Stay Fit and Healthy While Working

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Recent studies have shown that sitting for more than four hours a day can take up to two years off your life. Since most of us spend a large portion of our day behind a desk, this statistic is a particularly scary one. Prolonged sitting can also lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, deep-vein thrombosis, back pain and even cancer. On top of that, unhealthy diets and long hours in the office have the tendency to cut into exercise time, resulting in a poor digestive system and even obesity. Here are some simple exercise methods you can incorporate into your daily routine to help keep healthy in the workplace:

  • Use the stairs, rather than an escalator or elevator whenever you can to keep the blood circulating and help concentration.
  • Don’t neglect your posture in front of the computer. Your back should be straight, with your shoulders back and the top of your monitor should be at eye level. Most back pain experienced by workers is due to poor posture.
  • Take a break every hour to take a short walk around the office. You could try taking the long route to the bathroom, or instead of sending a colleague an email, walk over and have a chat.
  • Do simple stretching exercises for your arms, legs, neck and torso while sitting. Roll your shoulders forwards and backwards, stretch your arms and shoulders and flex your head from side to side to ease tension.
  • Pay attention to your wrist. Make sure they do not lie on the keyboard or mousepad (unless you have a pad with a wrist rest) and roll them clockwise and anti-clockwise every hour or so to help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Keep your legs moving as much as possible to stop “pins and needles” from occuring. Engage in ankle exercises such as drawing circles with your toes in the air to help improve circulation.
  • Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair at your desk to squeeze in some secret exercise time while doing work but use it in moderation, as it is not very supportive for your back.
  • Give your eyes a break from looking at the computer screen. Every 30 minutes or so, scan your office for other objects such as a window, clock or door and focus on that instead. This encourages eye movement and reduces the likelihood of eye irritation and headaches.
  • Do exercises at your desk with the help of a few tools such as a hand gripper when you’re engaging in work that doesn’t involve typing. Squeeze the gripper for a great forearm workout.
  • Keep a bottle of water on your desk and make drinking plenty of water throughout the day a habit.
  • Keep a stash of healthy snacks such as fruit or nuts at your workplace to prevent bad eating habits forming. Yogurt is a good choice as it contains a class of bacteria that helps digestion.

In this age of technology, it is not uncommon for the average working schedule to stretch beyond the traditional 9-5. We are getting less hours of sleep per night due to a lifestyle that often has us checking emails on laptops or Blackberries before going to bed. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on both work performance and working relationships, and has been known to cause memory problems, depression, and a weaker immune system. Here are some quick tips on how to make the most of your rest time:

  • Establish a regular and realistic bedtime schedule, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing, sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom and only use it for sleeping.
  • Avoid working on your laptop in bed; artificial light from your computer screen suppresses the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone, lengthening the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages (including coffee, tea and fizzy drinks) before going to bed.
  • Keep your handphone out of the bedroom or turn it off so it doesn’t disturb you.
  • Deep breathing is a great way to reduce stress and is an effective method of calming your nerves and preparing your body for rest.

Source: The Expat September 2012

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