Your health shouldn’t suffer just because you’re stuck behind a desk. Dr Michael Mol has some tips to help you boost your wellness at work…

Let’s face it, unless your job entails some amount of manual labour or you work as a gym instructor, you’re probably stuck behind a desk for most of the day and it’s having an adverse effect on your health.

“Sitting is the new smoking, regardless of how much you train,” says , Dr Michael Mol, Head of Physical Wellness for Multiply and Momentum, “Even if you exercise for the recommended 30-60 minutes each day, if you spend the rest of the day sitting, your risk of diabetes and heart disease is elevated. That’s why prolonged sitting is now considered an independent risk factor, regardless of how active you are.”

How to boost your wellness at work

South African companies are generally behind the curve in terms of employee wellness programmes, so it is up you to look after yourself.

With a bit of lateral thinking, office-bound employees can develop a wellness routine that will not only keep them physically healthy but also mentally sharp, making them more productive and better able to cope with work pressure.

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1. Walk or cycle to work

If you live close to work, consider leaving your car at home and walk or cycle to the office.

This could also work for those who use public transport. Get your Uber or taxi to drop you a few blocks from work and walk the rest of the way.

2. Use a standing desk

We are learning more and more about the adverse effects of sitting all day, so if you have an adjustable desk, you can sit and stand for alternating periods.

3. Dump the office chair

Instead of using a regular chair, get a fitness ball.

This is a great way to work the muscles in your back and legs because you need to balance yourself on the ball as you work.

4. Drink more water

Studies have found that hydration can boost energy levels and brain function, while drinking water can also assist with weight loss.

Forgo the sugary fizzy drinks and make more frequent trips to the water cooler.

5. Cut down on smoke breaks

Too often smokers form their work routine around smoke breaks, rewarding themselves with a cigarette once a task has been completed or sneaking in a quick one before tackling the next item.

Cut down and set yourself a limit of two or three cigarettes during the day. Better still, quit altogether if you can.

6. Fuel your body and mind

Pack a healthy lunch and avoid getting takeout.

Certain foods, such as blueberries, avocados and fish are not only healthy but can boost concentration.

7. Be smart about snacks

It’s easy to snack while sitting at your desk, but avoid the chips and chocolates that will do nothing good for your waistline.

If you like to snack during the day, have something healthy, like fruit and nuts.

8. Exercise at your desk

There are many things you can do in the office that will help you to stay in shape.

Do various exercises right in your chair, such as leg raises and isometrics, which involves contractions of a muscle or group of muscles. Move around as much as possible.

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9.  Exercise during breaks

Instead of sitting down during your breaks, use this time to get some exercise, by going for a walk.

Find a co-worker to join you, it’s more enjoyable and you can motivate each other.