For most office employees, working at a desk for eight or more hours a day is unavoidable. But as many Americans now know, spending all that time glued to your seat can really take a toll on your physical and mental health.
"In an office environment, you spend most of your working hours sitting in meetings or in front of a computer screen," said Jamie Russo, chief of work and wellness at co-working office space Enerspace. "Aside from the physical hazards of sitting — such as the increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer — there's a productivity benefit to giving yourself a mental break. It's so important to unchain yourself from your desk and give your body and mind a chance to recover."
Encouraging a culture of wellness in the office begins with its leaders, said Russo. "Walking the walk" at work each day (figuratively and literally) can inspire your employees to do the same. [3 Ways to Improve Your Company Culture]
"Leaders should take walks around the office, make use of the company gym and eat lunch in the cafeteria rather than at a desk," Russo advised. "A company may spend money on employee wellness programs, but if its leadership isn't sending the message that it's OK to take a gym break or have a walking meeting, then it's wasted money."
Russo, along with business furniture company turnstone, suggested these six simple ways to start improving your health and wellness at work today:
Diversify your posture throughout the day. There are plenty of ways to stay active during the workday and offset some of the damage done by sitting all day. Swap out your regular chair for an active seat like a yoga ball for a few hours, or spend a portion of the day working at a height-adjusted standing desk. You can also walk while you're taking your next conference call, to give you a physical and mental change of pace.
Get up and talk to co-workers. Every few hours, walk around and talk to a different person for 10 to 15 minutes.Not only will these short breaks improve circulation and reduce eyestrain and buildup of muscle tension, but they'll also help you foster better relationships with employees, and might spark fresh ideas.
Purposely leave your brown bag at home. A packed lunch is often healthier and less expensive than take-out alternatives, but once in a while, force yourself to go out and pick up lunch to get away from your desk.
Run errands during your workday. If your schedule allows for it, save quick errands — like depositing a check at the bank — for work hours. You'll get some fresh air and a mental break from the task at hand, and you can cross off the task from your after-work to-do list.
- Close your eyes and breathe. Meditation is becoming a more popular way to stay focused and reduce stress at work. Sneak in 10 deep breaths while you're getting your morning coffee or even at your desk when you put the phone down after a call.
Originally published on Business News Daily.