High and low tech ways to stay healthy at work

Photo courtesy of Juhan Sonin

Photo courtesy of Juhan Sonin

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been MIA because I just started my first big girl job. I have joined corporate America where I sit in front of a screen for 10 hours a day plus behind the wheel for another hour or so each way. It’s tough for any person, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of my (or your) life as a fit geek. Here are five high and low tech ways to stay healthy at work.

  1. Take Breaks
    Taking regular breaks during the work day helps you not only stay active(ish) but also makes you a more productive employee. Hear that corporate America?? Studies, like this one from the University of Illinois, have showed time and time again that regular breaks help employees improve mood and focus.
    High-tech: Fitness trackers, like the Jawbone UP, vibrate when you’ve been sitting still for too long. The little buzz on your wrist is a friendly reminder to get up, stretch, and take a little mental break before hitting your stride again.
    Low-tech: Schedule your day with breaks built in. Take a few minutes, and schedule reminders to go off no later than 90 minutes apart so that you remember to get up and get moving throughout the day. You can also use your online calendar, a white board or plain old pen and paper to track how often you get up and for how long.
  2. Stand Up
    This may be another obvious one, but sitting too much increases your risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. When you spend the day sitting in a chair, it’s not good for any of your muscles. If your computer is tethered to your sit-down desk, it’s harder to stand up when you work, so you have to be more creative.
    High-tech: Buy an activity-conscious desk. If your office is okay with it, get a treadmill desk – one where you can walk in place while you work, which can help clear your mind and increase your productivity. However, if you can’t bring a motorized desk into your workplace, get a standing desk or a convertible workstation for your normal desk that allows you to sit or stand.
    Low-tech: Print any materials you need to read that day in the morning or as you get them. When you go to read one of them, stand up – bonus points for pacing.
  3. Track what you eat
    If your office is anything like mine, there are sweets everywhere, and even when you try and grab a ‘healthy’ salad at lunch, it turns out to be just as fattening as a cheeseburger. As your activity level decreases, how can you be sure you’re eating the right amount of food and items that are good for you? Track it of course.
    High tech: There are hundreds of nutritional tracking apps out there, and which one is best is largely a personal choice. My favorite is iTrack Bites, which works like Weight Watchers. You input the nutrition (fat, fiber, carbs, protein) of what you’re eating, and it gives you a point number. However, if you prefer to look at the whole label or track calories, it might be better for you to go with an app like MyFitnessPal.
    Low tech: The low-tech way to eating healthy is just to be conscious. Keep a notebook at work and write down what you had to eat each day. If you remember you snacked on some birthday cake on Monday, you might be less likely to have that cookie with lunch on Thursday. You can also monitor how many servings of fruit and vegetables you’re putting into your system and aim to get the recommended amount each work day.
  4. Exercise When/Where You Can
    When you’re going non-stop finding time and places to exercise can be a challenge, so you have to proactively take steps to find out what works for you to stay active on the job.
    High-tech: There are no shortage of movement-based apps for your phone. Some, like Get Fit While You Sit, text you reminders with specific exercises to do at your desk or while commuting. While others, like the beautifully designed Human co., focus on ensuring you’re active for at least 30-minutes a day overall.
    Low-tech: Easy low-tech ways to stay active at work include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, bonus points if you work several stories up. There is also always the classic of taking a walk on your lunch break. This is especially relaxing if you can find a nice park or neighborhood to walk through.
  5. Stay hydrated the right way
    Last but not least, to stay healthy at work, drink water – and lots of it. When you keep your body hydrated, you help everything from your muscles to the kidneys. It also has an added bonus of helping you to eat less by helping you to feel fuller for longer.
    High-tech: If you are serious about staying hydrated, buy a water bottle that tracks your water consumption, like BluFit. However, you can also download an app. One that was recommended to me is WaterMinder, which allows you to set hydration goals, tracks your consumption history, and pushes you reminders to drink water.
    Low-tech: Have a fun, cute cup (I personally use a kick-ass wonder woman one) right besides you at all times. As soon as it’s empty fill it up again. Another trick is to put rubber bands or bracelets around your water cup. Every time you fill it up again, take a band off the bottle and put it on your wrist or in another visible place. It’s an easy, visual reminder of how much water you have consumed that day.
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