Stay Healthy at Work: 5 Ways to Stay Active and Focused

A long day at work can be bad for your physical and mental health. Your body gets stiff, your heart rate slows down and your mind can quickly wander – which makes it hard to focus on your job.

To make matters worse, if your work happens mostly behind a desk, you may have a higher risk of obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels. In fact, one study found that individuals who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity have the same risk of dying as obese individuals or smokers.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to help combat the negative health impact of sitting all day: Get up and move. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults, age 18-64, get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, running, swimming or bicycling every week, as well as muscle strength training at least twice a week. While this may seem like a big commitment, it becomes more achievable when you spread your activities throughout the week and break them down into 10-minutes increments — the perfect amount of time to get up and move around at work.

Discover five time-sensitive ways to be active at work, so you can stay healthy and focused all day long.

1. Make Your Conference Room On the Go

Meetings are inevitable in most workplaces. If you find yourself scheduled in back-to-back meetings, make one of those a walking meeting. Ask your colleagues to do a lap around the building or head outdoors instead of sitting in a conference room. Not only does it get you out of the office, it can recharge your creativity, improve your focus and boost your problem-solving ability.

2. Take the Stairs

Next time you’re going up or down, skip the elevator and take the stairs. Duke University found many benefits of taking the stairs, including:

    • Boosting bone density in post-menopausal women
    • Building and maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints
    • Improving good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood
    • Increasing leg power and muscles

3. Bring Lunch to Work

Bringing your lunch to work has three major benefits. It helps you:

  • Eat healthy
  • Have more energy
  • Save money
  • Save time during your lunch break

If the thought of packing a lunch during a hectic morning seems overwhelming, try a little pre-planning. Make a list over the weekend of what you want to eat for lunch and pick up what you need at the grocery store. Some swear by making all their lunches for the week on a Sunday. But if that seems too time consuming, just plan to make lunches the night before (or at least gather up ingredients you need so they’re on-hand during the morning rush). Or you can pack up the leftovers from dinner to eat the next day. Be sure to plan healthy lunches that include fruits, vegetables, protein or complex carbohydrates to stay focused throughout the day.

4. Sit Up Straight

Posture may not seem like it has much to do with your health, but sitting (or standing) up straight can help improve your range of motion and boost your balance. It can also help improve your focus, making it easier to get through your to-do list at work.

Do a few posture checks throughout the day to make sure you’re sitting correctly. Your:

  • Chin should be parallel to the floor.
  • Knees and feet should be pointing straight ahead.
  • Shoulders, hips and knees should be even.

5. Do Some Desk or Chair Exercises

There’s no need to break out the wristbands or legwarmers with these simple desk and chair exercises:

  • Leg lifts: Lift one leg up straight and hold for two seconds; lower your foot and stop just above the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Switch legs, doing 15 reps on each leg.
  • Neck rolls: Slowly drop your head so your right ear nearly touches your right shoulder. Gently press your head a little lower using the opposite hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Straighten head and repeat on other side.
  • Sit tall: Stretch both arms above the head and hold for 10 seconds. Then, extend the right hand higher, and then the left.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Collins

Caroline Jones Collins, MD, joined Emory at Peachtree Hills in January 2018. Dr. Collins grew up in Snellville, GA, and gained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. She attended Emory University for both medical school and her internal medicine residency. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two children. Dr. Collins is passionate about preventive health and helping patients live healthy, happy lives.



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