Whittle (Your Waist) While You Work
Believe it or not, there are a number of things you can do to make your workplace, well, work for you. Use this 8-to-5 guide from Bob Greene and TheBestLife.com to stick to your diet and stay healthy.
Folks who wear comfy clothes and shoes to work take an average of 491 more steps a day than their dressed-up, high-heeled colleagues, reports a study by the American College of Sports Medicine. Those extra 500 steps add up over the days, weeks and months and can help you drop a few pounds by the end of the year, according to the study's authors.
8:15 a.m.—Lighten Your Load
If your tote or briefcase has become a dumping ground for everything from old magazines to junk mail to kids' toys, it's time to get rid of the extras. A too-heavy bag can cause muscle soreness, nerve compression and back and shoulder pain. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a bag be no more than 10 percent of your body weight. Weigh your bag on the bathroom scale to make sure you're not putting unnecessary strain on your body.
8:30 a.m.—Listen to Music
Turn on some of your favorite tunes on your way into work—whether you're driving in the car or riding the bus or train. Researchers from Seattle University found that the rhythms in music relax blood vessels and moderate the production of stress hormones, helping to lower blood pressure. The study looked at classical music, but whatever music makes you happy should do the trick.
Skip the cigarette, take the break
Set an alert on your computer (if you don't have calendar software like Outlook, the website TheSitetoRember.com will send you free emails) to remind yourself to stop and stretch your arms, neck, upper back and shoulders for a couple of minutes. You'll reduce pain, prevent headaches and reduce the occurrence of migraines, reports a study out of the University of Turin in Italy.
10 a.m.—On the Phone? Stand Up
Get out of that swivel chair! The more activities you do while standing up, the better, says Dr. James Levine, a scientist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His research has found that standing boosts your calorie burn by about 50 calories for each half hour you would have been sitting. Levine has even developed gadgets like a slow-moving "treadmill desk" and office "skates" to encourage workers to move more throughout the day.
But simply standing while talking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to co-workers to deliver messages instead of shooting off an email will all boost your calorie burn throughout the day.
Noon—Eat Lunch with a Healthy Co-worker
There are plenty of reasons to leave your cubicle for noontime noshing (uh, do you really want to spend more time surrounded by three gray walls or pick crumbs out of your keyboard?), but here are three biggies. First, people who eat while they're distracted—surfing the Web, checking email—consume an average of 40 percent more than those who take a break and focus on enjoying their meal, according to research by Dr. Brian Wansink, a behavioral eating scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Brian Wansink's 7 ways to eat mindfully
Second, making a social connection relieves stress and may help improve cognitive skills, according to a University of Chicago study. Finally, experts agree that eating with a pal who is health-conscious strengthens your own resolve. You're less likely to go to an unhealthy fast food joint if your lunch buddy is set on finding a great salad spot.
End today...and get ready for tomorrow
Pause for a minute and take a look at the outside world. Researchers at University of Washington in Seattle found that when study participants viewed the outdoors, their heart rates decreased by up to nine beats per minute—and their pulses fell twice as fast after a stressful situation—compared to those who looked at blank walls or digital images of nature scenes.
5 p.m.—Ban Gadgets from the Bedroom
If possible, leave work at the office and use your evening hours to relax, get in a workout or cook a healthy dinner. Have to squeeze in some work time? At the very least, try to avoid using your computer or answering emails close to bedtime. They can upset your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep, according to a Japanese study. The monitors' bright displays inhibit production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for telling the body it's time for bed. Plus, typing away can elevate your heart rate and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Banking a solid night of shut-eye will make it easier to power through your sweat session and resist using food to fight fatigue the next day.
For more healthy-eating advice, check out TheBestLife.com.
How do you stay fit at the office? Share your comments below.
Bob Greene's tips for getting fit as a family
Dr. Oz's plan for your ultimate beautiful day
Are you the office hunchback? Solve your neck and shoulder pain
Don't get up! 5 exercises you can do at your desk