Prevention & Recovery

8 ways to stay healthy at the office

By: Colleen Curtis

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Prevention & Recovery

8 ways to stay healthy at the office

By: Colleen Curtis
At the office we often find ourselves sitting for long periods of time, snacking on unhealthy foods and endlessly consuming coffee. Even though we know these habits aren't good for us, we often have a hard time breaking the cycle. Luckily, there are simple changes you can make at work that will leave you feeling happier, healthier and more productive.

1. Create an ergonomic workstation. "Ergonomics is perfecting the relationship between the worker and the equipment for the purpose of insuring comfort and efficiency," says Shona Anderson, Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist and president of Anderson Ergonomics Consulting Inc. Creating an ergonomically sound office space can improve functionality, health and well-being at work.

• Ensure you have a chair that supports you and is fully adjustable. Look for a seat where the front edge curves towards to floor.
• It can be a habit to cross your legs at your desk, but it's better to have both feet planted on the ground.
• Try to have your elbows bent at 90 degrees. To do this you can adjust your chair height and keyboard or desk height.

2. Take breaks. Download an app to your phone or computer that will remind you to stand up and take walking breaks. Anderson explains that even if your workstation is set up ergonomically, when you sit for long periods, your muscles can get tight and fatigued. Taking breaks is important to allow your muscles to relieve their stress.

• The app Stand Up! will notify you when it's time to take a break.
Move will give you ideas for different workouts you can do in the office.
Ergonomics allows you to set up reminders to take a break and stretch.

3. Snack right. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) says eating healthy at work can actually reduce anxiety and stress as well as boost your mood. So ditch the junk food for some healthy alternatives.

• Try granola instead of snacking on sugary cereal.
• Fruit and cheese is a great alternative to chocolate and other sweets.
• Instead of chips try whole grain crackers.

4. Get organized. Being organized can do a lot for your stress and anxiety levels.

• Set up an effective filing system. There's nothing more stressful than searching through files to find that one you think you saved two months ago.
• Get rid of those extra shoes under your desk! "If the clutter on or under your desk is causing you to not be able to sit in a good position, then that is an ergonomics issue," says Anderson.
• Take some time at the end of your day to organize and put everything away properly.

5. Find natural light. Natural light is a great mood booster so make sure you're getting enough. Health Canada recommends adults and children get 600 IUs of vitamin D a day.

• If you're not sitting directly by a window try to get outside on your breaks.
• If it's a nice day suggest a walking meeting where you spend some time outside.
• The lights in your office can also contribute to your health. The CCOHS says light flicker is a major contributor to headaches and eyestrain. Call somebody to get that bulb changed.

6. Stretch. "Stretching while sitting is a good option, but we encourage people to stretch standing because it gets you out of that static position," says Anderson. Stand up for one minute and do three stretches. Your muscles will respond and get more blood flowing to them.

• Take a walk to the printer or photocopier and stretch your shoulders and back on the way there.
• If you're sitting, try a chest stretch (put your hands behind your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together) or a neck stretch (slowly bend your head side to side).
• Stretching also includes your eyes. The CCOHS suggests looking away from your screen occasionally to focus your eyes on something further away.

7. Limit caffeine. To get through the day most people need a cup - or several - of coffee. Your drink may seem like it's boosting your energy at the time, but the CCOHS says excessive amounts of caffeine can actually cause headaches, anxiousness and irritability.

• Trade in your triple-triple for plain black coffee to reduce sugar and fat consumption.
• If you have a few cups of coffee a day, attempt cutting back to just one.
• Try healthier alternatives to keep you alert like kombucha, a of shot wheat grass or apple cider vinegar.

8. Deal with your stress. Your day can be packed with meetings, assignments and deadlines. Some stress in your life can be good for motivation, but there is a point where it can become unhealthy if you're feeling nervous, depressed or losing sleep.

• Try to slow down. Take several deep breaths through the day to relax your mind and body.
• Give yourself small breaks. Physical activity can be a great stress reliever - get up and go for short walks.
• Become a planner. In the morning, write down all the tasks you have to accomplish so you can see them in front of you and prioritize.

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Prevention & Recovery

8 ways to stay healthy at the office