Sitting at a Desk All Day?: How to Stay Healthy at a Sedentary Job

posted by Chris Valentine

If you have a sedentary job, you’ll typically spend an average of 82.4 percent of the workday sitting at your desks. This means you’re not walking around, moving, or even stretching. And that can take a huge toll on your health.

Your body needs to move. And sitting at a desk for 7.5 hours a day just doesn’t seem right.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get more active even if you have a desk job. Check out these simple tips.

Take Active Breaks

When you work a sedentary job, it’s easy to forget to take breaks. After all, you’re sitting and you don’t always feel physically tired during the day.

But sitting still for a full eight hours is one of the worst things you can do. Your body needs to move around and stretch.

Commit to taking active breaks at least twice a day. Walk around the office, head up and down the stairs a few times, or just take a stroll outside.

If you don’t have time for proper breaks, stand up and stretch or walk in place for a few minutes every few hours. This will keep you from getting stiff and helps you burn more calories even if you go back to sitting afterward.

And if possible, try to stand at your desk when you’re not actively using the computer or desk surface. Phone calls are the perfect time to get up and move around while still being productive.

Watch What You Eat (and Drink)

It’s common practice for businesses to supply snacks and sugary beverages in the break room. But before you reach for the first thing you find, take a moment to think about it.

Is that snack a sugar-packed fat bomb? Then it might be worth avoiding it. If you need a snack, stick to things like fresh fruit, yogurt, or vegetables.

Nutrient-dense foods will give you more energy and satisfy your hunger better than any sugary treat will.

You’ll also want to be mindful of what you drink throughout the day. Drinking coffee (especially with cream and sugar) throughout the day isn’t the healthiest option.

Coffee can dehydrate you and the caffeine content can disrupt your sleep habits. Instead, try to drink water or fix yourself a cup of decaf or herbal tea.

You’ll still be able to enjoy a warm beverage, but you won’t have to worry about that final cup of the day keeping you from sleeping well.

Take Extra Steps

When you work a sedentary job, getting active can be tough. But it’s not impossible. In fact, the solutions are staring you in the face.

Park your car as far away from the building as you’re comfortable. The farther away you park, the more steps you’ll get in before you settle into a long day of work. Every extra step counts and the more you do it, the better off you’ll be.

And once you reach the building, skip the elevator and take the stairs if you’re not working on the first floor. The flight or two of stairs will help you get your heart pumping and helps your muscles loosen up.

Throughout the day or whenever you leave your desk, try not to go straight back to it. Walk around the perimeter of your work area before taking a seat. Take the long way back from the bathroom or breakroom.

Over the course of the day, these extra steps will really add up.

Commit to Exercising Before or After Work

Staying more active throughout the day is great. But it’s not enough to get your heart pumping and improve your cardiovascular health. You’ll still need to get a workout in.

Try to commit to exercising before or after work at least three days a week. This doesn’t have to be incredibly strenuous—even going for a long walk around the block is a good place to start.

If you’re not comfortable going to the gym alone, see if any of your coworkers want to work out with you. Getting others involved can make working out feel more fun and helps you stay accountable.

Bring Lunch From Home

Believe it or not, eating out every day hurts more than just your wallet—it hurts your health.

Restaurant food has tons of sodium, fat, oil, and (in the case of fast food) additives. And that means it’s hard to watch your calorie intake if you’re eating at restaurants every day.

The best thing you can do is to bring your lunch from home.

Leftovers from dinner are a great place to start. And they’re fast to pack up and have ready for the next day.

But if you have the added time, make your lunch the night before. Even if it’s something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you’ll still be better off. You have complete control over what type of ingredients you buy!

Think About Ergonomics

There’s more to your health than making sure you’re fit. You need to pay attention to your posture. Otherwise, you’ll end up with muscle strain day after day.

Start thinking about the ergonomics at your workstation. Do you have an adjustable desk chair? Are you slouching over a keyboard for hours at a time?

You’ll want to correct those issues as soon as possible. The longer those behaviors last, the achier you’ll get at the end of the day.

Remember, your ergonomic upgrades don’t have to be huge. Invest in a better chair or at least a lumbar cushion to help support your back. And if you can, get an adjustable desk.

Changing your position from sitting to standing throughout the day helps keep your muscles loose and reduces fatigue. They’re perfect for work environments when getting up and moving doesn’t happen as often as it should.

Staying Healthy with a Sedentary Job Is Doable

Staying healthy when you have a sedentary job takes effort. But it’s completely doable. Use these tips to help you get started.

And remember, changing even a single habit can be enough to help you improve your health. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. Take your time, ease into better habits and practices. You’ll eventually see the benefits.

For more tips to help you get healthy and improve your lifestyle, check out our latest posts.

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