Healthy Desk Habits for Long Days

Staying on track with our wellness goals can sometimes hit a roadblock when we’re confined to our desk. Things are different when you can break up your day with long walks or a stop at the gym. But that isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do—even with a desk job—to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Easy Workday Movement Goals

When your work predominantly takes place at a desk, it’s important to have the best setup possible. This means usually means getting a more ergonomic office chair and making sure your computer and desk are positioned at the right height. Of course, those investments won’t work as a cure-all for long desk days. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on some other goals first.

It’s important to realize that you can still go after your movement goals even if you’re focused on the computer for the majority of the day. You might not always be able to step outside for a quick stroll during a lunch break, but other light exercise is still possible. And you can start small with micro-breaks. Multiple sessions of 30 seconds to a couple minutes will really add up.

A few simple desk exercises can help you relax and stay limber even on your busy days. If you want to improve your posture, you can try adding in some shoulder squeezes or overhead arm reaches. Then you might progress to doing a handful of lunges at different times during your work day. This will open up your hip flexors and hopefully make things more comfortable while you’re sitting.

Another way to get some extra movement is to take phone calls standing up. Making this a rule for yourself can remind you to pace in your office during conference calls. It’s a pretty easy way to stretch your legs and get some extra steps.

Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Desk

Along with your movement goals, it’s a good rule of thumb to eat your lunch away from your desk. Then you’ll be giving yourself a true break from work, and can either go on a walk or just get a change of scenery. But there will undoubtedly be times when you need another type of energy boost to stay productive. Sometimes that means coffee or tea. Other times, you just need a good snack.

Some of the best snacks for work are the ones that have a long shelf-life. Dried fruit can stay good for weeks and works as a great sweet snack. You can mix things up with dried apricots, dates, or even dried apples. Freeze-dried options for strawberries and other fruits will work if you want a little crunch. And if you need something with spice, you can always grab some wasabi peas.

For protein, you might go with raw nuts, like almonds or cashews. You could also spread some nut butter on a rice cake or banana. Low-sodium jerky is another great snack to keep on hand. If you need something a little more filling, you might turn to plain oatmeal. It’s easier to limit your calories when you keep your desk drawer stocked with healthy options—but it’s okay to indulge in moderation. Having a little dark chocolate tucked away can certainly be a nice treat.

Keep Your Work at the Office

Work has its time and place. But when you’re out of the office, it’s important to establish some healthy boundaries. Do you really need to check work emails after your business hours? Or to take work home with you for a “second shift?” Having some systems in place to keep your work separate from your personal life can go a long way for your overall health and wellness. Limiting stress is always better.

There will always be some overlap between your workday and your other activities. It’s normal, and it’s not always bad. For example, your fitness goals outside of the office might motivate you to add in some other quick exercises every hour you’re at your desk. The benefits you get from good posture and healthy work snacks will also impact your life outside of the office. When you develop good habits, you should see benefits in every aspect of your life.