Not many people have sat at their desks and said “I’d much rather be digging a ditch.” But the truth is that sitting hunched over a desk, breathing recycled air and pumping your retinas full of artificial light can be a lot less healthy than outdoor manual labour jobs. Unfortunately, some of us have to do the hard yards and spend our working lives ensconced in our cubicles, smiling at our lurgy-leaking co-workers. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to make an office environment not just bearable, but fun and healthy. We’ve tried to adopt a lot of them at Smile IT, starting off with creating an open-plan office that’s breezy, colourful and has its own resident smoothie-maker. Here’s a few more ideas we have to help you stay healthy at a desk job:
1. Eat (a healthy) breakfast
A wholesome and nutritious breakfast is going to set you up for the morning. We’re not talking a greasy fry-up everyday – think muesli, fruit, oats and yoghurt. You’ll have the energy to last until lunch, and you won’t snack on rubbish halfway through the morning.
2. Take your own healthy lunch
Snack bar lunches are a greasy affair, and a lot more expensive than bringing your own meal to work. Take control of what you’re putting into your body and save a few bucks by packing something healthy before you leave home in the morning.
3. Lots of water
Ditch the three cups of strong coffee in the morning and up your water intake instead. Adequate hydration is essential for your brain function, concentration and energy levels, and drinking lots of water will also improve your mood. Your body (and your coworkers) will thank you for it.
4. Avoid office treats
Yes the chocolate brownies look good and taste good and you don’t want to offend Bob in the accounts department whose birthday it is. It’s tough to say no, but if you are honest with yourself and your coworkers you’ll find it easier and easier to give the celebratory doughnuts a skip. Try keeping a bag of nuts in your desk, and munch on them as an alternative.
5. Take hourly breaks and stretch
Every hour set a reminder to stand up, have a stretch and walk around for a couple of minutes. It helps with blood flow, cramp prevention and backache, plus your focus will be recharged.
6. Cycle or walk to work
In Brisbane, like most first world cities, we’re blessed with an amazing network of bike tracks. For city workers its often quicker to use them than deal with the hordes of traffic winding their way down the freeway. If you have to drive, try park a few blocks away and briskly walk to the office.
7. Walk and work
Steve Jobs of Apple fame was renowned for his ‘walking meetings’. Whenever possible, try and emulate this. Organise face-to-face meetings at the local park and take a slow wander while you talk. The fresh air and change of scenery will re-energise you. If you’re on a long call at your desk, why not stick the headset on and do a few laps of the office?
8. Change your workspace
Sitting eight-plus hours in the same spot is tough on the body and mind. Try mixing up your workspace to change your mindset and re-engage your focus. Anything from tidying up your desk clutter to swapping the office chair for a gym ball can help. We’re a big fan of the ‘stand-up’ desks here at Smile IT, which allow you to choose whether you want to sit or stand while you work. That could be a big part of being able to stay healthy at a desk job.
9. Exercise in your lunch break
Finding time to squeeze that gym session is tough when you work a full-time job. Fitting in a weights or cardio session in your lunch break may seem impossible, but by keeping the workout short and intense you should get away with it. An alternative is to wake up an hour earlier for your workout. We recommend not leaving it until after work, the lure of Netflix and pizza is too strong!
10. Give your eyes a rest
Staring at that screen all day places a lot of strain on your eyes, causing headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and a litany of other complaints that fall under CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome). Don’t sit too close to the screen, adjust your screen lighting according to the ambient light around you, and blink often to moisturise your eyes.
When he’s not writing tech articles or turning IT startups into established and consistent managed service providers, Peter Drummond can be found kitesurfing on the Gold Coast or hanging out with his family!