It doesn’t matter if you’re fully remote, working in-office, or on a hybrid model. It’s easy to fall into unhealthy workplace behaviors. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to be more aware of things like hygiene and social distancing, it perversely made many of us less healthy. Fitness centers closed. So did yoga and pilates studios. Left alone at home, we retreated to binge watching Netflix and enjoying high-calorie take-out when we weren’t emailing the boss at midnight.
Worse, many of us were struggling before the pandemic. CareerBuilder conducted a survey a few years back that reported one out of four workers claimed they had gained more than 10 pounds at their current job while more than half considered themselves overweight. So in honor of National Men’s Health Month in June, here are four tips to stay healthy at work.
1. Watch What You Drink
Coffee got a bad rap for a while. Turns out it doesn’t just improve focus and alertness –– something caffeine consumers already knew. It also can help you burn fat and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. The key is moderation. Too much can make you jittery and even make it harder to focus. Plus, if you consume 40 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, half of it will still be in your system five hours later. Eight ounces of brewed coffee has over twice that amount. Which means your late afternoon cup of joe is likely affecting your sleep. You may still fall asleep but you’ll likely not sleep as deeply as you need to.
Soda –– even diet –– isn’t good for you. Instead, opt for a cool glass of water. Many of us are dehydrated and don’t even know it. If you are only visiting the little boys’ room a couple of times a day, it’s not a good thing. If you feel tired, dizzy, or lightheaded it’s also a sign you’re dehydrated. As you can probably imagine, this won’t help your productivity. So, keep a sippy cup of H2O on your desk and refill it often.
2. Watch What You Eat
Although working from home brings with it a slew of temptations, only in offices do people actually carry cookies and cupcakes over to coworkers. It can be tough to say no but just as the party invites stop coming after a few refusals, letting well-meaning colleagues know you’re not eating cake will keep them from offering it. Instead, keep your desk stocked with almonds and apple slices in the fridge.
Instead of eating fast food for lunch, brown bag your own. One study suggested that eating home cooked meals on the daily will not only make you 28% less likely to be overweight but 24% less likely to have extra body fat. Make a tasty salad the night before or several meals on Sunday. Making a home cooked meal isn’t just one of my tips to stay healthy at work but you’ll likely save money as well. As Adam Drewnowski, director of the UW’s Center for Public Health Nutrition explains, “By cooking more often at home, you have a better diet at no significant cost increase, while if you go out more, you have a less healthy diet at a higher cost.”
3. Get Your Move On
Yes, sitting is the new smoking. Study after study shows that prolonged sitting can lead to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist. Human beings didn’t evolve to spend ten hours a day confined within poorly ventilated buildings while sitting hunched over and staring at a computer. Once you’ve been sitting for an hour, spend at least a few minutes walking around the office. Every couple of hours, try to head outside for some fresh air and light stretching. Walk down a few flights of stairs. Stretch. Practice eye relaxation exercises and learn how to improve your posture.
If your company has a fitness center, use it. Often facilities in office buildings are less crowded than public gyms –– especially in the early afternoon or evening (they tend to get the bulk of their business in the morning). So you can avoid the stress-inducing rush-hour commute and get in a workout. That’s a win-win.
If your company has a corporate wellness plan, you’ll likely benefit. If they offer free fitness trackers, pick one up. Many people report they started exercising more once they got a tracker.
4. Erect Some Fences
Unless you’re an on-call doctor, you don’t need to check your phone late at night for communications from work. Boundaries can be healthy. Schedule “me time” and stick to it. Don’t work several long days in a row –– your body needs to recuperate.
In the U.S. and across the world, men die at a younger age and suffer more illnesses than women. Men were often raised to believe that hard work should be endured and you can power through your problems. Unfortunately, having a work until you drop mentality just about guarantees you’ll “drop” far earlier than you would have otherwise. Yes, you might be able to sleep when you’re dead but how do you know?
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