Once upon a time, people got up every day and worked in the field, churned butter, and built structures with their bare hands. Going to work meant being on your feet and moving from sun up to sun down. Of course, many jobs today still require people to be on their feet, but thanks to the industrial revolution and technological innovations, much of the physical labor of yesterday has become automated.
For people who work at a computer all day, staying healthy should be top of mind. A sedentary lifestyle can result in serious health problems. In fact, studies show that physical inactivity can cause cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, and is the 4th leading risk factor for death worldwide.
- Exercise (on your terms). If you’re already an active member at your local gym, great! If you’re technically a member but there is a layer of dust on your gym bag, maybe it’s time to think about getting back on the wagon. Or perhaps, you haven’t been going because a traditional fitness center just doesn’t fit in with your busy lifestyle. If it’s the latter, consider taking advantage of one of the many ways to stay fit virtually. Programs like DailyBurn and FitStar give you the flexibility to workout anywhere, with little to no equipment needed. And programs can be customized to your preferences and fitness level — kind of like having a personal trainer, but cheaper and more convenient.
If staying motivated is an issue for you, consider joining (or starting) a fitness group in your work community. Even remote workers can keep one another motivated using social tools, like Google Hangouts or Salesforce Chatter.
- Wear a wearable. Fitness trackers like Fitbit and the Apple Watch are modern versions of the string tied around your finger to remind you to do something. Just wearing a tracker every day can be a great reminder to get up and move throughout the work day. Having a tangible daily goal to meet — like 10,000 steps — can also be an excellent motivator. This works especially well when you add in the social element and compete against friends, or perhaps those coworkers from your fitness group.
Companies can also benefit when workers are more physically active. Employees who get more exercise tend to be happier and more productive. In 2013, Appirio started an employee program called “CloudFit,”and gave out Fitbit trackers to 400 employees. By tracking employees’ physical activity, Appirio got their health insurance carrier to agree to lower their rates by 5%, saving the company $280,000.
- Keep your germs to yourself. The only technology you need to follow this tip is a faucet and some running water. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available) after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose to prevent the spread of germs at work. You should also avoid using your coworkers’ equipment — like phones and laptops — if possible, and be sure to sanitize them before and after if you do need to use them.
- You are what you eat. Those birthday celebrations and work potlucks can be tough when trying to eat healthy, but bringing your own lunch and snacks from home can help. And if you can find the time to cook healthy dinners at home, leftovers can be a great option for lunch throughout the week. Online food delivery services like Instacart and Peapod can save you time by delivering groceries to your door. You can even take it a step further by paying for a plan with a site like Blue Apron that sends you portioned-out ingredients with included recipes — reducing the time you would normally spend planning and prepping meals.
- Gimme a break. It seems like a no-brainer, but remembering to take breaks throughout the workday is crucial to both physical and mental health. And according to a recent study by Baylor University, the way you take breaks is equally important. The study finds that breaks are most effective when employees spend them doing activities they enjoy, like stepping outside for some fresh air, or chatting with a coworker about the latest episode of the Walking Dead. (Maybe that’s just me?) These “better breaks” can help prevent headaches, eye strain, exhaustion, and increase job satisfaction.
Too busy to leave your desk? Take short breaks every hour or so. Here’s a great 5-minute desk workout video from Fitness