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How can I stay healthy at work?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
You spend a lot of your life at work, so it’s important to practice healthy habits while you’re there. Here are some suggestions.
  • Sitting is bad! Studies keep showing the damage that sitting for long stretches of the day does to your health. So take breaks to move around. Every two hours, stand up and walk around for five minutes. At lunch, take a little longer walk—10 to 20 minutes—if you can.
  • Hydrate. We load up on coffee and beverages, especially if they’re provided by work. But don’t forget WATER! If you want something more interesting, put fruit pieces in the water, or try a carbonated water.  Aim to drink 60-80 ounces per day.  Plus, the trips to the bathroom are a great way to get yourself out of your chair!
  • Watch your snacks. Lots of high-calorie, high-fat and high-sodium snacks find their way to the office. Bring your own if possible.
  • Ergonomics. Pay attention to your chair, your keyboard and your computer screen. Make sure that when you are sitting upright and comfortably, everything aligns, your posture is good, your neck is not bent, etc. Similarly, don’t cradle your phone between neck and shoulder. Use a headset instead.
  • Avoid eye strain. Every two hours (when you take your walking break) give your eyes a rest by looking up and away from the computer screen.
  • Wash your hands! Desks and keyboards are alarmingly germy. Use a paper towel on door handles. Use hand sanitizer. And clean your own work surfaces often. Use Lysol or Clorox wipes on your desk, phone, keyboard and mouse. 
Here are easy ways to incorporate healthy eating and physical activity at work:
  • Pack a healthy lunch that includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Also, tonight's leftovers can be a great lunch tomorrow.
  • Bring healthy snacks to curb your appetite throughout the day: Low-fat microwave popcorn, cut up fruit and vegetables, a piece of whole-grain bread and low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
  • Bike or walk to work. If this is not an option, get off the train or bus a few stops early or park your car at the far end of the parking lot.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Especially if you are on a higher floor, this is a great way to get your heart going in the morning.
  • Organize a lunch-time walk with your co-workers. Most lunch hours leave enough time to eat and take a 30-minute walk outdoors. It will also provide a nice, relaxing break.
A healthy eating plan and regular physical activity are instrumental for increased energy and productivity. Make sure you are doing your part.
Katie Davis
Nutrition & Dietetics
In addition to the answers provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (all great ideas!), you need to have a plan for work boredom. It is normally during times of boredom that we visit the candy jar, vending machine, or office kitchen. This is okay if you are actually hungry, but often we are not. Have a plan in place for what YOU will do. Why not use that time to take a walk to the furthest drinking fountain in your building (or maybe the building next door!) and then walk back? Or just try to walk at least 10 minutes at a brisk pace, grab some water and continue with your work. If you still find yourself thinking about food when you know you are not hungry, try chewing gum. That may satisfy your oral sensation while not adding unnecessary calories to your daily  intake.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.