5 Ways to Stay Healthy When You Work a Desk Job
As thousands of college students graduate and prepare to enter the corporate world, it could have the fit-minded, soon-to-be young professionals worried about gaining weight, especially if their job involves spending long hours behind a desk.
Matthew Wachterhauser, health and wellness director of the YWCA Fitness Center, managed by TriHealth, shares his go-to tips for keeping health top of mind during the work week.
#1. Plan Ahead
If you typically aren't at home for certain meals, like breakfast or lunch, prepping nutritious meals for the following day, means you're less likely to hit the vending machine or drive-thru for convenience.
The same goes for working out. If you plan to exercise before or after work, bring your exercise gear with you to avoid a pit stop at home where you might get too comfortable to head back out to the gym.
#2. Don’t Take Shortcuts; Get More Steps
When he has more than one route option, Wachterhauser aims to take the tougher alternative. He'll use the restroom farther away or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
“They say around 10,000 steps equals five miles. That’s a pretty great way to see how much you’re walking, in terms of if you count your steps, basing it off that scale,” Wachterhauser explains.
Wachterhauser says a pedometer is a great way to monitor your step counts. He also likes wearable devices, including Fitbit or Jawbone UP, which track your daily fitness habits and quality of sleep. “Obviously they’re more expensive, but you get more quality information,” he adds.
#3. If You Can’t Block Out 30 Minutes for Exercise, Break It Up
For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days a week for a total of 150 minutes. (Or, 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days a week.)
If you can’t exercise for 30 minutes, that’s OK. “Science is showing that if you do three 10-minute blocks throughout the day, it’s just as effective as 30 minutes straight,” Wachterhauser points out.
- Related: Exercise: 4 Excuse Busters
#4. Snack Smart
Grab the foods with more protein (aim for 12 to 15g), because those snacks keep you fuller, longer. Wachterhauser’s go-to snack is cottage cheese because it’s high in protein, relatively low in calories and it's slow dissolving. This means it feeds your muscles longer than, for example, a protein drink would, because it dissolves slower in your body, he says. He also avoids sugary snacks because they can cause a “crash” later on.
#5. Swap Sit-Down Meetings for Walks
When Wachterhauser was at the TriHealth Corporate Health office, he and his team members would take "wellness walks," or walking meetings. “The thing with sitting all day is that, eventually, it leads to muscular imbalances. So that means your hip flexors get really tight and your lower back starts to hurt. Any kind of movement you can squeeze in, I’m all for it,” he says.