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7 Tips for Staying Healthy at Work

Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits consistently can be tough if your job requires you to work in an office several days a week. If your self-discipline weakens the minute you walk into your workplace, try a few of these health-promoting tips for office professionals.

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1. Brown bag your lunch.

If the takeout pizza in the employee lunchroom constantly calls your name, it'll be easier to resist if you have a satisfying and flavorful lunch of your own waiting. Make your favorite meals at home over the weekend, doubling or tripling the recipes, so you'll have grab-and-go lunches available all week.

Bringing your own healthy homemade lunch to work can save you money and calories. The meals can even double as no-cook dinners on busy weeknights when you're too tired to cook. Check out these easy lunch ideas that cost less than $3 per serving.

2. Create a healthy snack drawer.

Deal with the temptation posed by junk-food vending machines by keeping a stash of shelf-stable snacks on hand. Fill your snack drawer with nourishing foods that provide you with healthy fats, high-quality protein and whole-grain carbohydrates.

Healthy snacks for work that are great for quick retrieval when hunger pangs strike include:

  • Raw nuts
  • Dried, unsweetened fruit
  • Protein or meal-replacement bars
  • Vacuum-sealed tuna pouches
  • Brown rice cakes and peanut butter
  • Plain, unsweetened oatmeal packets

3. Reduce caffeine intake, increase water consumption.

Caffeine has its benefits. It increases wakefulness, alleviates fatigue, and improves concentration and focus. Most healthy adults can safely enjoy up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about how much you'll get in four cups of brewed coffee.

Once you've hit your four-cup limit, switch to drinking plain water. It, too, can help you stay energized. Keep a large drinking glass or water bottle on your desk.

Some of the productivity-decreasing side effects of dehydration include:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood changes
  • Poor skin health

4. Stand up and move around every half hour.

You've probably heard the research that shows sitting for long periods is bad for your health. Some of the conditions associated with prolonged sitting include:

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Increased blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess body fat around the waist
  • An increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer

Set a timer that reminds you to stand up and move around every 30 minutes. You can stand while you talk on the phone, take frequent restroom breaks or have walking staff meetings with your coworkers. Consider a standing desk if your workplace allows.

5. Commit to an hour of exercise sometime during your workday.

One study involving more than 1 million people, looked at sitting time and activity levels. Researchers found that participants could counter the effects of too much sitting with 60-75 minutes per day of moderately intense physical activity. Try to squeeze in 60 minutes of comfortable walking every day, either before or after work or during your lunch break.

6. Practice good workplace hygiene.

Shared work surfaces and office equipment can be breeding grounds for germs that cause illnesses. Keep your workstation clean and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with 62% alcohol) or sanitizing wipes throughout the day. Wash your hands thoroughly for 15 to 20 seconds before touching your face or eating to help keep colds and the flu out of the office.

7. Team up with an accountability buddy.

Enlist a trusted coworker to be your accountability buddy. Share your healthy-at-work goals and outline the specific actions you plan to take to achieve them. It's your buddy's job to help you follow through and keep your commitments when your internal motivation starts to weaken.

The American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65% more likely to reach a goal after committing to another person. If you schedule periodic check-in meetings with your partner to share your progress, your chance of succeeding in your goal increases to 95%.

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