5 Secrets to Working Healthy Without Leaving Your Desk

After we published a post on the $22 standing desk that can pretty much save your life, I was reminded

After we published a post on the $22 standing desk that can pretty much save your life, I was reminded of another nifty health development: The FitDesk. This “pedaler” for productivity is a compact stationary bike which allows you to exercise while working comfortably—it has a space for you to lock in your laptop.

Dr. Patricia Valdes M.D., a physical therapist and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, says that sedentary behavior is a growing problem in the United States, especially among the working adult population. So what can we do about it? I spoke with Dr. Valdes, and other health experts about simple tweaks to your workday routine that will make you feel better and get healthier:

1) Don’t think you have to do all your work sitting down. Walk or stand during phone chats, and if your job involves a lot of reading, vow to do a certain amount of reading while standing up at a specific time each day.

2) Practice the 20/20/20 rule.  Look at something 20 feet away from your monitor for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This will help your eyes stay healthy and help you avoid computer vision syndrome.

3)  Even if you’re stuck at your desk, don’t forsake good posture and regular movement. Sit up tall, stand up tall and change your  positions regularly. All those little movements can add up to a big difference.

4) Destroy temptation by snacking smart. Feeling hungry but lunchtime’s past? Drink two glasses of water and eat an ounce of nuts (6 walnuts, 12 almonds or 20 peanuts). This can extinguish your craving and dampen your appetite by changing your body chemistry, says Michael F. Roizen, MD.

5)  And of course, modify your environment to promote good health. This can be achieved through innovations like The FitDesk or the ChairMaster (You get the benefits of low impact cycling with resistance training all while sitting down. How crazy is that?) but simple changes in your workspace can also reap huge benefits. Try adding blue to your work environment or eating off of blue plates (blue rarely occurs naturally in food, aside from blueberries and some plums, and research has shown it can help curb eating) or setting an alarm to remind yourself to drink water every hour. The research backs it up: People who took plenty of short breaks (even if they were only a minute long) had smaller waists and lower levels of a protein that indicates potentially dangerous inflammation.

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Perri O. Blumberg
A former food editor at Reader's Digest, Perri Blumberg is a writer and editor based in New York City. After attending Columbia University, where she received a BA in psychology, she went on to study food at a health-supportive culinary school. Her work has appeared in O Magazine, Men's Journal, Country Living, and on Mind, Body, Green, among others.