Healthy activities often take a back seat when you are focusing on work, especially if you spend your day sitting in front of a computer. This sedentary work style is becoming even more entrenched as we evolve further into our relationship with technology. Designed to Move reports that physical activity has dropped by 32 percent in the U.S. and by 20 percent in the U.K. in less than two generations due to changes in workplace activities. This shift impacts our ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a changing world.
As Murat Dalkilinç explains in his TED-Ed video, we have about 360 joints and 700 skeletal muscles that, along with our elastic skin, offer synchronized and fluid movement that also supports proper blood flow. Motion is one crucial aspect of a healthy workplace. Ben Medder, a movement coach, also identifies motion as a way to improve learning, emotions and even decision-making. When you combine movement with other healthy choices, you create a lifestyle that promotes optimum functioning for your workday.
Here are five activities to integrate into even the most hectic workday to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1. Exercise at your desk.
Invest in a desk bike or portable pedals to keep exercise at the forefront of your workspace. When you have easy access to this type of health tool, it's a constant reminder of the need to exercise. You can also use simple exercise routines found on YouTube. Establish a time during the day to take a quick 10- or 15-minute workout to get the blood flowing and the joints moving. When you make time during the day to exercise, you give your body the motion it needs to maintain not only physical health but also mental stamina to enhance your day.
2. Stand during the day.
According to Buffer, Dr. David Agus identifies sedentary sitting for five or more hours as the equivalent of smoking 1.25 packs of cigarettes. To fight the workplace culture of sitting for long periods, invest in a standing desk or find places in your office where you can stand for part of the day while you work. You can even propose the implementation of standing stations or standing desks for employees with stationary computers.
3. Drink water.
Our bodies are made up of around 60 to 70 percent water. During the day, water is lost through exercise, sweat and even breathing. Medical News Today specified the need for adequate amounts of water to maintain healthy functioning of the body. Physical and cognitive changes occur when you are not adequately hydrated. Take time to drink small amounts of water throughout the day. Integrate this practice throughout the day to help keep your body working at its best.
Buzz60 offers some helpful tips to make drinking water a daily practice. Keep a bottle of water available at your desk or add flavoring to improve the taste. You can also use phone apps to track your water intake or integrate smart technology at work to remind you to maintain your fluid intake.
4. Keep healthy snacks at your fingertips.
SportMedBC recently discussed a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Economic Research Service that investigated how situational factors like length of workdays affected participants' food choices and other health behaviors. The study found that the amount of time between meals or snacks, the location of food choices, and the number of work hours impacted eating habits. Individuals who delayed eating by five hours instead of four hours between meals or snacks ate 52 extra calories at the next meal. This extended time between eating also contributed to low blood sugar levels, low energy and the inclination to overeat at the next meal. You reduce the risk of these factors when you take time to prepare daily healthy snacks that keep you energized throughout the day.
5. Take a break.
The Vision Council indicated that almost 90 percent of Americans use a digital device for two or more hours a day, and 70 percent of Americans are reported to use two or more devices at a time. Headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and neck pain occur as a result of sitting in front of the computer screen. Simple changes in lifestyle can reduce the strain on your body. Take frequent short breaks from the computer throughout the day to give your eyes and body a chance to recover from the stress. This break would be a good time to drink some water, do a quick round of desk exercises or even change to a standing table. If time permits, take a walk around the building or eat a snack of fruits and veggies to hydrate and re-energize your body.
Creating a healthy workplace requires a little planning and some intentional actions. Set up a plan that works for you. Use timers, reminders or even smart technology to help you integrate these activities into your day. You need to turn your plan into daily practice to make it a habit. The more you practice healthy behaviors, the more integrated they will become in your day.