These days, there are various news and magazine articles out there that are keen to point out that our sedentary lifestyles are really not good for our health. They’re bad for our health, in fact. And while lots of us have been thinking, “Ah, well I go to the gym three times a week,” or, “Well, I got for run a few times a week so I’m okay,” it seems that that is probably not the case.
A ‘sedentary lifestyle’ description is not just reserved for those who might describe themselves as couch potatoes. Many of us in the UK have a sedentary lifestyle without even knowing it. And you could still fall into that ‘sedentary’ category even if you take yourself off for that run three or four times a week.
Relaxing in the evenings to watch TV for a few hours or losing yourself in a book, sitting in traffic whilst driving to work, ordering your weekly or monthly shopping online instead of going out there to shop for it. The demands of daily life in the UK can make us sedentary and one of the culprits that can lure us into that sedentary lifestyle is our desk jobs.
But, all is not lost. If you do have a part time desk job, there are lots of things you can do to ensure that you are not rooted to your chair, gazing at your computer screen for a few hours each day. Keeping healthy at work is all about keeping active at work and making healthier choices that can contribute to keeping us active.
So, what can we do to remain healthy and active in our part time jobs – especially if that part time job is a desk job?
Drink Plenty Of Fluids
How many cups of tea or coffee do you get through each day in your part time job? No need to deprive yourself of that ‘brew time’ altogether but swapping a few of those cups of coffee for water can really help to boost your health. For example, if you’re a fan of milky, sweet coffee or tea, then choosing alternatives can boost your health and reduce your calorie intake.
Have a reusable water bottle on your desk – if we’re being healthy, we can help towards the reduction of plastic pollution at the same time. To remain healthy and hydrated, the NHS recommends that, in a climate such as the UK’s, we should drink around 1.2 litres of fluid each day.
Even if you are not a big fan of plain water, you can add some fresh lemon juice or herbal teas to it. This will make it more pleasant to sip your way through some or all of this amount whilst doing your part time desk job.
- Keeping hydrated significantly helps your brain function and your energy levels. These can help you be successful in your part time job and, of course, outside of the workplace too.
- If you’ve been getting headaches, could it be your choice of drink in the workplace? Opt for water instead of your usual fizzy or caffeine drinks to see if that eliminates the problem.
How not to be sedentary – move around. No, this isn’t about setting off on a long walk or running a marathon. It’s just about being aware that if you have a part time desk job, you still need to keep yourself moving.
These days, most of us know we should be aiming to do at least 10,000 steps a day. And lots of us have a watch, gadget or phone app that will count those steps for us. We’ve given you some tips below of how you can keep yourself moving whilst doing your work.
One extra bonus bit of information, here: If you are keeping yourself suitably hydrated, you are going to need to use the toilet a bit more often. Those trips to use the bathroom can all contribute to your step count.
If you have a fitness watch, many of them have a setting on there that will cause the watch to beep if you have been seated for a prolonged period. This is your cue to get up and move around for a minute or two. Prolonged sitting is bad or our health and is linked to various diseases. The NHS recommends you take a break from sitting every 30 minutes and move around for a couple of minutes.
As you can see from these figures, even if you are thinking, “Oh, I work part time and I’m only at my desk for four hours each day so it probably doesn’t apply to me,” this does apply to you.
Use Your Lunch Break
Your lunch breaks – or other break times in your part time job – are not the time to be sitting at your desk, continuing to work and munching on your sandwich in between. Get up and leave your desk. Go for a walk. It could be to do some shopping or a wander around a nearby park.
We know not all workplaces are in the prettiest of surroundings but, wherever you are based, being away from your desk will get some steps in. Walk up and down the steps or through the corridors. As well as being more active, being away from your workstation will help to clear your head and you will be more productive for the rest of the day.
Have A Healthy Lunch
A sedentary lifestyle means those pounds can soon start to accumulate. Look after your weight by eating a healthy lunch. It might be tempting to wander to the work canteen for a quick plate of chips or to the vending machines for snack bars and fizzy drinks but if you take control and prepare your lunch at home to take to work with you, this can help to avoid that temptation.
Eating healthily will also make you feel more energised in the workplace rather than feeling bloated and lethargic from unhealthy foods. If you are lucky, your employer might be an advocate of wellness in the workplace and there could be an array of healthy snacks and fruits on offer rather than the traditional vending machine offerings.
Have Good Posture
When we sit at our desks, looking at a computer screen all day, the natural thing to do is to hunch over, shoulders facing forwards. This is bad for posture and can cause back and shoulder pain.
Sitting up straight can help to alleviate any pain and stiffness from sitting for a prolonged period. Some workplaces will have desk chairs specifically designed for encouraging good posture. There are also stretches that you can do whilst sat at your desk that will keep you feeling subtle and more relaxed.
Keep Your Desk Organised
Being organised and tidy while doing your part time desk job will do wonders for your wellbeing. If everything is scattered around in an unorganised mess, this can alter your mood and make you feel more stressed when you can’t find things or you can’t complete a task as easily as you should be doing because things are in the way.
And,of course, in keeping your desk organised, you might need to take those important documents to the filing cabinet or to colleagues in another department. All valid reasons for time away from your desk and taking a little walk, however short.
Take Calls And Meetings On The Move
Whilst it might not be practical all of the time, it could be possible for you to take calls on the move and even take meetings on the move. That call could be made with your mobile phone rather than your desk phone so that you can wander around the workplace or take a stroll outside whilst you take the call. Lots of us like to pace around while we’re on the phone and if there is a culture of this in your office, you shouldn’t feel too conspicuous.
As for meetings, if it’s a chat with a colleague about an ongoing project or an upcoming task, why not do the meeting on the move. You can make notes digitally as you go along.
This is about preventing sickness. If you are feeling under the weather and think you may have picked up a virus, take some sickness time then you are not spreading he virus around the office to other members of staff. Nobody wants your germs from sneezes, for example.
Illness can also come from not washing your hands regularly. We all know about washing our hands after using the toilet but also be aware of the germs around your desk. Keep your keyboard and other desk equipment clean. If you are snacking at your desk or drinking from cups, make sure you clean your desk and wash any cups, crockery or utensils. And, if you are bringing food from home to eat whilst you are at work, make sure it is packed and stored properly until it’s time to eat. A dose of food poisoning would not be welcome, we’re sure you will agree.
Enjoy Time Outside Of Work To Reduce Stress
This is just as important for part time desk jobs as full time. If you are working multiple part time jobs or you are doing part time work because you look after your children or you have other commitments, make sure you put time aside for yourself.
It can be going out for the day, doing some retail therapy or it might be a hobby that you have.
Whatever you enjoy doing in your leisure time, make sure you make time for that leisure time and use it to the max. This will help you to recharge the batteries and feel less stressed. Feeling refreshed will help you perform better in the workplace and you will also be more energised to take on your general daily life, too.
Use The Stairs
Do you automatically just jump into the lift when you arrive at work? Taking the stairs instead can really help with your cardiovascular health. If you work in a high rise office block on one of the top floors, it might not be practical to drag yourself up all the way up there from the ground floor.
But you might consider taking the lift up to one of the lower floors and then taking the stairs for the rest of the way. Once this gets easier , you can start to add in the number of floors you need to climb by getting out of the lift one floor earlier each week.
Cycle, Walk, Run, Park Away From Work
How do you get yourself to work each day? Whilst it might not be possible for all cases, if you go to work by car, think about alternative ways of getting there that can improve your fitness or at least get you moving.
Is it possible to get to work on foot? You could walk there or, if you enjoy running, why not run to work and take a shower when you arrive. If your workplace is too far away to walk, is it possible to cycle instead? Cycling to work is an increasingly popular option and you are helping to protect the environment as well as getting fit.
For some workplaces, you might have a commute on public transport. If this is the case for you, think about getting off the bus or tram one stop earlier so that you have a walk the rest of the way. This could prove to be quite relaxing and enjoyable if your regular commute is on a packed bus or train. Breathe in the space and the fresh air and arrive at work feeling more ready for the day ahead.
If the only way you can get to work is by car, when you arrive, choose a parking space further away from the building so that you have a bit of a walk to get there.
Do Some Desk-Based Exercises
As well as the stretches mentioned above, it is also possible to keep the blood flow moving by doing some desk-based exercises. If you are having a particularly busy day and you don’t get chance to leave your desk, you can at least do a few exercises. For some of these exercises, they are discreet so no need to feel self-conscious. These types of exercises can include calf raises, squeezing the glutes and rotating your feet.
As well as keeping you healthy, some of these exercises can really help to tone you up without having to leave your seat. Again, if your boss invests in wellness in the workplace, you might even be able to get access to some desk-based exercise equipment to make your ‘work out’ even more effective.
Take A Break From The Computer Screen For 5 Minutes Every Hour
It is recommended by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) that you take a break from your computer screen for 5 minutes in every hour. This is advice that you can heed at home as well as in the workplace so that your eyes don’t become damaged. Time away from your computer screen also helps to prevent fatigue and varies your mental and visual demands.
Workout With Colleagues
Your workplace where you do your part time desk job might already have a culture of fitness and wellbeing where there might be informal competitions around the number of daily steps, for example. You could also be working somewhere that has a cycle club or a running club.
Working out with colleagues can give you the impetus to keep at it rather than giving up when you become bored. If you live near a colleague, you could decide to cycle or walk to work together rather than car sharing.
Are You Already Taking Steps To Keep Fit And Healthy In The Workplace?
Have we missed anything? Are you doing anything interesting or innovative to help you keep fit in your part time job? There are lots of little tricks we can use to keep ourselves active in the workplace, even for those of us with desk jobs. Keep yourself on the move in one form or another and you will go a long way to start feeling fitter and healthier.
If you are looking for part time desk jobs or any other type of part time work, take a look to see if there is anything out there in our list of current part time vacancies.