Even if you work out over weekends, if you’re tucking into takeout and sitting most of the day at work, your office could make you fat…

As temperatures drop, so does gym attendance while cravings for winter comfort food rise.

It’s the curse of winter and the unhealthy air that can be compounded in offices, thanks to sedentary jobs and tempting office vending machines.

What’s so bad about a season of sloth?

Well, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), it can increase our risk for life-threatening chronic diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

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The good news is that 80% of heart disease and strokes are preventable and all it takes is a few lifestyle changes.

5 Ways to boost your health at work

It’s easy to start the week with healthy intentions but as the workload piles up and stress levels rise, they can soon be forgotten.

Of course, it’s tempting when a birthday cake is shared and colleagues offer to pick up take-out lunch, but that’s not the real reason that working in an office can make us fat and sick – it’s a lack of planning.

Since it’s Corporate Wellness Week (2 – 6 July), let’s plan to put a few new healthy habits to work:

1. Pack lunch

Save your waistline and some cash by packing a healthy lunch, instead of splurging out on daily takeouts.

It could be as simple as a whole-wheat sandwich and a salad or leftover roast veg and chicken from last night’s dinner.

2. Step it up and walk it out

Opt for the stairs instead of the lift – it’s a great way to work towards the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of physical exercise per week.

Make it a habit to take a walk during your lunch break, especially if your job requires you to sit most of the day.  If you don’t like the outdoor surroundings, join a nearby gym where you can either jump on a treadmill or take a yoga-, Pilates- or dance class.

Not only is this a great way to sneak in some exercise, but regular exercise can help you unwind, feel energised, and has even been found to slow down ageing.

Related: Sitting health risks: It’s bad for your brain

3. Drink up

Aim to drink close to eight glasses of water a day. If you find it hard, try infusing water with pieces of fresh fruit.

4. Power snack

Pack in a few power snacks to keep you going throughout the day.

Fresh fruit, unsweetened yoghurt, unsalted nuts and fresh cut veggies with hummus, are all great snacks to help you fight the urge to hit the vending machine.

5. Have a little LOL

It’s amazing how sharing a good laugh with colleagues can change an office atmosphere in an instant.

Sharing a joke now and then can help lighten the mood and boost morale. It’s also a great stress reliever.

Related: How to fight depression in the workplace

Inspire your crew

If you want to share healthy inspiration in your office, start a lunchtime walking group or take turns making healthy lunches with colleagues.

The HSFSA can also help as they offer an Employee Wellness Programme which includes health education presentations and full or tailored health risk assessments. For more information, visit www.heartfoundation.co.za

Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa

Related: Sick Building Syndrome: Is your office making you ill?