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Shape up at the Office

6 ways to bring your healthy
lifestyle to the office!

Shape Up At The Office: 6 Healthy Habits For The Workplace

Don't let fitness fall victim to a demanding job. Learn six ways to make your workplace healthier!

Even if you spend an hour each day at the gym, you spend at least eight times that amount at work. Sitting. Snacking. Stressing. None of which furthers your personal fitness agenda.

I'm not saying you should throw your papers in the air and walk out the door to become a personal trainer, professional mountain bike racer, or bear wrestler. That may not be a good idea. You can, however, implement a few strategies to make your workplace healthier.

By making your office a friendly place for health and fitness, you'll be able to spend more time working toward your goals. Add the following things to your workday and you might just see those inches slide off a little faster. This will probably help your career, too. Win-win.

1
Fire Your Chair and Replace it with an Exercise Ball

Your old office chair sees more of your backside than probably anything or anyone in the world. Sitting eight hours every day may not be killing you, but if you add those hours to the time you spend sitting in the car, sitting on the couch, and sitting at the table, you're looking at spending most of your life on your butt. According to this infographic, sitting too much is just about the worst thing you can do.

Take some wear off your spine by sitting on an exercise ball. It's a great way to strengthen your entire abdominal region and the muscles that flank the spinal column. By sitting on one throughout the day, you maintain a low level of contraction in the core muscles, providing strength benefits and added calorie burn.

If you're struggling to stay upright on an exercise ball, try sitting on it for one-hour intervals until you can remain upright all day.

2
Stock a Mini-fridge/Cooler

If you have an office, invest in a mini-fridge. If you're in a cubicle farm, bring a cooler to work. Packing in your lunch and snacks for the day makes keeping track of your macros nice and simple. If you're constantly going out for lunch instead of preparing a healthy meal at home, you probably ingest far more calories than you need.

It takes 10 minutes to prepare a healthy lunch the night before work or pack leftovers from dinner. So there's no excuse to continually make poor eating choices.

3
Stuff Your Desk Drawer with Healthy Snacks

The vending machine can take a toll on your nutrition plans. Instead of wasting your money on that Pop-Tart and Diet Coke like usual, keep some canned tuna, instant oatmeal, low-sodium jerky, protein bars, and home-made trail mix in your desk drawer. The next time you have to work late, healthy eats will be within arms' reach.

More ideas for some easy, packable snacks can be found here.

4
Coffee Break? Put Caffeine to Good Use

No matter how hard you work, you need to take an occasional break to de-stress and refresh. So keep a pair of running shoes stashed under your desk, and when your coffee break rolls around, take a brisk 10-15 minute walk. Not only will this torch a few calories, but it may help you clear your mind, ease stress, regain focus, and feel more energized.

XXX
"you need to take an occasional break to de-stress and refresh."

Movement increases circulation to your limbs and brain. Most people don't realize how energy-draining long-term sitting can be. So if you feel like passing out at your desk, a mid-morning and mid-afternoon stroll could be just what you need.

5
Keep a Water Bottle on Your Desk

keep a water bottle on your desk at all times.
"keep a water bottle on your desk at all times."

If the only fluids you tend to consume during your workday are coffee and diet soda, you need some water. Many people don't realize they're dehydrated. Thirst can zap your concentration, energy and performance.

Start keeping a water bottle on your desk at all times. That way, you can sip on it as the day moves along and get the water your body needs without having to think about it.

6
Set a Timer

Instead of sitting at your desk for eight hours straight, set a timer to go off each hour. When it beeps, do something active for one or two minutes.

You can do 10 push-ups or squats easily enough. Even going for a short walk is better than nothing.

By moving around for just two minutes every hour, you'll feel better at the end of the day. Bring a little play to work and your brain. Your body and your boss will all thank you.


Related Articles

About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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ealionhandley

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ealionhandley

excellent advice as I sit a desk pretty much all day staring at lines and numbers all day. great advice. I will apply the advice

Feb 19, 2013 6:07pm | report
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TBoneFTW

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TBoneFTW

I never thought to ditch the chair at my office, thats great advice that i think i should try!

Feb 19, 2013 7:16pm | report
jwethall

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jwethall

None of these will help your career FYI. They will only alienate you from your peers even further. Just brining my own meals in tupperware instead of going to company lunches have raised a wary brow. Bring your food to work, drink water, and be active outside of work. Doing pushups in your office or sitting on an exercise ball will just get you excluded from the management crowd that hates that you make them look bad.

Feb 19, 2013 7:54pm | report
awlareau

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awlareau

This stuff can indeed help your career. One, it shows that you put your free time to good use. Two, it will help your mental acuity, which will improve performance at your job.

Feb 19, 2013 8:50pm | report
jwethall

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jwethall

I suppose it could help your career if you worked with people that were also fitness fanatics. But speaking from experience, you want to have MORE common ground with the bosses not less. And if your bosses are not into fitness, they won't respect what you do. Moving up in a company isn't about hard work and setting yourself aside from the herd, its about networking and making good relationships with people in upper management by finding common ground. Its not super motivational, but its true.

Feb 19, 2013 8:56pm | report
JonathanWinbush

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JonathanWinbush

It actually helped my career. I started my health journey last year and do alto of this specially packing my own food and not going out to eat. After people saw what I was doing worked and lost 50lbs I became more noticed and eventually alto of people started packing their food and we'd all go on lunch hikes. I never was in your face about my health habits I did my own thing and people took notice. My boss at the time even pulled me in his office on a private chat on what he could change around the office to make it a more healthy environment.

Feb 19, 2013 9:25pm | report
jwethall

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jwethall

Well then good on ya brother. I live in Utah, and it seems even though we're one of the most vain states in the nation...somehow diet is still centered around high sugar/simple carb feedings. Mostly I've received flack for my lifestyle, but then again, I always have here haha. One day I'll move someplace normal.

Feb 19, 2013 9:39pm | report
Scott8v

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Scott8v

"you want to have MORE common ground with the bosses not less. And if your bosses are not into fitness, they won't respect what you do. "

So your advice would be if your boss does not live a healthy life style, you shouldn't either. You have got to be the dumbest person on this site. No one values your opinion so do everyone a favor and shut it

Feb 20, 2013 10:25am | report
jwethall

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jwethall

What a surprise you missed the point. Get lost troll

Feb 20, 2013 11:48am | report
Scott8v

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Scott8v

I think you missed the point of this whole site...improving health and body while providing helpful information...not put people down. You're a disgrace. It's not surprising that this isn't the first negative comment I've seen from you.

Feb 20, 2013 12:34pm | report
jwethall

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jwethall

Be gone troll.

Feb 20, 2013 1:02pm | report
Scott8v

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Scott8v

Pathetic

Feb 20, 2013 1:34pm | report
Spartanrowing

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Spartanrowing

It might alienate you from some of your peers, but then again, they would be horrible "friends" to abandon you for any of these reasons. One thing that bosses tend to like even more than common ground is results, and taking short exercise breaks in between work can greatly increase productivity. If yu don't believe me ask the late Steve Jobs, whose company Apple currently has more money on hand than most countries in the world (including the US and China). He was famous for his "walking meeting" which were called by his co-workers some of the most productive meetings they have ever been in. Also if Scott8v missed the point entirely than what would it be? That you should just hide everything you do? There are plenty of other ways to suck up to your bosses. Also, just because they do not live the same lifestyle doesn't mean they will hate you for it.

Feb 20, 2013 6:11pm | report
bunnybuilder

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bunnybuilder

You're right on Jwethall....a lot of this stuff will have people thinking you are nuts or narcissistic,especially if you are already in good shape. I get crap all the time for bringing my own lunches almost every day when most of my coworkers get takeout/fast food. They talk like it makes me less of a man. I can only imagine how they would react to some of these other suggestions.

Keeping the healthy snacks at your desk is a good idea. Drinking water is good too but you have to be careful. Drink too much and you are constantly having to go the bathroom.

The idea of sitting on a medicine ball is pretty lame. I can guarantee most regular Joe bosses would think you were a complete fruitcake. Getting up to walk around or do pushups is great if you are the type of person that doesn't work out regularly but most people on this site are doing that. If you are hitting the gym 3-5 times a week and hitting it hard you won't be needing to do any of that.

Feb 20, 2013 8:22pm | report
Zoso1116

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Zoso1116

I agree with you and bunnybuilder, in the corporate world there are still a lot of higher-ups living extremely unhealthy lifestyles and if you're already in great shape, doing these things could seem like you're just trying to show off. The snacks at the desk, bottle of water, and maybe taking a walk around the office (becareful not to look like you're slacking off) or getting up to use the bathroom are good ideas. The ball & push ups are probably a little much though.

Feb 21, 2013 8:38am | report
ASmith11

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ASmith11

In my office everybody knows how much I am into being fit and healthy. People aren't even phased when they walk by and I'm stretching my hips, or foraging through my 18-can lunch cooler. I've become the unofficial go-to guy for fitness advice.

Feb 22, 2013 10:01am | report
michaelrsteffin

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michaelrsteffin

i go and do push ups behind my work area. pack 2 lunches and drink plenty of water. i work in a big plant so plenty of walking is already there.

Feb 19, 2013 8:26pm | report
razmigsahagian

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razmigsahagian

all very good advice, except the first one, i dont think you can look serious and work focused sitting on an exercise ball.

Feb 20, 2013 1:08am | report
mattmoo123

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mattmoo123

My boss would slap me if I asked to sit on a swiss ball. Lol. What would the customers think? Maybe that im pregnant and the first male to have a baby... More customers come to check it out, more people buy stuff, increased revenue and profit. WIN WIN!

Feb 20, 2013 3:27am | report
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ChrisTheMan1993

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ChrisTheMan1993

I always keep in my desk oatmeal, a couple of protein bars, almonds, a little jar with protein powder and most important water!!!

Feb 20, 2013 6:33am | report
Patman23051

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Patman23051

I recently moved from an Aircraft Maintenance job where I was on my feet loading, unloading and transporting bombs and missiles for anywhere from 6-12 hours a day without a more than a lunch break, to a desk job where I'm sitting for anywhere from 6-9 hours straight. I'm more tired at the end of a 6 hour day at this desk than I ever was after a 12 hour day slammin' bombs. Definately a serious adjustment.

Feb 20, 2013 6:34am | report
nixo

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nixo

My question is... How the hell do you convince your boss to let you take that 10 minutes break every 3 hours to take in your meals? I would for sure get fired!

Feb 20, 2013 6:35am | report
tjhowley68

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tjhowley68

Get a better job? Just messin, honestly i've been lucky and worked in a fitness environment for most of my time but when I didn't, I brought a few small meals as well as my lunch. When I was sitting at the computer i'd pull out a quick snack and munch on that. Protein bar, fruit, yogurt etc.

Feb 20, 2013 8:08am | report
jpstanton

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jpstanton

What do you do that you can't get 10 mins free every 3 hours? Do people at your work smoke? If so, I bet they take more and longer breaks than that.

Feb 20, 2013 11:12am | report
nixo

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nixo

I work for an electricity compagny where smokers have to do so without stopping (we work outside 95% of the time). Most of the time we even eat lunch while working. Maybe the "Get a better job" part isn't such a bad idea after all! lol

Feb 20, 2013 12:35pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 52 Comments

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