Last year, Nilofer Merchant wrote an essay for the Harvard Business Review where she declared that, “sitting is the smoking of our generation.” In that same essay she cited a study that showed that we average at least 9.3 hours of sitting each day in and outside of work, versus the 7.7 hours we spend sleeping, which is slowly killing us.
If you’re guilty of sitting behind your desk for extended periods of time you’ve probably already felt some of the physical toll that it takes on your body such as a sore back and neck or cramped arms and fingers. Even more terrifying than the immediate physical pain is the increased risk of getting heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and other ailments.
But sitting for long periods of time isn’t the only thing that’s killing us. Because we’re always on the go there are a number of ways that we neglect to take care of ourselves, like eating unhealthy foods because we’re in a rush and skipping the gym.
So as you begin to think about your resolutions for the New Year, consider making small changes to your daily routine that will help you get more active and reduce your risk of future illness. Here are a few small changes you can make to your daily routine to help you start living a healthier lifestyle while you’re at work.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water is one of the simplest changes you can make that will have a huge impact on your overall health. Try buying a 64oz or 72oz (which is what I have*) water jug and take it to work with you. You can fill it up at the office water cooler and keep it at your desk all day.
Get Up and Move at Least Once Every Hour
Above I mentioned some of the health risks that are linked to sitting for long periods of time. You can avoid some of these by making a commitment to get more active throughout your day. Instead of emailing colleagues, walk over to their desk and talk to them, take a quick walk outside to get some fresh air or try Stephanie Mansour’s cubicle crunch workout at your desk.
Ergonomically Customize Your Work Space
Look around your work space. Is it comfortable? Do you find yourself hunched over your computer? Is the lighting so bad that you find yourself squinting? Do you leave the office in pain? If so, you can make small changes that can help alleviate some of these issues. For starters, you can buy, or have your boss order you, a small desk lamp to add additional lighting, add a pillow for your back or neck or raise your laptop to eye level.
For a longer list of expert tips and product suggestions on this topic check out the guide I wrote for Madame Noire.
*h/t to my friend Jasmine for suggesting that I get a large water jug. Best decision!