Anyone who has worked in an office is probably well acquainted with the feeling of leaving your desk with your back aching, lungs craving fresh air, and your skin itching for some Vitamin D.
For this reason, most of us already know the value of standing and moving around more during the course of the working day, and modern technology has responded aptly – from standing desks to treadmill desks, mini elliptical trainers (yes, this is real) to ergonomic chairs, the commercial world addresses office health in very cool ways.
These expensive devices aren’t the only way to ensure a healthy office life, though. Both your physical and mental health will benefit from making these five habits a part of your daily routine.
1. Stand up!
Who said anything about buying an ergonomic desk? Rather create your own DIY version of these desks. You can use an empty trashcan, boxes, piles of books, or even Tupperware to elevate your monitor, keyboard or laptop.
Keep in mind, though, that standing still all day will also lead to sore muscles (and sore feet!). Instead, use your self-constructed standing desk for 30-90 minutes, and make sure that you have a good posture (back, neck, legs) while doing so.
2. Do the Double Chin
Experts recommend looking at your monitor from a ten degree angle, which means that you don’t actually need to turn your head up or down. If you struggle to find this position, try chin retractions – pulling your chin in slightly, almost like you’re creating a double chin. A great tip is to stand with your back against a wall, making sure that back, neck and head are all aligned. Now go stand behind your desk with your head in exactly the same position!
3. I like to move it
Let’s be realistic about this. Our problems aren’t necessarily the fact that we spend most of the day sitting down – it’s that we’re sitting still. This means that simply standing won’t help if you’re standing still, so remember to move!
Touch the back of your heels with both hands while sitting down, stretch your legs, sit back for three minutes, play with a stress ball… the most important thing is that you take a break to move.
Visit your colleagues at their desks rather than e-mailing, texting, or calling, use the bathroom that is furthest away from your desk, eat lunch in a park, or walk to a cafe for your daily caffeine fix.
4. Snack wisely
Research (and common sense) proves that people who sit behind a desk all day burn less calories than someone moving. Go figure.
Health experts therefore suggest that we snack wisely during the course of the day – avoid dragging the entire content of your fridge to your desk and eating processed snacks like chocolate bars. Instead, keep a supply of nuts, fresh dried fruit, berries, and row vegetables next to your desk.
5. Drink water!
I absolutely refuse to recommend drinking less coffee – that would by hypocritical. But coffee and any other caffeinated drinks cause dehydration. Make up for it by drinking plenty of water (remember the golden rule is six to eight glasses per day).
Getting up to refill your water bottle or glass is also a neat excuse to take a short break to move around.
This is non-negotiable. Stretching is the only way to soothe the muscles that inevitably start to ache when you spend longer than six hours behind a computer every day.
Get up ten minutes earlier and start your day by stretching. Follow it up with a good stretching session when you get home from work too. If possible, make some time for stretching during the day too. Something as simple as stretching your arms, reaching to your toes, and doing lunges in the restroom will already make a big difference.
If you need some advice on what stretches you should be doing, convert to the way of the millennials and download an app!