Working in an office – as so many of us do nowadays – isn’t the best for your health. Spending all day sitting down indoors, with little sun or fresh air, can lead to a whole range of health problems. Add to this the convenience of fast food and you have a situation where most people struggle to manage their weight.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of relatively small changes you can make that can prevent your office from being yet another unhealthy workplace, transforming it into somewhere full of happy, nourished and energetic people. Don’t believe us? Why not try out these suggestions?
Add some plants
The air quality in offices tends to be fairly low, with large buildings having poor ventilation. Even if you open all your windows, many workplaces are in city centres, where the air is mostly traffic fumes. You can solve all these problems with the simple addition of a few plants.
Whether you opt for some easy-to-look-after succulents or more tricky flowering plants, the effects will be the same; the plants will absorb the carbon dioxide in your office and turn it into fresh oxygen. The more plants you have, the better the air quality.
In addition, plants tend to have a positive effect on your mental health. Offices can be drab, which isn’t very stimulating. Plants provide a pop of colour that can invigorate your office space, improving your mood and making you more bright, alert and positive.
Have a midday stretch
One of the problems with office work is the sheer amount of time you spend sitting down all day. This can cause problems with weight gain, heart disease and diabetes, as well as leading to poor posture and back problems. You could invest in a standing desk, but failing that a regular stretching session can help.
You can do a full yoga routine if you’re so inclined, or simply stand up and stretch out anything that’s feeling stiff. Focus on your back, neck and shoulders, as these will be the worst affected by the long periods of sitting.
You can start out by just doing this once a day, perhaps at lunchtime, but try to build up to doing it every half an hour or so. If people wonder what you’re doing, you can explain to them the benefits and maybe you’ll spread it around the office. You could even start up a lunchtime yoga group!
Always have healthy snacks on hand
When trying to lose weight, most people think the best thing to do is avoid excess food. However, we’re going to tell you to bring even more food to the office; as long as it’s healthy, that is. Why? To avoid falling victim to the temptation of biscuits, cakes and other sweet treats that are so often part of a standard work day.
Your colleagues are likely to bring in treats like this from home. Maybe your office has a baking rota, or a tradition of people bringing in cake on their birthday. It can be really hard to say no, even if you are on a diet, and this temptation is made even worse if you are hungry.
Having fruit, nuts, fresh vegetables or other healthy snacks on hand will give you an alternative to biscuits and cakes when you are feeling hungry, which will help ease the temptation. If you’re starving and the only thing left to eat is unhealthy, it’s going to be hard to resist. However, if you have an alternative you’ll be able to stay the course.
Introduce walking meetings
Not every meeting needs a PowerPoint presentation or people sat around a table. If you’re honest, how many of your meetings even require anyone to make notes? However, the standard way of discussing anything work-related is to go into a stuffy, enclosed room and sit down.
It doesn’t have to be this way; you can get just as much done while you’re on your feet and moving. Try encouraging your colleagues to go for a stroll with you next time you need to talk to them, instead of booking a meeting room. This will break up your day of sitting, providing you with much-needed exercise and stimulation.
You might find this allows you to have a change of scenery, which can be especially helpful when you need to generate some ideas. It’s hard to be creative when you’re staring at the same beige walls you see every day, but a trip down to the nearest park might provide you with the inspiration you need.