The average American sits for 13 hours out of the day and sleeps for eight, for a total of 21 hours of inactivity. And a whopping 86% of American workers sit all day, every day. That’s a lot of inactivity. Not surprisingly, given the link between exercise and stress reduction, two thirds of U.S. workers reported high stress levels at their jobs within the past year.
Sedentary work days paired with stress can create an unhealthy environment. But add some healthy activities and stress management into your work routine, and you’ll reduce stress, boost your health, and have more left over for family, friends, and fun.
Make Time to Take a Break
Many of us feel compelled to fit as much work as possible into one day. But taking short breaks throughout the day is a great way to decompress, clear your mind, and be more productive. Reward yourself with occasional mini breaks, go out to lunch with a friend, or plan to take a yoga or spin class break once a week. You’ll feel refreshed and find your focus is much stronger.
Take the Stairs
Whenever possible, opt for the stairs. It’s a simple solution to add more activity to your day and gets you closer to meeting the recommended daily fitness requirements (at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day). Don’t have stairs? Volunteer for errands outside of your workplace or work area.
Take a Nap
You read that right. Taking short naps (15–20 minutes) can actually boost your productivity, make you less sluggish, increase your critical thinking, and help you sleep better at night. It may be difficult to convince your boss, but studies have proven cat naps are an easy way to rejuvenate the body and mind—just make sure you don’t go over 30 minutes. Longer naps actually have the reverse effect and can make you even more tired, delayed, and less productive. If napping at work feels too taboo, consider grabbing a quick snooze in your car during lunch.
It’s easy to slouch during the workday, but this habit is incredibly bad for our bodies. Slouching can lead to back issues, soreness, aches, and pains, and can make it more difficult to get out and exercise once work is over. To avoid feeling rigid or hurting yourself, make a point of sitting properly. Sit upright and keep your feet flat on the floor in front of you, arms tucked near your body with your elbows resting between a 90-and 120-degree angle. If you begin to feel stiff, get up, stretch, and take a short walk to keep yourself limber.
Fidget a Bit
Even though we’re told to stop fidgeting when we’re kids, throw that mantra out the window as an adult. Fidgeting is a great way to work in a little fitness during the day. Tap your feet (as long as you’re not bothering your co-workers), get up and walk to the water cooler, do a few laps up and down the stairs, or stretch your arms and legs. The more you move, the better you’ll feel.
Leave Work at Work
Unless it’s absolutely necessary to keep working once the workday is over, don’t. Leaving work at the office will reduce your stress, get you ready to start the next day fresh, and put you in a better mood. The result? Increased vitality, fewer aches and pains, and a better chance you’ll greet each workday morning with a smile.
While you may sometimes feel like you’re chained to your desk, in most cases (we hope!) you’re not. It’s important for your health to get up, move around a bit, relax when you feel stressed, and develop better habits during work to maintain a healthy life balance.