A growing national concern: job-related weight gain. Not to mention cubicle-induced achiness, lethargy and dehydration. But you don’t need to quit your office job to stay healthy. Workplace wellness is gaining momentum, and there’s plenty you can do to reverse your cubicle woes.
Here are 8 ways to power through your workday and greet the evening with energy to spare:
1. Unplug the Coffee Pot
Coffee is a logical office prop—it helps us face the morning, and gives us an excuse to take a midday break. But let’s be honest: it stops perking us up after a few cups. Yet it never seems to stop causing muscle tension, anxiety or irritability. After you’ve had one cup, switch to green tea (and reap its fat-blasting benefits) or lean on natural energy boosters. I speak from experience: once you curb caffeine, you may never need a massage again.
2. Put Your Glutes to Work
There’s a theory that sitting for hours will cause your bum to flatten and hips to spread. Not sure if this has been scientifically proven, but most of us with desk jobs would probably testify to its truth! Use focused glute exercises to keep your backside in shape. Another perk of having strong glutes: because they’re part of your “core,” they’ll give you better posture at your desk.
3. Pack Your (Lunch) Bags
It’s no secret that eating breakfast will help you lose weight, but make sure it’s a healthy breakfast! To energize your day, steer clear of the fast food drive-thru on your way to work. It takes just a few minutes to pack a cooler with fresh breakfast, lunch and snacks. If you do go out for lunch with the gang, follow Core Performance’s “7 Rules for Eating Clean When You Eat Out.”
4. Stay Sane Through the Night Shift
It’s hard to follow a fitness regimen when you work an atypical schedule. But there’s hope for swing shift and night shift workers: try our tips for getting healthy midnight meals and regular exercise—plus plenty of sleep!
5. Fire Your Office Chair
Ever realize you’ve been hunched at your desk for hours, neck craned forward as you peer into your computer? Do you spend an entire commute slumped over the steering wheel with one elbow cocked up on the arm rest? Add a heavy bag or briefcase to the mix and you have a recipe for postural disaster.
When you get tired of looking like the office vulture, get to work on strengthening your core. Strong core muscles (back, abdominals, glutes) keep you upright effortlessly and let you carry heavy loads with balance. And the great thing is you can work your core at work: just trade your office chair for a balance ball.
Not keen on rolling a ball into work? Keep one in your home office or in front of the TV. “Sitting on an exercise ball, your body is constantly making small adjustments with the postural muscles, abdominals, gluteals and leg muscles,” explains Wendy Bumgardner. “It is ‘active sitting’ rather than the slumping and poor posture we develop even in ergonomic desk chairs.” Get the right sized balance ball here.
6. Keep a Water Bottle at Your Desk
Drinking water keeps you mentally alert and physically agile; it also makes you less likely to sip too much coffee or reach for those snacks squirreled away in your desk. Heading to the water cooler once an hour is a great excuse to move your legs (see #8). If you don’t have an office water cooler, bring a jug of your own.
7. Stay Fit on Business Trips
Don’t forsake fitness when you’re traveling! It’s tough to focus on exercise when you’ve got a packed agenda in a foreign city. But there are plenty of things you can do to stay active, from easy workouts in your hotel room (pack your resistance bands) to renting a bike or simply walking instead of taking a cab. Make sure to read Fit Bottomed Girls’ list of fitness items to pack.
Even better, cover your cardio and resistance training right at the airport! The gutsy Tone It Up girls put together a serious (but hilarious) travel workout that you can watch here.
8. Avoid the Sedentary Trap
Many professionals confess that exercise helps them deal with job stress and long commutes. And while a daily gym or jogging session is great, you need more than an hour of activity to stay fit—especially if you work up to 10-hour days on your rump, like many Americans.
“If you think your once-a-day training session counteracts the hours you spend sitting, think again,” warns Tia Albright.
It’s easier than you think to steal extra training time: commute to work via foot or bicycle a few days a week. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk around the block on your lunch break. And for heaven’s sake, don’t trample the grass just to shave a minute off your trip into the building!
In the office, keep moving: get up to refill your water bottle on the hour and have face-to-face conversations instead of emailing your coworkers. For more tips on staying active beyond the gym’s walls, Active.com has a great guide.
And finally, if your workplace has a corporate wellness program, take advantage!
If you really can’t change your work habits, maybe it’s time for a change of scenery? Read IdealShape’s Pink Slip Weight Loss.