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Top 10 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work

healthyatwork image

Small, meaningful lifestyle changes can avert chronic conditions

By Natalie Davis, CPT


Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back to the business of life. Start by making small and meaningful changes in your lifestyle that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Americans work more than citizens in any other industrialized country in the world. However, we take fewer vacations, retire older, and work longer days. These factors can affect one’s health and lead to such chronic conditions as high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, and obesity. The average American works 35 to 45 hours a week, and in cities with large populations, it can be as high as 50 hours.

You need to decide that fitness and wellness are important to you and then take measured steps toward your objectives. Don’t overextend yourself and exercise like never before to achieve your fitness and wellness goals. This year, try to do something different.

1. Plan your meals and monitor portions.
Eighty percent of losing weight depends on your diet. The science is simple: “Calories in, calories out.” The objective is to burn more calories than you consume. Try to plan your lunches and dinners so that you don’t overeat. Even if you have a client meeting at a restaurant, look up their menu in advance, or ask the waiter to “put the sauce on the side,” or have your entrée grilled instead of fried.

Portion control is also important because without it, you are more likely to overeat. Having visual cues on how much a serving of veggies or rice looks like can help you make better decisions. For example, one cup of rice or pasta is the size of a tennis ball.

2. Stretch to lengthen your muscles.
Sitting at a desk for more than two hours at a time causes the muscles, ligaments, and tendons to become shorter. Do simple stretches at your desk to help elongate the muscles and decrease pain (especially back pain). Tight hamstrings can be a precursor to low back pain, and tight shoulders can lead to neck pain or migraines. Picking up a yoga for weightloss dvd can be a cheap way to learn how best to stretch your body and keep fit.

3. Organize a boot camp/fitness class.
Grab a group of buddies and organize a fitness class. With camaraderie and moral support, you can achieve weight loss together. Select a certain date, time, and location to meet and work out for an hour.

4. Take the stairs or go for a walk.
If you’re not experiencing any hip, knee, or ankle pain, then taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to improve cardiovascular endurance and build up the strength in your legs. Taking walks throughout the day is also a great idea, and there’s less impact on the knees.

5. Set up your workstation to improve your posture.
Setting up an ergonomic workspace can help prevent back and neck pain, tight muscles, and poor posture. Modifying the sitting posture in an office chair can work wonders for your muscles and joints. Utilize the lumbar support in your chair and position the computer at eye level so that you’re looking straight ahead.

6. Exercise in your office.
If possible, try doing some circuit training in your office for 30 minutes a day. It can improve your fitness level tremendously. Here is a sample circuit that includes planks, jumping jacks, push-ups, and squats. It should take less than 30 minutes to complete and uses neither weights nor machines:

  • plank hold (1 minute): Lie face down on the floor. Position your elbows are under your shoulders. Support yourself on your forearms and toes/knees, maintaining a straight line and keeping your core tight.
  • jumping  jacks (1 minute)
  • 15 push-ups (on or off your knees)
  • 15 to 20 squats: Pretend that you are sitting back in a chair and then stand up, keeping your core tight and your knees in line with your toes.
  • Rest for 1 minute and then repeat three more times.

7. Hire a trainer.
If you’re new to exercise and you don’t want to hurt yourself or you’re pressed for time, then you would benefit from a trainer. Find an experienced trainer who can travel to your job and kick your butt for an hour. This is a great way to get in shape fast with fewer injuries! The trainer should monitor your diet, correct your form, and provide you with homework that you can do on your “off days” to speed up the process.

8. Avoid temptations, such as holiday cookies and non-nutritious snacks.
Encourage co-workers to bring healthy snacks or organize a healthy happy hour. This leads back to meal planning and having a backup snack, like fruit, in case you have a sweet tooth during the middle of your day.

9. Park your car farther away from your destination or bike/walk to work.
These are simple ways to fit in some exercise to improve your cardiovascular endurance and decrease obesity. You can also take advantage of the Capital Bikeshare program in District of Columbia, as well as in Arlington and Alexandria, VA (www.capitalbikeshare.com).

10. Start a weight-loss competition in the spirit of The Biggest Loser.
It’s simple biology that humans are competitive beings. Just think of sports, politics, and jobs: We love to win! Getting everyone’s competitive juices flowing is a sure way to weight-loss success. Having a cash prize or tickets to an important event will motivate even the laziest person to try to lose weight, while having fun doing it.

Natalie Davis is a local certified personal trainer (CPT) and Co-Owner/Founder of Embody Pure Fitness, an in-home personal training company. She holds certifications with the National Association of Sports Medicine and is a Certified TRX Suspension Specialist and Crossfit Kettlebell Instructor. She also trains at FIT Personal Training Gymnasium.


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