America's Energy Doctor
If you’re like most office workers in today’s business world, you spend most of your day seated at a desk. For many, the majority of the workday involves using a computer, and maybe you’re on the phone a lot too.
Remaining seated all day, year after year, takes a serious toll on our health—even to the point of significantly shortening our lifespan. The prolonged inactivity decreases our physical fitness and contributes to weight gain, increases our risk of numerous diseases, interferes with our ability to concentrate, and has other ill effects. Also, posture, body positions, and repetitive motions associated with desk and computer usage put us at risk of chronic pain and other complications.
Use the following health tips for office workers to help keep you happy, healthy, focused, and performing your tasks at the top of your game.
Self-Care Advice for Office Workers
- Find ways to move more over the course of the day. That includes at work and outside of work, where you can offset some of the workday’s inactivity. For inspiration, here are some easy ways to increase your daily physical activity while you go about your normal routines.
- Stand up as often and as long as you can. Standing is much better for you than sitting. Stand at your desk, and consider getting (or asking the boss for) an adjustable standing desk or an adjustable base that boosts your computer up so you can stand at it. Stand when you present in a meeting instead of sitting in your chair. Stand while you talk or text on the phone. Stand up and stretch every 30 minutes.
- Take a short walk every hour. Even if you just walk a few circles around your office or down the hall and back, it helps a lot. If you can go up and down a flight or two of stairs, that’s great. Not only is this good for you physically, it keeps you functioning better mentally as well.
- Eat a smart breakfast every morning. The initial burst of fuel from a nutritious breakfast is essential to having sustained energy and ability to focus at work. Here’s some information about a healthy breakfast.
- Add a live plant to your office space. It improves the quality of the air around you and the touch of nature improves your mood. Also, if you have the option—and weather permitting—open a window to let some fresh air in.
- Pay attention to your posture and body positions. Sit up straight in your chair, never slouch or bend your head down. Keep your arms and wrists extend straight out when working on your desk and computer, including while using the mouse; don’t hold your arms or hands angled upward or downward. Your arms should be supported by chair arms or the desk. Your computer screen should be about level with your eyes; looking down more than about 10 degrees can hurt your neck and back, while looking up increases eye strain. Also, the screen should be about an arm’s length from your face to minimize eye strain. Make sure your computer is positioned to accommodate good posture and body positions.
- Focus on improving your posture and back alignment. You have to work at good posture and build up your core, back, and neck muscles to maintain it over the course of the day. Start with these tips for improving your posture.
- Bring your own healthy lunch to work. Eating out usually means you’re getting a lot of unnecessary calories, and it’s tough to make smart eating choices at most restaurants. As an added bonus, it’s a lot more cost effective to pack your own food. Also, don’t eat at your desk; lunch should be an actual break.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day. Staying well hydrated is necessary to good health and lasting energy. While a cup or two of coffee or tea is fine, don’t rely on caffeinated beverages to sustain you. And especially don’t rely on sugary, highly caffeinated energy drinks or sodas. They’re terrible for you, and they invariably bring a crash in energy after the initial spike.
- Disinfect your keyboard, mouse, phone, and doorknob daily. These are harbors for bacteria and viruses, and likely workplace culprits for transmitting illnesses. Disinfectant wipes are convenient and easy to use—even discretely if you’re self-conscious about coming across as a germophobe.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Being well rested is so important to staying alert and aware of your body at your desk all day. If you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, take a look at these tips for better sleep hygiene.