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The internet is full of guides to getting and staying active, but most have one thing in common: they assume you have hours of free time. Not everybody does. Between work, commute, meal prep, and maintaining a home and family, most people don't have the sprawling, open schedule observed by fitness gurus and social media influencers. When eight hours a day are spent in an office, hunched in front of a computer, we need to find a way to make those eight hours meaningful sources of activity.
The benefits of fitness and proper diet are well-documented, but staying healthy also has many advantages at work:
Just about every workplace uses the break room to bring people together over food. It's a great way to keep up with your coworkers, but it's easy to lose track of your healthy diet in a social environment. Some basic substitutions can prevent office snacking from dragging your health and energy down.
Meals: Skip the pizza and wings when you want to cater a meal for your coworkers. Try sandwiches (subs, wraps, paninis), soups, and salads for healthy meals with plenty of variety. There are also plenty of potential options for burritos, noodle bowls, and pastas out there.
Office Snacks: Everyone loves the person who brings in donuts or cookies, but there's plenty of satisfying options that don't involve a bakery. Try fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, string cheese, granola and protein bars, trail mix, yogurt, dark chocolate, whole grain crackers, and alternate types of chips (pita, baked apple, zucchini, kale, or beet; as well as potato chips cooked in sunflower, avocado, or coconut oil).
A workplace is inherently communal, and fitness can bring people together to have fun and get to know each other better. And exercise feels much less intimidating and more inviting when you have people to share it with. You don't have to be the boss to propose a health initiative at work! Here are some ideas:
Fitness Clubs: Many offices have sports or exercise clubs. Walking clubs are easy to establish and maintain -- all you need is some good weather or a large building, and you have the opportunity to put together a group walk at lunchtime. Intramural sports such as basketball, softball, or kickball are also popular in many workplaces.
Fitness Challenges: A friendly competition with prizes is a great way to keep people invested in activity. We'd suggest staying away from weight loss goals, which can be dangerous approached without medical oversight, but a fitness tracker that counts and logs your daily steps can help everyone map their progress.
Do It for Charity!: Nearly every region offers plenty of charity fitness challenges, like walks, mud runs, and bike rides. Get your company involved and raise money for a good cause!
Outdoor Activities: Propose a plan to get employees outdoors on a regular basis. Company picnics, outdoor walking meetings, or even a company garden can help a staff stay active while coming together as a well-coordinated team.
Gym Memberships: A company membership at a local gym or fitness center, or company-sponsored employee discounts at a businesses like this, is not only a useful way to help employees stay active, but also a great incentive for prospective employees.
Pressed for space or time? There are ways you can adapt your office to keep everyone healthy despite small cubicles and a packed schedule.
Weekly Fitness Day: Some companies have begun to set aside 30 minutes each week on a particular day to allow employees to get exercise. It raises morale and makes staying active rewarding. Who wouldn't want to clear their head for a half hour to go for a walk or bike ride?
Onsite Gyms: You don't have to be a multinational company! Guides online can show you how to create an onsite gym on a reasonable budget. You don't need the most sophisticated equipment -- just some extra space will do.
Indoor Activities: Guides online can show you exercises that you can do at your desk without disrupting coworkers. Why not also get in the habit of stretching before meetings and after breaks? Keeping your body moving will boost your energy and productivity.
Alternative Desks: A sedentary lifestyle can be even more dangerous than smoking for one's health. One of the biggest trends in corporate space over the past few years has been the convertible desk, which can be adjusted for both standing and sitting. Many people also use an exercise ball to improve core strength while sitting at their desk.
Posture and Ergonomics: Proper sitting posture will help avoid wear on your joints and bones, as well as eye strain. Ergonomically correct chairs and keyboards will help avoid repetitive stress injuries. Teach your staff and coworkers how to keep their workspace comfortable and easy on their bodies.Meditation Programs: Implementing a workplace meditation program is a great way to help everyone reduce stress and keep a workplace's culture positive and relaxed.