Keeping work healthy

As we examined last month most office use traditional sitting desks, and sitting down for extended periods can have negative effects on health and wellbeing as well as placing you at higher risk of having a heart attack. In that article, standing desks were looked at as a way of avoiding these effects. While this may not be possible for everyone, there are several simple things that can be done to keep yourself in good health despite those long hours in the office. 

Observe proper sitting posture at all times
This means sitting (or standing) with your back straight and your shoulders back – if you use a computer, the screen should be level with your eyes. You may find it easier to slouch, but each time you do, force yourself to sit up straight and before too long you’ll be doing it automatically. Good posture ensures that no one part of your body is overstressed, your weight is distributed evenly and you minimise the negative effects that you may have with muscle soreness and joint issues.

It’s a good idea to be constantly stretching your arms, legs, neck and torso while you’re sitting. This aids blood flow and helps to avoid feelings of stiffness. These exercises are simple, and can involve rolling your shoulders, wrists and ankles, flexing your head in different directions and contracting your abdomen for a few seconds and releasing. You can do this at any period throughout the day – at your desk or even while waiting by the printer. The exercises are subtle, but highly effective! 

Stand up at least every half an hour
Try standing and walking (even a small walk will be sufficient) every half an hour to aid blood flow and circulation. This can be easily achieved by walking to someone’s desk rather than contacting them by phone or email or filling up a glass of water. These short breaks from sitting can increase energy levels and stave off fatigue. 

Rest your eyes
Focusing on your computer screen for extended periods of time means your eyes end up staring at the same point for hours causing eye strain and fatigue as well as making you inactive for long periods throughout the day. To avoid this, make sure you’re taking a break from staring at the computer – taking a short walk helps in two ways here! 

Take the stairs
It may seem obvious, but taking the stairs rather than the elevator is highly beneficial. Walking up stairs is a light to moderate workout in itself, and you can add to this by walking faster or taking the stairs two at a time. This will aid blood flow, breathing and overall energy levels. If your office is on an upper floor of a tall building, you may not want to take the stairs the whole way but you can still take them part of the way – just get off a few floors earlier and see if you can beat the elevator to your floor! 

Use your breaks effectively
Even a quick walk at lunch time down the street and back will be beneficial by aiding digestion, helping you freshen up and giving your body a small kickstart by briefly raising your heart rate from resting mode. Do this every day and it starts to add up – ten minutes a day is nearly an hour a week of extra exercise that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.

All of the above exercises are simple but effective and can be incorporated to any office. Make them a habit and you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time!