With health issues at the office, it’s easy to identify the problem – you’re sitting in a tiny cubicle for eight or more hours every day – and easy to say what you probably should be doing.
However, wandering down the gym every other week and pounding the treadmill is not really going to make you significantly healthier.
What will help, in the long term, is creating a structure that appeals to you, a structure you can follow, and a structure that isn’t too complicated or extreme.
Here are six routes to better health that all office workers can start on today!
1. The Simple But Effective
Image by Katie Brady
Making many tiny incremental improvements is one amazing way of drastically improving your quality of life.
Standing up and stretching every hour, bringing in a two litre bottle of water into work, walking when you can, taking the stairs rather than the lift – these little changes all add up quickly.
Rather than committing to a fad diet, eat the same amount of food but just sub out tons of unhealthy food for healthier food – fruits, vegetables, and fish rather than processed meats.
The best thing about vegetables, of course, is that they’re actually cheaper than meat, so you can save pounds while you lose them.
2. The Enlightened
Image by Nana B Agyei
The enlightened route is a gentle method of achieving better fitness which also encourages frazzled office workers to detach themselves from their day.
It’s good for bolstering mental health as well as supporting your physical health, although you do have to be a bit careful of the mystical side of things – some of the more New Age beliefs can be hard to swallow!
Yoga is a good place to start. Focussed on holding poses, it might not seem like a particularly intense workout. However, by increasing your core strength through sustained poses you are better equipped to take on other tasks (such as, for instance, climbing stairs or lifting heavy objects), so it can have a knock-on effect on your health in other ways, including cardio. Stronger muscles also help with posture, preventing common workplace injuries such as chronic back pain.
Pilates and Tai Chi have similar benefits, but work on different muscle groups in different ways to complement yoga.
3. The Limit Breaker
Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
There’s often a sense that these high energy, low budget, often quite brutal aerobic workouts are not particularly cool. What they are, though, is very effective for a certain kind of person.
If you’re the sort of person who has to plunge headfirst into something, these programs might help you out a lot more than more gentle or incremental exercise regimens, but do be careful not to hurt yourself.
Ultimately, you could even take on a fun challenge like Tough Mudder!
4. The Silicon Valley
Image by Juhan Sonin
Trendy and techy, the efficiency of this route to fitness is not very well-tested. However, the methods are generally designed to have a really low impact on your life – so if you’ve got the money, it could be worth a go.
Stand-up desks are one feature of the health-conscious Silicon Valley office, encouraging better posture and removing some of the health problems associated with sitting down for long periods of time. Treadmill desks take the idea one step further, if you can concentrate on walking and writing at the same time.
For a slightly less expensive option, using an exercise ball at your desk might attract some stairs but it should improve your balance and posture significantly.
The ultimate climbing accessory is, of course, a complete climbing wall. You might find this is a bit out of reach for the average business, though.
5. The Charity Worker
The charity worker route involves throwing yourself into huge fitness-related tasks for charity, and dragging everyone in the office down with you.
Sign up for a 10k run for the animals! Hike through the Amazon for the children! Climb the Matterhorn for the wetlands!
If you sometimes feel a bit guilty about doing things ‘just for yourself’, the charity worker can be a great route into better health. Plus you can genuinely do some good while you’re at it!
6. The Beefcake
Image by Ivan Gabovitch
If you don’t really care about cardio, well, you don’t have to do it. Some exercise is better than no exercise, and we’re confident that more strength will make running and swimming much easier and more appealing.
Focussed on squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups and free weights, the beefcake route sacrifices a focus on all-round well-being for looking strong.
The advantages are that you should still get a better workout than if you do no exercise at all, it’s satisfying to bulk up quickly, and weights and resistance-based workouts are really convenient.
Just picking up a couple of weights or doing some push/pull-ups whenever you feel like it can feel a lot less challenging than planning out an entire routine and entering it all in your diary.
Do What You Want!
The important point about these routes is that they’re all viable ways to feel better. Too many people are put off, thinking that healthy living has to be an onerous chore or all-or-nothing thing – absolutely not!
Healthy living comes from making small changes to your life that you can maintain and keep throughout your whole life, not unmaintainable bursts of gym activity.
Find a route that works for you. You might feel like you’re cheating – but you’ll also feel much better.
Tags: health at work