The advent of science and technology, especially computers and gadgets, has helped us mechanize several mundane activities. Apart from making our lives easier, these advancements have also led to a decrease in the amount of physical activities we undertake.
Instead of stepping out of our houses to get groceries, food, clothes and even furniture, we prefer to have them delivered to us. The current generation is gradually adopting a sedentary lifestyle, which in the long-term, can cause several health issues.
The lifestyle of modern working professionals entails extensive use of computers and laptops at the workstation. Long hours at work can ruin their physical fitness, as it restricts them to their office cubicle for long hours.
Organizations have realized that prolonged inactivity can be extremely harmful for their employees and, hence, they promote healthy habits among their staff. Even the employee policies at leading corporate houses encourage health and wellness. This is because a healthy workforce will enhance the productivity of a business.
The following tips can help you lead a healthy lifestyle even when you're at work:
Not all chairs are ergonomically designed and your office chair probably isn’t, either. An incorrect sitting posture can have negative effects on your health and also lead to a permanent slouch.
Maintaining good posture when working on the computer/laptop can help you avoid several pains, including backache. Whether at the office or at home, make a conscious effort to sit straight with a firm back support. Learn the correct positions that need to be maintained for hands, wrists and feet when working on a computer.
Slouching can cause chronic pain in the neck, the shoulders and the back. You may not even realize that your posture is wrong. Check if the height of your chair is lower than the desk, and adjust the computer screen if you have to strain your neck to look at it.
Here is a checklist that can be used to maintain good posture:
You may want to be the most productive employee of the company, but that does not mean that you should stay put at your workstation throughout the day. This will only hamper your productivity in terms of quality and efficiency. Taking frequent short breaks, on the other hand, will help you clear your mind. Doing so can even help you get back to your work with more enthusiasm.
You can set a timer to remind yourself to get off your office chair at regular intervals. Step away from your workstation for a couple of minutes and get some fresh air. You can use this time to make important calls. Walk around the lobby or in the cafeteria as you talk on the phone.
Participating in office events can be another good way to take a break. You can choose to be active or remain standing for the entire duration. This will help you straighten your back and stretch your legs. Alternatively, walk over to your colleagues’ desk instead of using instant messaging platforms to communicate with them.
Sipping water frequently is a healthy habit that you can easily follow at office. Take a few sips of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Ideally, adults should consume at least 2-3 liters of water every day.
If you are not in the habit of drinking water frequently, try to find a partner at work who can remind you to do so once in a while. Keep a bottle of water and a small glass at your desk. Try to drink a glass of water once every 45 to 60 minutes.
Combine this activity with deep breathing to add to the health benefits. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your body, especially the brain, is not deficient in oxygen supply. When you are engrossed in work, there can be unnoticeable changes in breathing patterns. This can lead to low oxygen supply to your brain. In fact, short-breathing can reduce blood supply to the brain by 20-30%.
Hours of sitting in one position can tighten the body muscles. A constant state of perpetual contraction or extension of limbs and limited physical movement can affect different lower back muscles. This is quite common when sitting in front of a computer, and can gravely harm muscles like the hamstrings, glutes and quads over time.
Long hours of sitting also affect your core muscles — pelvis, lower back, hips and abdominal area — causing weaker muscles and loose stomach muscles. It can also result in lower back pain, slouching and a widened pelvic floor, even among people who exercise regularly.
One needs to keep the body moving frequently to avoid stiffness of the muscles and a weakened body structure. Every few hours, make it a point to get off your seat, stand straight and stretch your lower body and limbs. If your workspace allows you to do some quick exercises, then don’t let the opportunity pass. Five to seven counts of quad muscles, hamstring and glute stretches in a day can keep you fit and ensure proper blood circulation in the body. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds, and you’ll be good to go.
Following a healthy diet is of utmost importance. Most of us maintain a daily planner to manage our day’s activities. Similarly, you can keep a food journal to record the foods you should and actually consume in a day.
Consuming fried, greasy, fattening, sugar-heavy food and drinks can make you feel bloated, stuffed and lethargic. Jotting down these items in your journal will make it easier for you to keep tabs on your food intake and motivate you to eat healthy.
Along with maintaining a food journal, identify the healthy foods that can help you stay fit and active during the day. Gradually, you will be able to switch from junk food to healthy munchies.
Stress is common among most professionals. You can keep stress at bay by having a cheerful setup at work. Decorate your workstation with objects that make you happy, such as photographs of your loved ones. Keeping a plant at the workstation can also improve indoor-air quality and control your heart rate, thereby reducing stress.
These steps can boost positivity and make you feel more at ease in your office space. The more relaxed you feel at work, the more levelheaded you will be in making work-related decisions and the less stressed you will feel when taking up new tasks.
Working overtime regularly can severely hamper your work-life balance and affect your physical and mental health. Time management skills can help you and your colleagues avoid having to stay late or working over the weekends. It is important to manage your hours well to get your work done and leave the office on time.
Professional life should be balanced with healthy habits and exercise. If managed properly, you can incorporate these habits into your work schedule.
Pratik Dholakiya is a fitness enthusiast and a half marathoner having completed 3 half marathons since he began running. He's also a passionate marketer and co-founder of 4 technology/marketing agencies. Pratik is a firm believer in the mantra — you have to believe in yourself when no one else does — be it fitness or business. Follow him on Twitter for a quick chat on either of these.