As we say goodbye to Men’s Health Month, let’s take some time to reflect on how active we were (or weren’t) in June. Staying active is incredibly important to me and my team, but as a busy CEO, sometimes fitting fitness into the schedule can be a tricky proposition. For me — and probably many others in all levels of employment — maintaining a healthy lifestyle has to begin at work.
If you’re anything like the majority of Americans, it’s more likely that you spent much of June in an office, stuck at a desk. What you might not realize, however, is that a sedentary work lifestyle can wreak havoc on your overall health. One study by the Mayo Clinic, for example, found a link between sitting all day and an increased risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
You might think you can take a weekend-warrior approach to health and fitness, getting active only once you’re free from the 9-to-5 grind. But this method of compartmentalizing work and fitness into separate time slots causes you to overlook small opportunities during the week for movement and activity.
Get on Your Feet
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in employers encouraging employees to adopt healthy lifestyles. Whether that’s through on-site healthful meal options, gym and fitness classes, or walking clubs, they try to facilitate activity and encourage wellness. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and ultimately, you’re in charge of your own health.
Luckily, staying active throughout the day doesn’t have to involve a 10-mile run. In fact, a few daily adjustments can make a world of difference:
1. Show your spine some love. Whenever you remember, take a moment to think about the shape of your spine. If you find yourself hunched over your desk, whether it’s standing or sitting, take a moment to straighten up, realign your head over your pelvis, and turn your feet so they’re pointing forward.
2. Schedule some walk-and-talk meetings. Instead of sitting down with your co-worker for your next brainstorming session, skip the conference room and go for a walk. A trip to the watercooler and back gets both you and your brain moving, ultimately sparking better ideas and collaboration. At VARIDESK, we even have in-house treadmills to give employees the chance to get their steps in without ever leaving the building.
3. Boost your hydration. Even mild levels of dehydration can bring your workday to a screeching halt. Food cravings, sluggish thinking, and headaches can all get in the way of productivity. And in the summer months, these symptoms can get even more severe. Make sure there’s a reusable bottle within arm’s reach, and try to drain it at least twice each day to keep you performing at your best.
4. Choose fresh food. From sugary donuts to greasy pizza, guilty pleasures seem to fill offices, but don’t let the temptation draw you in. Ditch overprocessed food in favor of fresh fruits and veggies to get a longer-lasting energy boost. Besides, bringing a healthful lunch from home is often easier on your wallet than eating out every day or making regular trips to the vending machine.
5. Set timers throughout the day. Sitting all day isn’t healthy, so consider the benefits of a standing desk at your workstation. But standing still all day isn’t ideal, either, so set recurring reminders to move around, do some stretches, or take a quick lap around the office. Taking regular breaks can also increase your productivity because it’s like hitting refresh on your mind.
6. Go visit a co-worker. Instant messaging apps or email are convenient for out-of-state clients or remote co-workers, but they aren’t always the preferred method of communication when you’re in the same space. Instead of sending your teammate a note electronically, force yourself to walk to his or her desk and talk in person. This will allow you to get some steps in, and in the end, a face-to-face conversation will likely be more useful.
7. Move as a community. Take the lead when it comes to company-sponsored fitness challenges and activities — from yoga to boot camp classes to just a group stroll around the block. And if your office doesn’t sponsor any activities, feel free to schedule your own events and encourage co-workers to get active alongside you.
While a company culture that encourages activity certainly helps, the power to craft an active workspace for yourself ultimately comes from within. By looking for opportunities to get moving daily, you can drop the weekend-warrior persona and create an everyday approach to a healthier life.