Given the stressful jobs we lead today, with the ever increasing pressure of competition, market volatility, and fear of the workload keeping us awake at night, staying healthy, both physically and mentally, is a necessity. While you should definitely enrol for a gym, yoga, pilates, or swimming membership to stay fit, you should also look for other ways to build a healthy lifestyle. Since the average Indian spends about 9-12 hours a day at work, we’ve come up with simple habits you can develop to stay fit at work..
Here are 7 healthy workplace habits that will keep you fit:
1. The 20:8:2 minute habit.
Dr. Alan Hedge, a professor of Human Factors and Ergonomics at Cornell University, suggested the 20:8:2 minute cycle to help employees stay fit during their 8-9 hour shift. Each cycle consists of sitting in a good posture for 20 minutes, standing upright for 8 minutes, and stretching/walking for 2 minutes. In a 7.5 hour work shift that excludes the lunch break, an individual will have sat for 5 hours, stood for 2 hours, and stretched or walked for half an hour. That’s a lot more movement compared to the standard 3 hour sitting sessions only to take a water or loo break. The possible benefits of repeating this 20:8:2 minute cycle everyday at work are numerous:
- Your blood flow increases
- You stay alert, are able to concentrate more and therefore be more productive
- Your muscles loosen up at regular intervals
- You avoid poor posture and the health hazards that come with it
- You avoid the afternoon slump
Switching to a standing or ergonomically designed desk helps a great deal. Some companies have a treadmill/cycle attached to a desk. While this might not help concentration a lot, it does help you feel fresh and energised after a quick session. Siemens Ltd., in their head office in Mumbai, runs a workplace fitness session twice a day where all employees and visitors are expected to perform certain stretches and exercises as instructed over the PA system. All work, meetings, and conferences have to be put on hold and everyone is expected to participate. Such initiatives help employees stay fit and healthy throughout.
2. Promote standing / walking meetings.
When you can’t boast of new age furniture at your workplace, standing meetings are a great way to squeeze in a fitness habit. Or you could go a step further and have a meeting over an evening stroll through your office campus or around your workplace. To be honest, people hate standing for a long time, be it for queues or for trains. Same goes for meetings. But continue to urge people to stand up for meetings, because you’re not only making yourself and everyone else fit, you’re also helping them finish the meetings much faster.
3. Drink a glass of water every two hours.
Stressful work schedules, back-to-back meetings, calls, excel sheets, and brainstorming sessions keep us too busy to think about what our body needs—lots of water. We need water to perform various bodily functions like regulating our temperature, lubricating our joints, flushing waste out of our system, carrying nutrients and oxygen to all our cells, protecting our organs, and dissolving minerals and nutrients. If we don’t replenish our water levels regularly, we lower the efficiency with which our body functions. This results in lack of concentration, drowsiness, nausea, inability to crunch numbers and read effectively, etc. It as advised that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Considering you drink a glass before and after bed, one after breakfast and one after dinner, you’re left with 4 glasses of water during your 8-9 hour work shift. Not a difficult task at all. Apps like Plant Nanny, Drink Water Reminder, Aqualert, etc help when you need reminders to drink water often.
4. Rest your eyes.
According to research by Nielsen, the average person spends about 11 hours every day staring at a screen. That number is only expected to rise as we are constantly hooked to our smartphones and laptops for work and entertainment. Therefore, it is imperative that we rest our eyes after regular intervals. One way to do this is to squeeze in 2-minutes of eye exercises in your 20:8:2 minute cycle, possibly at the end of the 20-minute sitting session. Eye exercises like rolling your eyes from left to right and top to bottom, and like looking inwards at the tip of the nose and then looking at distance, are very helpful to maintain a good vision. You can also try softly massaging your eyes with your fingers and putting a cold napkin on them to take away the heat.
5. Skip the coffee.
Many of you might not like this healthy habit, but coffee, aerated drinks and energy drinks do more harm than good to you. Any substance that instantly wakes you up and energises you can be good only in the short run. Over a few years, you’ll be addicted to the drinks and only feel awake after you’ve given yourself a dose of caffeine. Soft drinks and energy drinks are high on sugar, and it is best to avoid them completely. Instead, opt for healthier options like fruits, juices, coconut water, or herbal tea.
6. Bring your own lunch.
One important habit to stay fit is to eat right. Yes, restaurants today deliver many healthy and organic meals right to your desk, but can you guarantee they are 100% healthy and absolutely safe? Bringing your own lunch also helps you curb cravings. Remember that time you ordered and gorged on a whole pizza just because you had to order something? To take it up a notch, start a potluck lunch group where everyone brings healthy home-cooked food that you all can share.
7. Ditch the vending machine.
Instead, stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, sugar-free protein bars, dried fruit or fresh fruit, peanut butter, dry bhel, homemade sugar-free laddus and protein balls, etc. Vending machines sadly have packaged foods high on preservatives, sugars, and salts. To maintain a healthy habit at the workplace, you have to find ways to skip trips to the vending machine. Some health conscious companies today store organic products and even fresh fruit. If you’re amongst the lucky ones working for such a company, by all means, befriend the vending machine.
Your workplace fitness regime doesn’t have to end here. Desk yoga is a popular workplace fitness trend where you do some stretching, breathing, and relaxing exercises at your desk two or three times a day to stay energised and pumped up. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be all that difficult. And it isn’t. Simple changes to your lifestyle and a few easy tricks like the ones above can get you a long way in maintaining a healthy and fit body.