Not that long ago, especially when you consider the entire length of human history, most people worked outside. You were a hunter, a farmer, a tracker, or a builder. You got dirty and sweaty, and you used every muscle until it hurt to earn your day’s pay. Granted, those paychecks were minuscule and the idea of worker’s rights and a proper minimum wage were laughable. But the one thing you had was a job that doubled as exercise. Those days are long gone. The majority of Americans work in white collar office situations, with most of their day spent seated, basking in the glow from a computer monitor. Many of the remaining active jobs are being minimized, as even factory workers are forced aside by machines. For most people, a career that creates a sedentary lifestyle is the reality. But while it may pay better, it isn’t necessarily better for you. Stress levels are high, and physical fitness and overall health is lower than ever before. So try to incorporate a few of these ideas to stay healthy and active when you have a desk job.
First and foremost, you must remember to take regular breaks. To avoid eyestrain and stress headaches doctors advise you to look away from the computer twice an hour. That means taking at least five minutes out of every thirty you are working to focus on something other than the screen. Look far in the distance, and change up your perspective. Then take a physical break from your seat every hour. If you cannot leave your office simply stand up and stretch. Sitting in the same position for two long encourages blood clots and muscle fatigue. Stretch your neck, your back, your shoulders and all other parts of your body that tend to stay frozen in place when you’re working, and you’ll be able to maintain focus and effectiveness for a much longer part of the day.
Next, make sure you get out of the office for your lunch break. Taking some time out of the fluorescent lighting is incredibly important. You need the vitamin D the sun provides for proper energy and health, and the time out of the canned heat and air will also help you stave off illness. Try to take your lunch outside, and use the full hour you’re given away from your desk if at all possible. The best choice is to take thirty minutes to eat lunch and then go for a walk for the other thirty minutes. It will help your digestion and your circulation, while also kicking your metabolism up a notch after a half day of sitting around.
If you can’t get out for a walk during lunch, make sure you take the opportunity to get in some physical activity each and every day. If your work provides a gym membership, definitely take advantage. Some larger companies even offer exercise or yoga classes as part of their health and wellness program. Get involved, and find a buddy at work that you can partner up with. It is always easier to keep up an exercise regimen when two people are keeping each other accountable.
Perhaps your work doesn’t provide a gym membership, you can’t afford one on your own, and you work too many hours to get to the gym during the week. In that case, make up for it during the weekend. Walking, running or going for a bike ride are all free, and your only limitation is the weather. And focus on other areas if you can’t give enough attention to exercise. Make sure you are getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night and eating a balanced diet to lower stress and maintain healthy hormone levels. Get a regular checkup from the doctor twice a year, and make time for vacations. The desk job will be there waiting for you, but you must invest the time into yourself or you won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your labors.