Workday Wellness

By Tim Torres

May 2, 2008 5 min read

WORKDAY WELLNESS

Easy ways to fit health routine into schedule

By Tim Torres

Copley News Service

When your demon work world has you by the throat, you have two options.

One is to shut your eyes tight and begin chanting "serenity now." The other is to remember that all problems will come to pass and that your health is what's most important to you - and any employer worth working for.

Let's face it, what good are you if you're not there at all - or are there but so stressed that you're about to detonate?

Keeping fit and healthy at work is easy, experts say. It takes commitment and a little optimism. A little exercise and proper eating won't make the demons disappear, but with a taut mind and body, you can calmly offer them a tidbit from your candy bowl, with a smile.

WATER

Drink lots of water at work advises Iris Sokol of Fitness Works at Work, a Boston-based fitness training company with several corporate clients.

Get a 32-ounce water bottle, fill it up at the beginning of the day, drink from it and fill it again at lunch, she says. Water hydrates you, seems to relieve stress and makes you eat less, she says. "It's a good habit to get into."

And make sure you wash the bottle each week, she says.

DIET

Bring your own healthy lunch, advises Sokol. "This way you can control the calories you are consuming." Eat a balanced diet of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables - you know the drill. If you have to go out to lunch, avoid high-calorie sandwiches, eat from the salad bar or make other healthy choices, she says.

HYGIENE

Keep your work area clean and germ-free, Sokol says. Avoid sick co-workers and, of course, wash your hands frequently when they are around.

EXERCISE

Taking a walk during your lunch or breaks is "a great way to clear your mind." Deep-breathing exercises at your workstation also reduces your stress, she says.

Overall, think about doing "pockets of exercise" here and there during your workweek, Sokol says. Thirty minutes of that per day adds up to a full health regimen by the end of the week. These activities can be walking, stretching or even strength-work at your desk.

"Every little bit counts when it comes to improving your overall health," Sokol says. "Look at your whole day as an opportunity to improve your health."

To save wear and tear on your wrists, for every 20 minutes at your keyboard take a half-minute off, doing an alternative task, she adds.

ANOTHER INSIGHT

Maybe you need stronger medicine? Cubicle yoga might be your ticket.

This aspect of yoga involves light exercise and deep breathing, says Amy Caldwell, owner and head instructor of YogaOne in San Diego. Taking a few minutes to stretch, breathe and to clear your mind can be very helpful at work, she says. "The practice of yoga is all about being mindful of what's happening each moment."

Her company also has corporate clients. Training seminars are pretty well received, she says.

"Yoga has a nice team-building component to it; and you don't have to be a great athlete to do it," she says.

One easy form to try would be sitting tall at your desk, feet and knees placed correctly and breathing deeply, Caldwell says. Another is a seated posture where you roll your shoulders with your fingers interlaced behind your back. For specific beginner instructions, she recommends going to www.yogajournal.com.

TEAMWORK HELPS

Here are some tips from the American Heart Association to increase your physical activity during the workday.

- Walk around your building for a break during the workday or during lunch.

- Brainstorm project ideas with a co-worker while taking a walk. In fact, a co-worker or a friend that has expressed the same fitness goal is a great motivator.

- Stand while talking on the telephone.

- Walk down the hall to speak with someone rather than using the telephone.

- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or get off a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.

- Participate in or start a recreation league at your company.

- Join a fitness center or Y near your job. Work out before or after work to avoid rush-hour traffic, or drop by for a noon workout.

- Get off the bus a few blocks early and walk the rest of the way to work or home.

And the best advice for surviving your job - take your vacation days.

? Copley News Service

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