October is Healthy Workplace Month, and I’ve started thinking a lot about ways to keep fit between the hours of 9 and 5. My last job kept me pretty active. I ran from meeting to meeting (literally ran), helped set up events that required plenty of heavy lifting and everyone just seemed to move fast. It must be a theatre thing, but you never saw people strolling down the hallway, sipping their coffee. People moved with a purpose, and moved quickly. On top of that, my office was on the third floor of the building, and with an elevator that broke every time you looked at it, there was always incentive to take the stairs.
In my new job, there’s not quite the same level of physical activity. Mostly, it’s a nice change. Things are calmer, slower, which is what I wanted. But it’s also meant that I’ve had to become proactive about my habits during the workday. This is my first time working a 9-5 job in a real office (I’m much more used to a 10am-midnight schedule, and answering emails from my phone in the back row of a theatre). I love it, but I can definitely see how easy it would be to fall into an unhealthy pattern. If you’re not lucky enough to work at an office with treadmill work stations and complimentary healthy lunches, here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful over the past couple of months:
There are so many days when I could sit behind my desk for the full 8 hours without moving. The majority of my job requires that I be at a computer, and it’s kind of tough to edit a report while running around the building. I’ve learned to schedule time to be active the same way I schedule the rest of my day. Lately, I’ve been eating my lunch at my desk and using my hour break to walk around the city. I know this will be more difficult in the winter, but while the weather is nice, I’ve been grabbing my Ipod and pounding the pavement for 60 minutes of cardio, and some much needed Vitamin D.
Pack your snacks.
We’ve all been there. You walk into a meeting, and suddenly the table is littered with goodies. Leftover cupcakes from last night’s dinner party, that extra bag of potato chips from last weekend’s picnic. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the only reason your co-workers bring in their leftover junk food is because they want to avoid eating it themselves! Don’t become their human garbage disposal. Keep a stash of healthy snacks in your desk drawer or purse for just this occasion. I know I can’t sit in a room full of people munching away without diving in myself, so I’ll bring my healthy back-up to the table instead. I always have a bag of almonds, a granola bar or a banana on hand, so at the end of the meeting, I walk out full of energy, not regret.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Water is essential in being able to maintain focus throughout the day, it’s probably just as if not more important than a good night’s sleep. People who are dehydrated experience fatigue, lack of focus or concentration, and even headaches. Buy a reusable water bottle that you love, and you’ll be more likely to actually use it. When it doubles as an accessory, you’ll be more inclined to tote it from meeting to meeting. I recently bought this one in hot pink, and it goes with me everywhere.
Make it count.
In an ideal world, we would all go the extra mile to be healthy. Everyone would get in a 5 mile run before the sun rises, we would all happily munch our salads at lunch and there would be communal bike rides to the nearest yoga studio at the end of the day. Well, here on earth, I’m lucky if I make it to office on time as it is, there are some days when kale just tastes like something cows should be eating and I’m physically incapable of sitting still and stretching for longer than 5 minutes. That being said, there are a few small changes that I think really do make a difference. When I have to fill up my water bottle, I go the long way to the kitchen. If the weather’s particularly nice out, I’ll get off the metro a stop earlier than usual and walk the rest of the way home. I try to walk up the stairs or escalator whenever possible. They’re small changes and they don’t feel like much at the time, but they add up pretty quickly. I’ve started looking for any opportunity to keep my heart rate up, even if its only for a few minutes.