While most people spend about one third of their waking hours at work, having an office job means spending more than one third of your waking hours sedentary or with very little movement and shift in position, which can have long-term negative effects on your health. Check out this helpful list of 5 things to avoid to stay healthy at work, courtesy of consumer health website Treato.
1. Take regular breaks
This is the most important point of all. Don’t sit all day in the office without giving yourself regular breaks. Unlike the computer that you spend all day using, you are not a machine. Your mind needs breaks to stay sharp, especially when you’re under pressure, but not only that, sedentary lifestyle is not good for your health either and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and chronic back pain.
If possible, step away from your desk at least once every hour. Instead of sending an email to a colleague why not just walking up to his desk and talking to him directly? Alternatively, get up from your chair and stand up while organising your notes, your desk or even when talking on the phone. Use part of your lunch hour to walk around and get a little exercise.
2. Keep your hands clean
Think of all the objects that coworkers share: coffee machine, copier, conference phone, etc. There’s no ignoring the reality that an office is a massive germ incubator. Especially during the cold and flu season, wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitiser. Also, be sure to clean your desk and keyboard every week. Not looking after hygiene at your work is a big no no. Do you really want to get ill only because you cannot be bothered to wash your hands before eating or clean your desk regularly?
3. Drink plenty of water (and cut down on coffee)
Coffee is a drink of choice for many office dwellers. However, drinking more than four cups of coffee a day can cause symptoms like anxiety, elevated heart rate and upset stomach. When you’re feeling a bit sluggish in the afternoon, instead of reaching for an instant coffee, try downing a glass of water. Minor dehydration, and not simply fatigue, might be causing your energy to crash later in the day. Always have a glass of water on your desk, trying to drink as often as you can, and don’t forget to fill it up regularly. If your workplace doesn’t already have one, talk to your boss about getting an office water dispenser for employee use.
Avoid dehydration to keep your mind sharp and internal organs and skin healthy.
4. Avoid unhealthy snacks
Busy days at work often lead to skipped meals. When you don’t have time for a proper meal, snacking is the only way to keep hunger at bay. Instead of nibbling on crisps or biscuits, try a healthier option like fruit, nuts or a natural yoghurt with fruits and honey. To avoid the temptation of treats in the office kitchen, bring your own snacks from home. Hummus with veggies is another healthy snack to consider.
5. Avoid indoor air pollution (if you can)
The quality of indoor air has a big impact on health, comfort and productivity of office workers. In winter it’s especially an issue as the indoor air can easily get dry, hot and stale due to poor ventilation. Diseases like the common cold and flus can spread more efficiently in poorly ventilated buildings. Also, an indoor pollution can build up over time resulting in higher levels of dust, carbon monoxide and allergenic particles.
If you have windows in your office make sure you open them at least once a day to let some fresh air in. If you work in a large office building with the air conditioning regulating the temperature, the best way of ensuring you get clean air into the building is to make sure the air conditioning or ventilation system has appropriate air filters fitted (check with your employer).
How are you staying healthy at work? Do you have any tips to add?
David Noble is a health and wellness editor at Treato. Outside of work, he enjoys running, reading and traveling. He is also an avid NBA fan. Go Mavericks!