Episode 239 – 5 Strategies To Be Healthier At Work

Written by Jonathan

If you’re like most people you probably want to be a little bit more active everyday, you probably want to exercise a little bit more and you probably want to make some healthier decisions. The problem when most people decide to make a change or shift something up in their lives is they immediately look at going on a diet, starting an exercise program or signing up for some sort of activity, race or something like that, which don’t get me wrong is great. But even the most active people that exercise consistently only exercise 5 to 10 hours a week and these are the most active and even the most diligent and careful people when it comes to food preparation will only spend 7 to 14 hours a week on food shopping, preparation and eating and these are the most diligent people when it comes to eating. Now don’t get me wrong these are all good focuses to have and I would never tell anyone to eat less healthy and outside of extreme or ultra elite athletes I would never tell anyone they should or need to exercise less, however if you’re a relatively regular person that wants to be just a bit healthier and a little bit more active it might make more sense to focus your time on making the existing parts of your life more healthy, like work for example. The average person probably spends somewhere between 35 and 60 hours a week working, which is a tonne of time, most people probably spend more time at work than anywhere else. What if we put traditional exercise on hold and instead of going on a diet we just continued to more or less eat the same and instead focused on how you could make your workspace healthier. Today we’re going to look at 5 simple things you can do in your workspace to be just a little bit healthier.

1. Get a 1 litre water bottle, drink it in the morning then refill it at lunch and drink it again in the afternoon. I work with a client who was really struggling drinking enough water everyday and I’m pretty sure she would sometimes not drink anything for days at a time. We talked through this and I made the suggestion she get a water bottle and keep it with her all the time and every time her work would get interrupted she would take a sip and then get back to it. Every Time someone came to her office to talk, she would take a sip, everytime the phone rang, sip, when she had to get up to go the bathroom sip, now did she go to drinking a full 2 litres at work everyday, no, but she ended up and still does drink about a litre of water through her workday, which I would call a small win and why this is a good strategy to help you drink more water.

2. Get a sit stand station, and actually use. There is plenty of research touting the health risks of sitting all day, as it turns out it’s the new smoking, but standing all day isn’t the best idea either because it can lead to other musculoskeletal issues, so my recommendation would be to set your alarm to go off every 30 minutes or so and switch back and forth between sitting and standing, this constant reminder will keep you up and moving and the change of pace will probably make you more productive as well. I call that win, win. If you have the budget for it, you can buy sit to stand stations that automatically go up and down on their own timer, so you don’t even have to manually do it or think about.

3. Set your alarm to do periodic posture breaks, that include mini exercises and stretches. Now I know you’re probably shaking your head from side to side saying of course, that’s what every workplace health and safety meeting or manual tells us to do, but I want you right now to whip out your phone and set your alarm on vibrate to go off once in the morning and once in the afternoon, all you have to do are some arm circles and shoulder blade squeezes and it will be enough for you to reset and refresh. One of my clients wouldn’t follow an exercise program on his own for a very long time and once a week with me wasn’t cutting it so I asked him if he could set his alarm and do a posture exercise one time a day and after two weeks of doing this exercise his shoulder pain went away and he gained a lot of mobility back in that shoulder. The exercise only took a minute and he did it once a day, that’s it, and it made a huge difference for him.

4. Start a salad club, where one or two people once a week in your office bring a salad, any kind of salad they want and everyone has it for lunch. This does a few things, it helps everyone eat slightly healthier than they probably are, it helps to build morale because you get to eat together, share recipes and talk about the salads and it creates community in the office around everyone helping each other get a little bit healthier. Once you have a tribe or community around these things then change gets a lot less scary. Also this wasn’t on my radar as a potential change, one of my clients just started doing it with her colleagues at work and she told me about all these benefits that it brought with it. I didn’t find out she was doing it until about 6 months after they had already started. I think that’s a win,win, win.

5. Take the stairs at work, always take the stairs. This is my least sexy and most unappealing strategy, but hear me out for a minute. If you struggle finding time to exercise or lack the motivation, then this is an easy thing to start doing. Almost every building has a stairs or elevator option, all you have to do is become the person who takes the stairs, taking the stairs all the time means you take on the identity of someone who takes the stairs, it’s a low hanging fruit goal that almost anyone can do, you just have to decide for yourself and make the commitment to making it happen, so the next time you walk into the office instead of saying, ‘Hey Johnson hold the elevator for me!’ you can say ‘Hey, Johnson don’t worry about it today I’m taking the stairs!’ and just see how good you’ll start to feel and hey you never know, maybe Johnson will join you for the climb.

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