Between sitting for the majority of the day, chugging Starbucks vanilla lattes to stay alert, and falling into a bad posture habit, it can be difficult to work an office job while prioritizing your health goals. However, it’s not impossible — it can actually become a habit, once you take the right steps. Read on to learn how you can maintain a healthy balance at work while still achieving your fitness goals.
As the day wears on, posture gets put on the back burner. Slouching, letting your chin jut forward (“turtle style”) to look at the computer screen, and holding the phone between your ear and neck all create muscle imbalance and stiffness that can cause headaches.
Bad posture leads to cramped and strained muscles, as well as potential injury while exercising. Studies have shown that poor posture can cause poor mental health, which in turn damages your physical health.
The solution: Many companies allow employees to have stand-up desks, which are ergonomic and can alleviate pain and stiffness from desk chairs. No matter what type of desk or computer you have, it’s important to be mindful of your posture and check yourself a couple times each hour — opt for shoulders back and down, chin tucked back, and chest up. Soon, this will become second nature and you’ll notice your back, neck, and shoulder muscles feeling more relaxed.
2. FOOD — It’s everywhere
The smell of your neighbor’s lasagna for lunch; the vending machines lurking around the corner; the donuts Sally Smith was just so kind to bring in for everyone on the team: in the office, food is everywhere.
A busy schedule doesn’t always allow you to meal prep or even spend time making a substantial dinner once you get home. This leads to eating lunch out or throwing a frozen burrito in the microwave (or worse, not eating lunch altogether). Skipping breakfast can be detrimental to your metabolism and lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart issues.
The solution: Make time to meal prep on the weekends. Fill portable containers with fruit for a mid-morning snack to keep yourself on track until lunch time. Almonds, yogurt, berries, sunflower seeds, and roasted chickpeas will give your brain a boost so you don’t fizzle out or reach for more caffeine. Additionally, try to eat breakfast or a small snack within two hours of waking up to kick start your metabolism and give your brain something to run on — don’t just rely on the coffee or you’ll crash and burn faster than you can click “reply all.”
3. Sitting, Always Sitting
Staying inactive for the majority of the day can no doubt impede your fitness goals. Not only does it make your joints stiff and sore, but it can also decrease flexibility and ignore the muscles you work so hard to strengthen in the gym. It’s been shown that sitting for long periods of time over many years increases your risk of arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.
The solution: Go for a walk or run during lunch hour. Not only does this help you fit in an extra workout, it also loosens your joints and muscles and gives your brain a respite. You’ll come back to the office feeling refreshed and ready to take on afternoon challenges.
If you don’t have time to go for a full-out run, take some laps around your building and climb as many flights of stairs as you can. This can be done in as little as 10 minutes and will get your heart rate up and blood pumping. Every step of exercise will get you closer to achieving your fitness goals.
Getting up early, having a long commute, and working overtime can all cause fatigue, stress, and even anxiety and depression. The last thing many people want to do is drive to the gym and expend even more energy. However, it’s been shown that physical exercise releases endorphins in the brain that boost your mood and will leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than when you left the office. Exercising reduces stress and helps you sleep better at night, so you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed.
To make it easier to get to the gym after work, always keep a bag of workout clothes, sneakers, and headphones in your car. Along with your lunch, pack an afternoon snack like an apple and almonds, Greek yogurt, or low-sodium jerky. This will give you energy to power through your workout and avoid the temptation of post-work happy hour.
Group fitness classes are the perfect way to shake out the stress after a busy day in the office — click here for your free seven-day pass and try some out!