Healthy Habits in the Workplace To Help Long-Term Goals

January 01, 2019

Worker keeps water bottle on her desk
If you want to know how to prevent health problems, start by making sure you're

Woman working at a computer with a glass of water and water bottle beside it.

Renée Bacher

Your health in the workplace trickles into every other aspect of your life. The steps you take at work to prevent health problems are just as important as the steps you take at home. If you want to implement more healthful habits in your workday, try setting long-term health goals.

Break Bad Habits

Bad habits may not always be easy to break and new habits can be a challenge to form. One study found that it takes people 66 days on average to make a change that actually sticks.

Experts at the National Institutes of Health say there are proven strategies that can set you up for success in changing habits and achieving your health goals. These include:

  1. Creating an awareness around your bad habits, like eating chips while watching TV.
  2. Making a plan with small, reasonable goals. For example, eat a salad every day.
  3. Reframing negative thoughts as they arise. Instead of thinking, "I'll never be able to skip the donuts in the break room for 66 days!" think, "I can skip the donuts in the break room right now and take a walk instead."
  4. Imagining positive changes in your future, like feeling comfortable in your jeans.

Below are some small habit changes you can incorporate into a 9-to-5 office job that can improve your health in the workplace and teach you how to prevent health problems in other parts of your life:

Walk to Work

If you live in a city within walking distance from work, this one is easy. You'll save money on transportation costs and exercise will be built into your day. Even if you live far and take the bus or subway, hop off a stop or two before the office and walk the rest of the way.

No Elevators for You

Unless you work in a high-rise, make a "no elevators" policy and take the stairs every time. If you do work in a high-rise, start getting off the floor before yours and take the stairs from there. Once you're able to do this comfortably, get off two floors before yours, and so on.

Stand Up

Take regular breaks from sitting. Slowly increase the time you stand to take phone calls. If you're fortunate enough to have a standing desk, increase the amount of time you can comfortably work and stand each day. Set timers on your phone to go off throughout the day to remind you to stand.

Pack Your Lunch and Bring it to the Office

Prepping meals at home can give you more nutritious lunch options, and lessen the temptation for high-calorie processed foods at the vending machine or in the break room. On Sundays, cut up firm vegetables, like cucumbers, peppers, carrots and celery, and keep them in a low-calorie marinade in the fridge during the week so they stay fresh and are easy to toss with pre-washed lettuce. Cut up fresh fruit, prep lean proteins and bring them to work in a lunch box.

Move During Your Lunch Break

Get up and move, whether it's an organized chair yoga class in the conference room, or a stroll outside or throughout the building. A little bit every day does make a difference.

Drink More Water

Most of us probably don't drink enough water. Keeping a water bottle on your desk that you refill each time you take a bathroom break can help fix that. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's reasonable to drink eight glasses of water per day to meet your body's needs, but if you exercise regularly or live in a hot climate, you may need more than that. The most important clues that you're well-hydrated are that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is clear or pale yellow.

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