 times per day can help you lose weight, and keep you healthier. Among many other reasons, you will be less likely to overeat. Of course, do try to keep the snacks healthy.
#4. Take a Moment to Stretch
No, you will also notice that stretching will just help you feel much, much better. Namely, if you do it regularly, you can counterbalance any postural issues and pain that you may feel due to you sitting so much every day.
The reason behind this is that a lot of issues stem from tight muscles that are too short, pulling at other muscles, causing you pain.
#5. Drink Water, Stay Hydrated
Water is very important, it’s a horribly neglected element of leading a healthy life. If you want to know how to stay active at work you need to understand just how important hydration is.
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When we are dehydrated, we are sluggish, tired, unmotivated. We are, after all, mostly water, and you need at least 8 cups per day if you want to get the most out of your health.
And as an added bonus, you will get a chance to get up and get a glass of water.
#6. Get Out of Your Car
If possible, try to spend as little time as possible in your car. For example, walking to your workplace, if you’re close enough, can do wonders.
While we don’t suggest you do this during dreadful weather, through hail and tropical rainstorms, we do believe that you can do it much more often than not.
And if you’re thinking about how it may take too much time, try to be honest with yourself. Sure, it may take an hour to reach your office when you walk, but how much time do you spend stuck in traffic?
Pick Up Cycling Instead
Another option is trying out a bicycle. It’s a fantastic form of cardio that is much more pleasant than a simple car ride and is obviously faster than walking. In fact, due to traffic jams and such, it can be faster than going by car as well.
Just try to get a good one. There are numerous types of bicycles, all you have to do is choose which one fits you the best and get a bicycle that can handle your town. Perhaps a simple road bicycle with thin tires is going to be enough to get you around town.
Note that while these two pieces of advice may seem like exercise, they aren’t exactly that. Namely, we don’t suggest you change your day much in any way. Adding walking and biking to your workplace won’t really take away from your free time much, if at all. But, it will, over several months, if not sooner, have a drastic impact on your health.
#7. Move as Much as You Can
If you’re thinking “How can I stay healthy at my desk job?” even more, we suggest you move as much as you can. We already mentioned walking and biking to your job, but you should try to get as much movement in your day as you can.
For example, try to avoid the elevator as much as possible. Instead, take the stairs. When you’re talking with someone over the phone, pace. Actually, walk around, don’t just sit at your desk.
If you’re on your phone often, this can add up to a lot of movement at the end of the day. Furthermore, it will actually help you think.
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#8. Work Standing Up
An interesting thing you can try in order to stay healthy with a desk job is to check out a standing desk. For obvious reason, you will avoid the most common issues that are caused by sitting because, well, you won’t be sitting at all.
So, spending several hours per day standing, and taking a break by sitting down from time to time, can do wonders for your health.
#9. Plan Your Meal Times
Now, we already mentioned that breaking up your meals into six per day will help you stay healthy with a desk job. However, what we haven’t mentioned is that how you schedule them is important.
If you simply forget, or don’t find the time, to get some food in your by, let’s say, at 1 pm, you will feel a drop in energy and willpower. Also known as the dreaded 3 pm slump!
This will ruin the focus you have on your work, and will also make you more susceptible to binging on low-quality food and snacks.
We suggest you have a meal directly before work, and to always carry fruit and nuts with you, just in case you get a bit peckish.
#10. Proper Posture is Key
If you want to stay healthy with a desk job you need to be mindful of your posture at all times. Primarily, a big cause of back pain is poor posture, both when you’re standing up, and when you’re sitting down.
So, try to keep your posture as straight as possible. When you’re walking, keep your shoulders back, your chin up, and your chest out. When sitting down, keep your eyes in line with the screen, without bending your neck. Your arms should be parallel with the ground when you’re typing, and don’t slouch, at all.
#11. Think About Your Diet
Finally, the last of our healthy tips for office workers, thinking about your diet. There is this danger, this tendency of people going with the flow and just eating whatever is available near their office.
We understand that you won’t really have time to cook, let alone go to the other side of town and get a nice salad, but try to compromise. It’s hard to eat healthy with a busy lifestyle.
We mentioned several times how you should bring some fruit with you, but even as simple as making healthy choices and compromising can help you out.
A few better diet choices could be:
- Get a chicken burger without any mayo next time, instead of a bacon-wrapped cheese sandwich.
- Choose fish and salads over pastries as often as you can.
- Minimize the amount of sugar you put in your coffee, and avoid junk food as much as possible.
You Can Stay Healthy at Your Desk without “Exercise”
And there you have it folks, some tips on how to stay healthy with a desk job, without doing any direct exercise. You do not need a gym membership to stay healthy at your office job.
Get Your Printable Habit Trackers
Want to stay healthy at your desk job? It starts with one tiny healthier habit at a time. Get your FREE Printable Habit Trackers, with pages for 30 and 31 days and make it stick.
Remember, it’s all about keeping proper posture and taking care of your body. Some stretching here and there, walking around a bit, standing at your job, it’s the little things that add up and does wonder for your health.
And if you are looking for exercises to counter sitting all day, start with practicing Tai Chi or Qigong Mediation. Both are amazing for stretching, loosening the body as well as improving circulation. Plus, they’re quick and easy can be practiced anywhere, from your office hallway to the park across the street. These tiny habits are perfect for your new year fitness goal too.
Stay hydrated, eat well, try to take the stairs as often as possible, and you will see changes in no time.
How do you stay healthy at your desk job?
More About Guest Contributor
Lena Hemsworth is a lifestyle blogger, foodie, and a lover of a good book. She’s also an everlasting enthusiast who believes that there is nothing better than starting your day with a hot cup of coffee.