By Emily McLaughlin
I now have a full-time job.
What?! First, I was busy graduating and now I am busy … working. May was one of the most memorable months of my 22 years and June has brought so much change. I started my Assistant Site Editor position at TechTarget in Newton last Monday. I was welcomed with a new laptop, my own cubicle, a cozy sweatshirt and a mug full of chocolate. #SOLD. In addition to these awesome gifts, every person I have met at TT has been so welcoming, helpful and friendly.
While I have only been working for a week and a half thus far, I have already come to realize how unhealthy office life can be. First, there is usually a lengthy commute–unless you live near by. For me, it can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to get to and from work depending on traffic. All this sitting and inactivity is not conducive to your cardiovascular health–although, my right calf muscles are really shaping up from the constant stop and go. Second, I see many of my co-workers work through lunch instead of getting up from their desk and socializing. Even if they do take an out-of-office lunch break, this is typically the only time they get up from their desk. Next, many of us keep snacks at our desk–for me this is especially problemsome. With snacks an arms-reach away… sometimes you just can’t help it. Thanks to the lovely team TT, I went through a mug of chocolate last week (this isn’t necessarily a complaint). Last, long days make for tired employees. Fitness isn’t always a priority for people in the office setting because it takes up even more of the day.
BUT… it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of small changes the full-time employee can make to improve their health overall.
For some people, the long commute is inevitable. Whether you are driving, carpooling or taking the train, you are most likely sitting for an extended period of time. There isn’t much you can do about your body’s mobility while in a moving vehicle, however you can take some precautions to make your commute a little healthier–and safer. Pick a radio station or an iPod playlist that is going to keep you awake. Choose music or talk radio that will keep you entertained and put you in a good mood.
Also, get in the mind-set that your commute will indeed be a long one, accidents are just accidents and that it is not the end of the world if you are late to work. Don’t stress yourself out–because there is no way of escaping the traffic.
Lastly, before you leave the house pack a healthy snack for the drive. This will keep you from stopping at that fast food chain on the way to or from work. I’ll usually bring an apple or a snack bag full of blueberries to keep me occupied and satisfied.
Lack of desk breaks
I try to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and move around a little. Sometimes I will take a walk to fill my water bottle, grab a mug of tea or throw something away (even though I have a trash can at my desk). If I don’t necessarily need to get anything, I will sometimes stand to clean up or organize papers.
The most important break you can take during the day is definitely your lunch break. Head to the local café, coffee shop, lunch room, outdoor patio or a friend’s desk–anywhere away from your own cubicle is great! Fresh air, good conversation and time away from the computer screen will be rejuvenating.
With snacks in my file cabinet draw, sometimes I just can’t resist. My first solution to this problem is… make sure they are healthy snacks. After going through all the chocolate TechTarget gave me, I stocked my drawers with nuts, fruit and tea. With lunch, I usually pack snack veggies with some hummus. The key here is to pick hydrating (fruits, veggies) and protein-packed (hummus, nuts) snacks that will fill you up. Fiber-filled snack items are also important to have around.
Long days, no fitness
There are a number of solutions for this problem. Just like you fit work into your day, you need to fit physical activity somewhere in there. Try it all–the morning, afternoon and evening. If the morning really isn’t your thing, take 30 minutes at lunch time to go for a walk or run. If your office has a gym, use that. Exercising in the afternoon will give you the boost you need to get through the rest of the day.
Working out after a long day at work is extremely difficult. What helps me get there is packing a bag with gym clothes and a power bar. The YMCA is on my way home–so with the bag in tow, I have no excuse not to stop.
Get healthy for you. Stay healthy for you. Be happy. :)