Simple ways to boost your workplace wellness with bite-sized activities for your body and brain.
We spend around one third of our lives at work. That’s an eye-opening stat. For most of us, that means around 90,000 hours will be spent at our desks, in meetings, on shift or doing whatever the job entails.
It’s no surprise that workplace habits – especially those to do with food and movement – can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. From long periods of sitting, to high-calorie on-the-go snacking, working routines can be bad for our health.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of small, simple things you can do to make your working hours healthier, happier, and better for your body. And with growing numbers of employers putting “fitness in the workplace” high on the agenda, you won’t be alone.
The big benefits of fitness in the workplace
Forward-thinking employers actively give their staff the benefits of fitness in the workplace. This might be a corporate fitness program, access to discounted gym membership, or in-house benefits like walking breaks and healthy foods.
There are so many reasons to foster a culture of health and fitness in the workplace. Employees who are able to look after their physical and mental health at work tend to be happier, more productive, more creative, and need less time off for ill health or chronic pain.
10 ways to make your work day healthier
Whilst it’s every employer’s responsibility to provide access to health and fitness benefits in the workplace, there’s plenty you can do, too. Here are 10 small ways you can make your work day healthier.
1. Quick healthy breakfast options
Starting the day on a cup of coffee and half a glass of water isn’t the right way to fuel your mind or your body. Find a couple of quick and easy breakfast options that give you the protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and micronutrients you need. Overnight oats (oats, yoghurt, frozen berries mixed up the night before and left in the fridge) work well. Scrambled eggs, mushrooms and spinach in a pitta or wrap is a great choice. If you’re really pressed for time, a protein shake and a piece of fruit will hit the spot.
2. Get hydrated and stay hydrated
Dehydration can quickly lead to brain fog and tiredness, and can even cause you to overeat if you mistake thirst for hunger. Drink some water before you leave for work, and try to keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. Tea and coffee are fine, but it’s important to drink non-caffeinated drinks as well.
3. Get up and move
Studies show that sitting for longer than 60 minutes is detrimental to your posture, circulation, calorie burn, and may even contribute to long term health risks. Try to get up at least once every hour for a minute or two. You don’t need to do star jumps in the middle of meetings. A quick stretch or a walk across the room is enough.
4. Easy desk exercises
Combat all that sitting down with simple desk exercises. Rotate your ankles and flex your feet. Pull your shoulders back and down. Roll your neck slowly from left to right. Stretch your arms out to the side, and move your spine to stretch your upper back and chest. These quick exercises can improve your circulation, reduce stiffness, and help you feel more energised at your desk.
5. Champion walking meetings
Whenever possible, opt for walking meetings. This builds much-needed physical activity into your work day, and can also stimulate creativity and problem solving. If your workplace doesn’t already promote walking meetings, why not be the person who leads the way?
6. Healthier food choices
Healthy eating at work can be tricky, especially if your choices are limited to the daily sandwich trolley or the local shop. You have two options: learn to make the healthiest choices, or bring your own to work. Avoid quick-fix choices like pastries, biscuits, cakes, sweets, and crisps. Opt for meals that are high in lean protein and contain some vegetables. If possible, keep work-friendly snacks like nuts, fruit, protein yoghurts and mini babybels in the office.
7. Workstation ergonomics
Make sure your workspace is ergonomically friendly to minimise aches and pains. Common issues like lower back pain and neck pain can make work miserable, or even lead to time off work. Ask your employer to help ensure your chair, desk, monitor, and keyboard are set up properly. If you work from home, make sure your set up is just as ergonomic as it would be in the office. No more working from the kitchen table!
8. Reap the benefits of corporate fitness programs
If your workplace offers a corporate fitness program, make the most of it. Hopefully your employer has a flexible fitness benefit that allows you to engage in fitness at multiple locations and to suit your shift pattern. You don’t have to be a gym fanatic to get the benefits from a corporate fitness program. Find a workout style that suits you (or try a few to find out) then try to exercise a few times a week.
If you’re an employer, have you considered offering your employees discounted access to fitness as an employee benefit? Elevate employee wellbeing with Hussle’s flexible corporate gym memberships.
9. Manage stress in and out of work
Stress is an inevitable part of having a job, but when you can manage job-related stress you’ll be healthier and happier around the clock. There are lots of stress management techniques to try, from on-the-spot ideas like breathing exercises and mindfulness, to yoga or journalling. Find what works for you.
10. Promote a healthier workplace culture
Most employers are aware of the importance of health and fitness benefits in the workplace. You can be part of building a better corporate culture by engaging with corporate fitness benefits, suggesting ideas to management, and even offering to lead on initiatives like walking groups, wellness ambassadors, or fitness challenges. Companies that prioritise employee health and wellbeing see the benefits in improved employee morale, reduced absenteeism, and better team dynamics.
Wellness in the workplace for work/life balance
We all have to go to work, but it’s great to know there’s a lot you can do to make the work day healthier. Small switches in how you eat, move, and stay active at work can make all the difference to your physical and mental wellbeing at work – and might even have profound, positive impacts on your career in the long term.