Take a quick look around your office break room: what do you see? If your break room is stocked with sugary sodas and unhealthy snacks to nibble on, you may be in trouble. A recent study released by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health points out that your workplace environment has a strong influence on general weight-related health habits, as well as the risk of obesity amongst young adults.
According to the study, the number of “healthy” factors in the workplace, like limited soda availability and flexible hours to find time to exercise is directly correlated with an individuals BMI. And the higher your workplace ranks in promoting healthy living, the smaller the chance of developing unfavorable eating habits, and ultimately obesity.
The study focuses on the office environment, but there are plenty of things we as individuals can do to kickstart our health streak. Here are four healthier alternatives to traditional workplace behaviors.
1. Water over Soda
This may be the single most effective way to reduce empty calorie intake throughout the day. Replacing sodas and juices with water not only helps cut back on your daily sugar intake, but also helps to flush out toxins and keep you hydrated.
Pro Tip: Regular water not satisfying your cravings? Try sparkling water to curb your bubbly craving, or opt for a cup of tea or black coffee for something with a little more flavor.
2. Packed Lunch & Snacks over Break Room Snacks
Office food generally tends to skew unhealthy: think cookies, donuts and pizza. Instead of snacking on communal snacks where mindless eating is a danger, bring your own goodies from home. This will help portion out your meals and you’ll have control over exactly what you eat — not to mention the financial benefits of not eating out all of the time!
Pro Tip: Don’t want to pack snacks? Pool some money with a couple of co-workers and buy healthier snacks like fruit and nuts to share at the office.
3. Hike over Happy Hour
Instead of the usual happy hour or pizza night, organize a refreshing hike or bike trip, or round up a couple of co-workers to try a local hot new gym class. It’ll be easier to incorporate physical activity into your week when it doubles as a team building and work function.
Pro Tip: There are plenty of companies like Groupon and Gilt City that offer local deals, many of which are local gym classes that you can take without committing to a full membership. There are also useful websites like MapMyHike that can help find fitting hiking routes around your area.
4. Stand over Sit (or, at least Good Posture over Slouching)
If you have the option to, try working at a standing desk for an hour or two instead of spending the whole day on your bum. Spending hours on end sitting at our desks make it really easy to slump over as the day catches up to us and this can really harm our productivity and overall health — not to mention increased back pain! Standing up for a change, or at least sitting up straighter can help you refocus to boost productivity, and shake out your back for instant relief.
Pro Tip: If a standing desk isn’t an option, try setting aside a couple of minutes every hour to do some stretches at your desk, or go for a quick walk. You’ll notice you feel more refreshed and ready to get back to into the grind.
Source: Millennials at work: workplace environments of young adults and associations with weight-related health by Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Allison W Watts, Melissa N Laska, Nicole I Larson, Dianne R Neumark-Sztainer
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