Working in an office — whether it’s at home or somewhere else — is one of the curses that comes with increased pay and job satisfaction. While the office allows us to accomplish everything work-related, it can sometimes offer little to satisfy personal needs. But there are ways you can modify your office environment and behavior to take better care of your health. Here are five ways the office is sabotaging your health, along with five simple fixes.
1. It impacts your heart
Sitting down for extended periods of time has a significant impact on your heart health. Sedentary lifestyles have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease in men. So, what can you do to take care of yourself while taking care of business?
Fix: Some offices that are hip to the benefits of standing and moving have transitioned to standing desks with elevated work stations. You can ask your company if it will install one for your office, or you can rise to your feet every 20 to 30 minutes. Sitting for too long can causes muscles to burn less fat and blood to flow more slowly. Take a 10-minute break to do squats or a quick jog every two hours to keep your blood pumping and reduce the stress on your heart.
2. It puts stress on your skeletal system
Humans are clearly not meant to sit around all day, and the activity affects more than just your heart. The aches and pains you experience at the end of a workday are due to your skeletal structure bearing more weight than your muscles.
Fix: Simply engaging your abdominal muscles while you are seated and making a few minor posture tweaks will take the stress from your achy joints and bones. Keeping your neck straight and shoulders back will automatically engage your abdomen to support your weight, and tucking your elbows in to your sides encourages the same. Exercise balls also offer a way to engage your muscle system in a seated position, and now they come in styles suited for the office. Try one out at home and see the difference.
3. It can cause you to forget to breathe
People forget how important breathing is because it’s an autonomic function; you don’t have to think about it. But the more you think about breathing, the greater quality of your breaths. A frenetic work pace can have even the most mindful among us panting like dogs, but quick reminders each hour can bring you back to your breath.
Fix: Stressed and shallow breathing leads to an accumulation of carbon dioxide, which acidifies the blood. A more acidic pH will reduce respiration (how your body creates energy) and reduce immunity. So set two alarms each hour on your phone or computer reminding yourself to breath. Better yet, put up a sign on by your computer that says. “Breathe.” With deeper breathing comes increased blood oxygen, energy, focus, and immunity.
4. It affects how you eat
Constant activity at the office doesn’t leave much time for you to breathe let alone eat. Office life promotes “wolfing down” food just to satisfy your stomach, but studies have proven that the manner in which you eat is just as important as what you eat.
Fix: Chew anything you eat 40 times before swallowing. This takes concentration, so break away from your computer when you’re eating. The better you chew your food, the more energy you will get from it and the less you’ll have to eat overall. Taking time to eat also reduces stress, so do yourself a favor and slow down at work. You may find that planning five minutes in your schedule for snacks reduces stress and increases energy.
5. It affects what you eat
Your work pace at the office can have a significant impact on what you eat. The typical office treats loaded with sugar and trans fats will not only cause an energy crash, but will raise the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood. But if you can’t imagine munching on carrots and kale all day, what can you do?
Fix: Vitamixes have been the greatest blessing to health since vegetables were invented. While it’s not practical or even realistic to munch on rabbit food all day, you can easily make a blend before you go to work and sip on it throughout the day. (If you need a mini fridge at your work space, you can buy one on amazon for under $75.)
Get in the habit of making superfood smoothies to take to work. Try mixing spinach, berries, almond milk, bananas, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chocolate protein powder together before dashing off to work. You’ll be rewarded with a delicious snack that provides you with trace vitamins and minerals that contribute to energy production and longevity.