The headlines about our workplace’s negative affect on our health are everywhere…
“Sitting is the new smoking” is a popular one.
“How the workplace contributes to America’s expanding waistlines” is another.
I’m sure you’ve read enough about ideas like a standing or treadmill desk to combat these issues, so we won’t be talking about that here at all. If you’re looking for some simple and practical tips you can start using today to stay healthy at work, then you’ll love this infographic.
Here’s a quick summary of the top tips on how to stay healthy at work:
- Make hydration benchmarks throughout the day
- Automate reminders to get out of your seat
- High five coworkers
- Reward task completion with a healthy snack
- Rejuvenate with a walk
- Positive psychology for positive physiology
- Recharge with a lunchtime nap
- Take the long way
- Stretch it out
Share this Image On Your Site
Want to become a better professional in just 5 minutes?
How to Stay Healthy at Work: A Breakdown of All 9 Hacks
1. Make hydration benchmarks
Like any other goal, your mission to stay hydrated becomes more easily attainable when you break it into small, specific tasks you can start tackling immediately.
Your mind (and your bladder) might be daunted by the challenge of chugging 64 ounces of water a day…but drinking 8 ounces of water every few hours, on the other hand, sounds perfectly manageable.
We found this awesome trick to drink enough water throughout the day from Chris Freytag at Get Healthy U.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Buy a Nalgene or a water bottle from a department store or online retailer.
Step 2: Draw markers on the outside indicating how much water you need to drink by certain times of the day, working your way down the bottle from morning to night.
Step 3: Drink water past those lines by the time you specified.
Here’s a visual representation of this hack from Chris’s site:
Before you know it, your hydration routine will flow naturally (no pun intended).
Hydration is a simple thing that provides an array of benefits.
According to the American Heart Association,
“keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.”
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list these benefits to guzzling the good stuff:
- Aids efficient temperature regulation
- Helps joints function smoothly
- Guards tissues and the spinal cord
- Helps rid your body of waste
2. Automate getting out of your seat
Workplace distractions challenge your best intentions.
You resolve each morning to get up and move around more when you’re at work, only to fall victim to emails, deadlines, last minute tasks, and a barrage of other items stampeding through your day with a false sense of urgency. Even when confronted by unimportant “urgencies,” your best intentions evaporate.
You’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking“, but how do you actually ensure you’re getting out of your seat enough times throughout the day?
Fortunately, you can easily train yourself to beat this mentality and stop letting looming busy work overpower your physical needs. Set a calendar reminder for every 30 to 60 minutes saying,“Get up and move!”
Walk to the water cooler, get some fresh air, go chat with a coworker—do anything to get out of your seat and get some steps in.
But the good news is that the risks of sitting seem to roll off people who balance their sit time with high levels of activity.
Bonus Hack: Work in Pomodoros. I use this free online Pomodoro timer to work for 25 minutes and then I take a 5 minute break at the end of each Pomodoro. This helps me not only work better and with more focus, but also “forces” me to take regular walking breaks.
You need to! The risks of sitting have been well documented by a variety of researchers.
One expert writing a question and answer post for Mayo Clinic outlines the health risks of too much sitting. They include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Excess body fat
- Cholesterol levels
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of cancer
Furthermore, sitting doesn’t care about other stats. The risks of sitting for 8+ hours a day look startlingly similar to the risks of smoking and obesity, regardless of the person’s actual body weight and smoking status.
3. High five co-workers
Remember that feeling you used to get in gym class when you cleared the bases in a serious game of kickball and your teammates gave you a high five?
Or the simple boost you would get when just walking down the hallway and someone slapped you five for absolutely no reason?
Why did we ever stop doing that?
High fives release oxytocin (known as the “trust hormone”) and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Positivity can also help reduce stress levels and improve physical and mental resilience. Instead of the typical “hello” when passing by a coworker, give them a high five.
If you’re looking to kick it up a notch, try the “Epic High Five”:
If someone impresses you with a job well done, give them a high five. Actions speak louder than words and a high five says it all.
An added bonus: you’re less likely to spread germs than you would through shaking hands. Just try not to smile when someone gives you a high five. It’s impossible.
4. Reward task completion with a healthy snack
Even people engaged at work face mountainous tasks that just seem impossible. Give yourself a boost by rewarding yourself with something healthy to eat when you complete a long task.
You’ve heard the phrase “stress eating”, which is basically using food as a way to cope with something difficult or stressful. Over time this becomes a habit, especially during working hours where you’re often the most stressed out.
Author Charles Duhigg explains more about habits in his book The Power of Habit. He breaks down every habit loop into a sequence of 3 events:
- A cue – a trigger that tells your brain to go into autopilot for a specific habit (for the example of stress eating, this would be the feeling of stress)
- A routine – the action you take after the cue (going to the pantry)
- A reward – the benefit for taking the action (eating something loaded with sugar that releases dopamine, i.e. the pleasure chemical, in your brain)
While most people will focus on trying to change the routine, focusing on improving the cue and reward will actually help you improve the routine.
So we propose the next time stress hits at work, tell yourself that you’re going to get through this task and then reward yourself with something healthy (and tasty).
Not only will the dangling carrot make your tasks more pleasant, but choosing a healthy snack will also improve your overall health, curb your cravings, elevate your mood, and boost your brainpower.
5. Rejuvenate with a walk
Never underestimate the power of a power walk…especially one combined with multi-tasking.
Our modern lifestyles have us all in quite a dilemma: we have lots of important work to do, but at the same time, health experts say we should squeeze in about 10,000 steps a day.
How can you possibly cram all of that into your busy day?
Take some of your tasks on the road.
You undoubtably have meetings on the phone several times a week, if not several times a day. Instead of taking every call at your desk and adding to the time you’re spending in your chair, pop in your earbuds and go for a walking meeting during your call with a client, a vendor or a colleague
Walking while on a call can improve your confidence too, so it can be a great way to close a deal.
Walking can also boost your creativity and help you come up with new ideas. Stanford researchers uncovered a compelling correlation between walking and creativity. Walking inside and outside helps people generate ideas both during the walk and after the walk ends.
If you are feeling especially motivated about your health in the office, fitting in a quick workout during your lunch hour can help you feel energized the rest of the day.
Here are some other ideas for getting in your daily steps, even when your job requires you to sit for hours:
- Walk over to talk to people instead of calling or Slacking them. If you do this every time you need to talk to someone, then the steps could definitely add up.
- Walk in place.
- Get up and do steps any time you have to read something.
- Do laps when you’re trying to come up with a new idea or figure something out.
- Volunteer to help deliver mail or memos.
- Start a walking club so others can keep you accountable for walking every day.
6. Positive psychology for a positive physiology
Practicing gratitude can have a positive impact on your mental health. By spending some time each day finding things you have to be grateful for, you’re training your brain to look for positivity.
If you partake in this daily practice, you’ll be delighted to know that there are additional benefits. Mental health professionals discovered practicing gratitude can benefit your physical health too by boosting your immune system, helping you manage stress, and more.
To benefit the most from your gratitude, make it a habit through focused practice. Plan to write down at least three things you’re grateful for when you get to your desk every single morning.
Like we outlined in section #4, use a good reward system to form new habits. Here’s a good way to form the daily practice of gratitude:
- Cue = You arrive to work and sit down at your desk
- Routine = Write 3 things you’re grateful for
- Reward = Enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea
Follow that technique and you’ll have this daily habit nailed in no time!
7. Recharge with a nap during lunch
We realize most workplaces frown upon desktop napping, so you’ll have to get sneaky about where you catch your Z’s to practice this workplace wellness tip.
Naps have been shown to reduce stress and bolster your immune system…two things that generally tend to be aggravated and weakened in the workplace.
Even a short, 20 minute nap yields tons of benefits…and you can add it to the list of things you do in your trusty old car.
If you have a 45 minute lunch break, here’s a way to get something to eat AND fit in a short nap:
- Use 25 minutes to eat (this is a possible to do if you bring your own lunch to work or have some good places to eat nearby your office)
- Use the other 20 minutes to take a refreshing nap in the passenger seat of your car
You’ll feel alert at work, and that 3 o’clock slump will roll right off you like water on a waxed car.
8. Take the long way
Remember those 10,000 steps a day we mentioned earlier? Well, this workplace wellness habit gets you a little bit closer to that lofty goal.
Park your car in the spot furthest away from the door to the office. This will force you to add a couple extra steps throughout your day.
Those little steps add up as you walk to and from the office, and remember, it’s more than you were doing before. Not to mention the extra walking will give you some more time to clear your mind and set your intentions for the day.
Think about other ways you can use simple hacks like this to add some extra steps to your day. Here are some examples:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Only fill your water bottle up 1/4 of the way so you walk to the water cooler a couple of extra times throughout the day
Obviously, riding a bike or taking public transportation would be an even better way to get some exercise in on your way to work, but for many, that’s just not feasible given their commute.
9. Stretch it out
Sitting at a desk and typing for the majority of the day can cause all sorts of aches, pains and strains on your body.
Try the 3 simple stretches below when you feel the pain coming on. They’ll give you immediate comfort and protect against long-term damage.
Stretching also provides a variety of benefits, as reported by Prevention Magazine, that can’t be ignored.
- It speeds up blood-flow throughout the body and makes you feel awake and invigorated
- It might help you increase your balance skills and avoid awkward falls
- It loosens you up to be able to make the most of your workout
- It might help regulate blood sugar levels
Plus, the movement of a special stretch might be just what you need to break up a long session of sitting.
You can do the movements sitting down, and we promise your coworkers won’t judge you—they might just follow your cue and join in!
- Place your left hand over the fingers of your right hand. Bend your wrist down slowly until you feel a light stretch. Hold for about 5 seconds and relax. Repeat 3 times, then alternate to bending upwards.
- Drop your head down slowly towards one shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side. This should release the tension in your head and neck from a day of buildup.
- While exhaling, lean forward, drop your head towards your knees and let your hands drop towards your ankles. Hold for about 5 seconds. Then inhale and bring your head up slowly, reversing the movement you made going down. Repeat 3-5 times. Don’t be alarmed if you hear some cracks and pops—that’s totally normal and totally good.
Bonus Ideas! Here are some other things to consider when you want to stay healthy at work:
- Take regular mindful meditation breaks; mental health is just as important as physical health.
- Eat a serving of fruits or vegetables before you eat anything else.
- Practice controlled breathing to energize yourself and maintain composure
Choosing healthy snacks instead of salty, processed edibles
By implementing just a few of these hacks, you can make it a lot easier for yourself to stay healthy at work. For more ideas on how to stay healthy at work, check out this list of 8 No-Excuse Habits for a Healthier Workday from Total Wellness Health.
What other hacks do you use to ensure you’re being proactive about health in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below.
Great article! It’s so important to rejuvenate with a 5-10 minute walk outside!
Thanks Jenna 🙂
I love napping and I love work… I never thought of combining those 2.
Napping @ Work… I feel like I was just reborn. Thanks!!
This is great content, I love the comment, ‘willpower is overrated, and automate getting up from your seat’.
Glad you agree about my willpower statement!
Make ALL sources linkable!
Hi Irritated Guest 🙂
Here are all source links from the infographic:
I like the tip about parking farther away. Instinctually, I think we all try to find the closest parking spot, often driving around just to find a spot that is a few spots closer. Every step counts and this is an easy way to get a few extra steps in!
You got it. Whether we’re going to the super market or into the office, people always want the closest spot to avoid walking a bit more. A super simple hack but when you do it over the course of let’s say a year, it could easily add some miles to how much you walked that year.
Love Love Love! Printed this out and put it by the copier!
Just set up my Google Calendar to remind me to get up and move! Brought my walking shoes for a lunchtime walk today.
Awesome Jodi! Glad this post was able to inspire you to get some more walking in throughout your day.
I always try to get out for a walk during lunch, I don’t know how some people can stay cooped up in the office all day.
Hey Wes, I completely agree 🙂 I need some sunshine/fresh air at least a couple of times each day.
We have a couple of serial lunch nappers at work, and I myself and in the “walk and reward with a healthy snack” group. It’s amazing how just a few moments to clear your mind can rejuvenate you and keep you productive, as well as help you stay healthy.
Hey Hannah! I used to be a consistent lunch napper myself. I stretch my legs every 30 minutes and it’s a game changer for my energy level throughout the day.
Good reminders….hydrate, stretch, take a break and move, Hi-5 co-workers and I really like the gratitude exercise. These can make a big difference in your day. Just like in the computer world it is recommended to “reboot” these simple things can “reboot” our productivity. Thanks.
Thank you Jean, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment 🙂
I’m not against any of these things! Except the vitamin c part. I have overdosed on it before and it’s not pretty.
I’m not sure where in this post you saw the mention of vitamin c?
But wow, I didn’t know you there were side effects from taking too much of it. Everything in moderation, right?!
Looking for ways to keep up some office New Year resolutions and found your great post. Thank you!
No problem Jenny, I’m happy this post was able to help you out.
Great reminders. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day work, so these are good tips!
great article, very informative and accurate information
Hey Melissa, thanks for the kind words
Most of our waking hours are spent in the workplace. Don’t let your work environment diminish your health for eight hours of the day. Great article.
Thanks Insyspay, I appreciate the feedback!
A 20 minute nap can make a complete difference in how the afternoon goes. Been doing this for years.
I used to take a 20 minute nap during lunch almost everyday. I don’t take the quite as often anymore, but they’re a fantastic way of recharging in the middle of the day.
Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!
Think these are all valid points that can truly help with productivity and happiness in the office. I will have to propose a nap station for us!
Hey Ashley, good luck! That would make the Rocksauce Studios office even cooler 🙂
This is great! I’m adding the calendar reminders today and am so excited to share this with my co-workers. I especially appreciated #6 positive psychology – it’s good to be motivated by a positive attitude when you start each day. Thanks!
Hi Chelsey, thank you for passing our tips along to your team! Let me know how those calendar reminders work out for. You can also opt for reminders on your phone if that works better for you.
We have a great patio that we are able to go out and just enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Being inside all day can be dragging. But a few minutes, or lunch break outside, is a nice way our employees like to rejuvenate.
Hey Morgan, thanks for your insightful tip on how your office rejuvenates throughout the day! We also have a patio at our office that our team hangs out at when the weather is nice.
A nap at work? I wish… Do love the hydration benchmarks though!
Hi Denali, taking a nap at work isn’t for everyone 🙂
Totally agree! We have an office in Spain so think “siestas” are necessary globally! Staring at the computer even for an hour at a time can be a bore!
Hi Elizabeth, I’m a huge fan of getting away from my desk at least once every hour. Good way to recharge a bit and avoid eye strain.
These were great! Definitely going to start doing more high-fives.
Hi Mika, high-five to that!
Awesome Article. I am going to make sure and do the high fives! Had no idea about this one. Also I agree the U.S. needs to do siestas or 4 day work weeks for better health.
There has been a lot of debate about those studies that claim 4-day workweeks are more productive, but definitely an interesting concept.
I’m going to start handing out way more high fives!
Hey Melanie, thanks for pointing that one out. People often forget how important the mind is for the health of your body 🙂
Thank you for posting this. I shared it with our workplace.
Hi BreAnne, thanks for passing it along to your coworkers. I hope it helps them improve at least 1 thing about their workday!
Good article and ideas I think would work in my office. I started printing these out and will add them to the bulletin board.
Thanks Heidi, you’re awesome!
I routinely high-five co-workers when we pass in the hallways; if it’ll be a left hand high-five, it usually takes a bit of concentration from both of us, and ALWAYS results in a smile or laugh. Happy to see high-fives included here! Keep up the great work.
Thanks Erin! Ambidextrous high-fiving is an enviable skill 🙂
We already encourage most of your 9 tips here at Amplifinity. We have a 3pm group walk outside along the river every day. Group activities work.
Hey Susie, you’re absolutely right. Participation in healthy activities is much higher when you can get a group together. It makes it a lot more fun too!
Thanks Lauren 🙂
I printed this out and posted it in our break room. I need my coworkers to get healthy like I am.
Christi, you = awesome. I hope your coworkers found it useful and implement at least one of these simple healthy hacks.
Great ideas! I’m going to print this out and post it in the kitchen bulletin board.
Hey Erin, great to hear. Let us know what your coworkers think about these tips.
I passed these tips along though we already encourage some of them through an employee rewards program.
Hi Sherrie, I’m interested to learn more about this rewards program. Can you tell us more? How does it work and what do some of the rewards look like?
Great piece. We have implemented a number of these with our sales team here at our corporate headquarters. Loving the wellness is the key to motivation!
Hey Aaron, right on!
Great article! I’m going to try to get better about getting out of my desk chair once an hour and drink more water.
Hey Lauren, that’s a great goal to set for yourself! Let us know how it goes.
I set a timer on my phone to remind me to drink at least one 20 oz bottle of water by 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm, this way i know I’m getting hydrated.
Hey Jessica, that’s another great hack! I’m a huge fan of phone reminders. I’ve started using them for just about everything. I even had a reminder @ 9pm every night to shut down all electronics, but that was unfortunately short-lived.
I loved this article! I didn’t think about parking further away to get a few extra steps in! I use a fitbit that helps remind me when I need to get up and move! I will be sure to print these tips out and share them with my co-workers.
Hi Michelle, wearables are great – our team uses Jawbone Up. Also make for some fun steps challenges 🙂
Great article! I’d love the info-graphic in poster form to hang in my office. We have wellness rooms that have reclining chairs. They have no windows so it gets nice and dark for a lunchtime nap. I plan on including this information in new-hire orientations. Thanks!
Hey Heidi, email me (emils[at]snacknation.com) and I can send you this infographic as a PDF stretched out over a couple of pages that you can cut and tape together to make a poster.
This is awesome! These are all really simple things that you can easily filter into your daily routine. I plan on sharing this with our office.
Hey Christy, awesome to hear you’ll be sharing this with the office. Let us know what changes you notice around the office 🙂
Great Healthy work hacks! I need to try the water bottle one!
Thanks Kelley, would love to hear how that hack works out for you
Great article! I have always been an advocate for drinking lots of water but I wish I could get away with napping at work.That is a hard one when you are in an open office space. I don’t drive to work so I have no car to sneak away in but I love the idea!
Hey Chrissy, a lot of others have commented wishing they could take naps at work as well. Not having a car definitely makes it tough. If there’s an empty room in your office, that is a potential napping spot.
Great advice! Love the gratitude exercise idea! I think I might print this out and post it on our board in the kitchen!
Valerie, that would be an awesome idea. I think your coworkers would love it. I know I’m a little biased when I say that having created the infographic, but nonetheless… great idea!
This is a great article. I wish our office could implement nap time but we have a few employees who would not agree with the idea, and take it for laziness… maybe down the road it is something we can implement.
Hey Shelly, napping has been the hack most people are having trouble implementing. I agree it may not be for every office. However, if you take a nap in your car, you don;t have to worry about what others in your office might think of you. Plus, when you come back into the office refreshed and finish your afternoon strong, I think people will start asking you what your secret is 😉
Great stuff here, i’ll print and put this at my desk! 🙂
For number three, I would suggest fist bumps. Even less likely to spread germs.
Most of the suggestions are part of my daily living, but knowing I’m doing the right thing feels good and the reminder was great! I wish more people can implement your suggestions to their daily living! Have a great day!!
This a great article.So many reasons and clarification of all the reasons.Very impressive and informative writing. This info helps me a lot.
I just love this advice collection. Health is something we regularly neglect, this article is a great reminder what is important. Stretching is really useful, I do that as well during my daily work. Having a nap is a bit difficult but I can imagine it can be really helpful. I wish I’d be a better sleeper. 🙂
Thanks for this great article!
Yes! It’s great to take a break from sitting all day!
Great tips for staying not only healthy but alert and feeling fresh. In these days of the Coronavirus, it’s also important to keep those hands clean!