22 March 2018
Most of us work in an office – and while there are many perks to a desk job, we can all agree that sitting on your ass all day isn’t the best thing for our health. That oh-so-comfy chair you sink into for 40+ hours a week can make you feel like a sluggish sloth. And when you’re making money moves, there isn’t always a ton of time to be up in the gym just working on your fitness. But it’s not all doom and gloom: with a little initiative and these sneaky tricks, you can make wellbeing a part of your workday.
Fill it up when you get to work, and then put it on your desk. Every time you look at it, take a sip. The goal is to drink a full bottle before lunch, and then another bottle before you leave. Hello, hydration! Upping your H20 wards off headaches and tiredness (a side effect of Excel spreadsheets), and boosts your mood and energy. Plus, you’ll need more refills and bathroom breaks – both excellent excuses to stand up! If the taste of water bores you to tears, throw in some fruit or herbs for flavour, like raspberries, lime and mint.
As soon as the clock ticks over, find a reason – any reason – to move around. Go to the photocopier, make a cup of tea, or take the stairs to the bathroom a few levels down. If you need to ask a colleague a question, save yourself from sending a zillion emails and just walk over to their desk. (And if someone stops by yours, stand up while you’re chatting). By taking a few minutes to move, you’ll get the oxygen flowing through your body and hit the refresh button on your brain.
Top tip: While you’re at it, pop over to HR to ask about switching up your workspace. Maybe they can get you an adjustable desk (so you can alternate between standing and sitting down) or a Swiss ball. Who needs Pilates?
It’s easy to eat lunch at your desk while scrolling through emails, but you have all day to do that. Plus, you’re entitled to escape the office – for many of us, it’s the only time we have to ourselves. You’ll be more productive later on if you give your mind a rest, fuel up with food, and get some sunshine. And if you can sneak in a bit of exercise, that’s a huge bonus! On your busiest days, recharge by going for a brisk walk around the block, or strolling to the salad place that’s a little further away. If you have a longer lunch break, don your activewear for a full workout. Head to the office gym, hit a yoga class, or go for a run while having a date with Drake. You could even start a little bootcamp. Rope your boss into paying for a trainer – use the term ‘workplace wellness.’
Top tip: Map out your week in workouts on a Sunday. Whether you go in the morning, at lunch, or after work, bring your workout gear with you to avoid making a pit-stop at home. Otherwise, it’s just too tempting to flop over on the couch with a family-sized block of Cadbury. You’re only human.
Swap sit-down meetings for walks when you can. For internal meetings and brainstorms, round up your colleagues for a stroll around the block, and walk while you talk. This is a fab way to boost creativity while getting your daily dose of vitamin D and squeezing in some fitness. Back in the office, if you have a conference or phone call, unless you really need to be sitting and taking notes, put on your headphones and pace up and down the meeting room.
If it’s pouring rain or disgustingly humid outside, do a mini workout at your desk. And remember, as long as you have swag, no one will dare say a thing! They might even join in.
Let’s start with exercises you can do on the sly at your desk, such as kegels. For abs of steel, squeeze the muscles in your core for one minute, then release. To tone up your legs and glutes, do knee tucks. Shuffle your butt to the edge of your chair, then hold onto the arms and lean back. Press your knees and ankles together, tighten those abs, and raise your knees. To stretch it out, do arm circles, wrist rolls, neck tilts, and shoulder shrugs. You can also extend both legs straight in front of you (off the floor), then flex and point your toes.
Ready to stand up? Try touching your toes, doing push-ups or tricep dips at your desk, or going all out with star jumps. And to werk on your booty, drop it low in a squat (we know you know how). 😉
Top tip: Buy a Fitbit – it’s an annoyingly good guilt trip. You’ll be clocking 10,000 steps in no time. To get there faster, just take the ‘scenic’ route wherever you go.
To prevent the desperate 3.30pm run to the vending machine, have a drawer dedicated to healthy snacks. Stock it up with nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, bliss balls, and a rainbow of herbal teas. That way, when the munchies hit, you won’t even have to think about it. Oh, and when the fourth birthday cake of the week is being passed around the office, have a snack. If you’re still craving the treat after that, allow yourself a couple of bites.
The idea here is to hook exercise into something you have to do anyway, like commute. Walking or cycling to the office is ideal, but if it’s too far away, hop off the bus or train a stop or two early so you can get some steps in. If you drive to work, park a few blocks away from the building.
Your Nan might be a nag, but she was right about posture! Unless you want to end up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, sit up tall in your chair. When we sit at a computer, we tend to get drawn into the screen and crane our necks forward. Now, if you think of your head as a bowling ball (yep, it’s that heavy!), this puts a massive strain on the neck and spine. To counteract that, roll your shoulders back and down and tuck your chin in so everything’s lined up. This’ll probs feel super weird at first, but it’ll be a habit soon enough.
Sometimes, it’s your computer that’s the problem. Check yours out for a second. The top of the screen should be level with your eyes, so adjust your monitor if you need to. If you use a laptop, grab a stand and keyboard for the office (hi HR, me again!).
Words by Katia Iervasi.
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