Can finding ways to work out at work really make a difference for overall wellness? Can fueling with healthy foods and beverages turn workplace struggles into successes?
Many people find fitting a workout after the workday unmanageable, but finding intentional ways to incorporate health while working keeps employees healthy and happy. Health and wellness tips for employees are becoming more of a focal point for corporate and small companies alike.
Read on to learn about 22 health tips at work!
How to Stay Active at Work
Contrary to popular belief, staying active throughout the workday does not require a large investment. Small amounts of time, thoughtful activities, and minimal equipment are often the only requirements to get started.
Similar to success at a job, incorporating more movement into the day is all about commitment. Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits at work can help make fitness fit into the 9-to-5.
Walk When You Can
It can be tempting to send an email to someone down the hall or drive the mile it takes to get to work, but walking may be a healthier option.
Consider ways to add walking back into the day. Steps as simple as taking the stairs or walking to work can help improve health in the long-run.
Wear or bring comfortable workout clothing and shoes to work. A good workout starts with appropriate attire, and keeping a pair of tennis shoes in a desk drawer can be the perfect start to supporting more workday workouts.
Take a Stand
Standing up without any supportive mats can cause a lot of pain. Using a cushioned floor mat or other supportive equipment can help reduce fatigue.
Keep it on the Calendar
Scheduling physical activity can make it feel more like an important appointment and less like a chore. Invite a friend to work out at work with you.
Use Little Equipment for Big Results
Small items such as hand weights or resistance bands can easily be kept at a desk. These tools are excellent for basic movement exercises, and small equipment can be used during daily activities without causing a big fuss.
Join a Club
Chances are, there are co-workers with similar goals and interests! Be aware of clubs or groups that engage in regular physical activities together. These can be great opportunities to not only stay active, but also to network and brainstorm with like-minded colleagues.
Ask About Incentives and Options
Some places of work have a gym on-site or a membership incentive to encourage employee health and wellness. Ask superiors or the human resources department about options, incentives, or opportunities available.
Many are surprised to find out the perks offered by their employers!
What to Eat/Drink
Eating at work, especially when working from home, tends to end up in extremes. Most people find they overeat or reach the end of the day and realize they have not eaten anything at all.
Keeping nutrition in check at the office, whether at home or at work, can be both affordable and easy. The following tips can help jumpstart a healthy eating pattern and productive workday.
Focus on Fundamentals
Planning healthy, balanced meals for the workweek is not an exact science. Start by focusing on eating real food, or foods that are rich in nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods and drinks will keep a steady source of fuel going from dawn to dusk.
Keep Work Out of the Kitchen
If possible, avoiding working in the kitchen. Working in an area dedicated to eating can undermine planned snacks and meals and mess with established eating cues.
Check Out the Cafeteria
Many places of work are increasingly offering healthy eating options. Gone are cafeterias of old as work campuses and conference centers make way for trendy cafes and snack shops.
Explore the options for healthy eating that exist within the company. Healthy eating in a large group? Check out options for catering from local eateries.
Meal Plan and Meal Prep
Planning in advance can have significant advantages. Beyond saving time and money, preparing ingredients for busy weekday breakfasts or preparing meal components ahead of time.
Meal prepping can turn choppy workday waves into smooth sailing. Also ensure a healthy lunch break by prepping chicken salad, cucumber sushi, and other protein-packed options.
Use the Five 'P' Steps for Healthy Snacking
The following are five easy steps for healthy snacking:
1. Produce: Keep lots of fresh, pre-cut fruits and veggies on hand so that healthy food becomes a more convenient choice.
2. Pantry: Keep healthy staples such as homemade trail mix, 100% juice, fruit leather, etc. in the pantry so that on-the-go snacks are always available.
3. Protein: Keep snacks high in protein available so that a feeling of fullness stays throughout the day (i.e. nuts, nut butter, seeds, beans, legumes, hummus, whole grains).
4. Portion: Keep tabs on portion sizes to avoid mindless eating.
5. Plan: Keep snacks in mind during meal planning since many people forget to include snacks or smaller meals in their meal preparation process
Work on Water Intake
Headaches and fatigue, both signs of dehydration, can be causes of lost productivity. Keeping tabs on water intake is a simple way to pursue wellness. Have a water bottle at the workstation, and be aware of options for refilling and staying hydrated.
Options like Smart Water Bottle come with an app to optimize health and hydration with every sip. This can help moderate caffeine intake or replace beverage-induced craze-and-crash cycles altogether.
Consider hiring someone or purchasing a meal planning service to compensate for busy workdays. Healthy choices are not a "one-size-fits-all", and it is okay if what works for the workday looks different than other people.
Working at Home
Even working from home, working out can seem like a struggle. The following ideas can help make moving around the house an easy and productive choice.
Set a Timer
It is easy to lose track of time in the middle of a project gazed into a computer screen. Being sedentary for long periods of time can be detrimental to long-term health. Sitting at a desk for hours and hours has even been linked to diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Using a timer, smartwatch, or app to set a timer, configure a device to remind you to move every hour. This can be an easy reminder to get up and get moving, and may even prompt an innovative idea.
Move Over Meetings
Informal meetings and casual discussions can be completely appropriate places to add a bit of movement or walking into the day.
When in doubt, ask for permission and explain how the activity is part of an individual wellness initiative. Others may even join in, getting the whole group up and moving!
Ease Exercise with Desks
Explore all the options for desks when working from home. Treadmill desks, sit-stand risers, and other options for desks that transition from work to workout can help make movement during on-the-job easier.
Create a More Active Agenda
Voice memo apps and recorders make taking notes much easier. Try keeping tabs on random thoughts and notes this way instead of pen to paper.
Bonus! Walking or pacing while pondering a problem may get the blood flowing to the brain and spark an innovative solution.
Stand Up During Phone Calls
Phone calls can be the perfect time to get feet up and moving. Simple steps such as pacing, walking in a circle, or marching in place can be quiet ways to incorporate more movement into the workday.
Bend During Breaks
Sitting at a desk or standing in a factory line all day can leave one feeling stagnant and sore. During breaks, try to move to a different area and stretch.
A recent study found that an 8-minute stretch program resulted in reduced injury rates, time-off requests, and cost savings for employers and employees alike.
Energize with Basic Exercises
Feeling tired? Standing up during a long call or between meetings can get the blood pumping and produce an improved feeling of awareness.
The following are some ideas of basic exercises that require little to no equipment:
• Desk push-ups
• Wall sits
• Calf raises
• Chair exercises
Use Virtual Workout Buddies
Join an online workout group or subscribe to a series of classes. Newer versions of workout equipment are becoming increasingly interactive.
Brands like Echelon or Peloton offer classes, scenic rides, and even ways to get active with friends and family.
The Bottom Line
Exploring all the options is an important part and step to making room for a workout during the workday. If you find something that works best in your work life, embrace it and aim for consistency.
All-in-all, adding exercise into the day requires simple, small efforts. Intentional shifts and lasting healthy habits, such as standing every hour or moving during meetings, can yield big results both physically and mentally.
American Heart Association, Inc. How to Be More Active During the Work Day. Heart.org. Published April 19, 2018. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active/how-to-be-more-active-at-work.
Cleveland Clinic. 10 Tips for Eating Healthy When You're Working From Home. Health.clevelandclinic.org. Published March 20, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/10-tips-for-eating-healthy-when-youre-working-from-home/.
Penn Medicine. Staying Active While Working From Home. Pennmedicine.org. Published March 19, 2020. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2020/march/working-from-home.
Simon S. Tips for Staying Active at Work. Cancer.org. Published May 29, 2018. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/tips-for-staying-active-at-work.html.