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Are you an office couch potato?

07 May 2014 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Sitting all day is terrible for your health.  For many of us, our jobs dictate that we remain sedentary for the best part of the working day.  If this is the case, it’s crucial to find ways to break the monotony and keep yourself firing on all fours from 9 to 5.  How about incorporating some of these healthy ideas into your working day?

1. Get up and move!

Set a reminder on your mobile or your computer to let you know it’s time to stretch your legs.  You need to move for a few minutes every hour at the very least.  Even if this is as simple as getting up to make a drink or fetch something from the other side of the office, make it into a high-energy break.  While you wait for the kettle to boil, run up and down a flight of stairs as many times as you can.  If there are no stairs in the vicinity, do some simple stretches or pop outside (or go somewhere which is relatively quiet) and do a few sets of jumping jacks, lunges and whatever else you can manage to get the blood moving again.

2. Go al fresco

We all reach points during the day when we start to lose focus on the task in hand and start thinking about what’s on TV later or where you’re going to go for dinner.  To reset your flagging mind, why not suggest taking the meeting that’s about to start outdoors.  You can walk and talk at the same time, can’t you? You’ll get fresh air and possibly a little sunshine, you’ll get a change in the group dynamic that might spur creative thinking, and you’ll start to feel more human again. Walking has been shown to boost brain connectivity and function.  Who knows what you might achieve whilst brainstorming out on the open?

3. Add a few flashes of green

Bringing plants into the office will improve the quality of the air and make everyone more productive. Even if you don’t buy into the physiological underpinnings of why plants are good to be around, almost anyone would agree that plants are just nice to look at. A bare room is awful, but stick a big green plant in the corner, and you’ve suddenly changed the vibe of the room to be more positive and welcoming. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

4. Start a healthy snack club

It’s always nice when someone brings in some home baked treats but when they’re packed with large quantities of fat and sugar, you’re heading for a huge afternoon crash in energy levels.  A team high on sugar is low in productivity. Steady blood sugar levels are key to maintaining optimum cognitive function. You can still share afternoon treats - just come to an agreement that they’ll be healthier choices. 

5. Start up a weekly fitness challenge

Suggest some fitness challenges to your colleagues.  The challenges don’t have to really be competitive. You can all pledge to hike for six miles or go for a walk every night or do fifty (or however many you can manage!) press-ups a day.  They can be common goals you all rally around, where the prize is simply completing the goal.

What are your tips for making your workplace a healthier space?

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