Americans are spending more time than ever sitting behind computer screens and in office chairs, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle.
This is the fourth post in the GOOD Guide to Healthy Living and Eating, brought to you by GOOD with support from Naked Juice. Naked Juice drinks are made with one pound of all-natural fruit and veggies in every bottle with added boosts such as Vitamin B12, whey protein, and grape seed extract to help get you through a busy day.
Americans are spending more time than ever sitting behind computer screens and in office chairs, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employed full-time workers over age 15 are spending an average of 8.46 hours daily at work during the week, and 34 percent of full-time workers put in an average of 5.87 hours on weekends and holidays. With more than a third of the day spent at the office, it can be a struggle to pull yourself away from your computer screen and find time to prepare healthy meals or work out.
According to registered dietitian Judy Caplan, author of GoBeFull and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the biggest food-related struggle for full-time workers is planning ahead to eat healthfully. She says, “You have to build in time or it will be impossible to achieve your goals.” And don’t think about heading towards the communal snack table in the office. Caplan recommends staying away from the types of snacks that tend to accumulate in offices—donuts, potato chips, and chocolate treats.
So what is good for you to munch on throughout the day?
Whether you bring or buy your lunch, Caplan recommends lean protein and—especially if you’re vegetarian—beans and nuts. Look for fresh fruit, tons of veggies and whole grains to pair with your lean protein. Add in some nuts and healthy oils and you’ll have a fresh meal to keep you satisfied.
If you often find your stomach grumbling in the mid-afternoon, don’t feel guilty about having a snack—just try to avoid the vending machine. “Some people don’t need to snack, but others do to avoid overeating later,” says Caplan.
Keep some non-perishable snacks in your desk drawer; if you’re too busy to grab lunch or need relief from hunger pangs, you’ll always have some easy-to-eat, healthy options on hand.
- Seeds and nuts are good sources of Vitamin E, which helps with cognitive function as you age. Try a trail mix with walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds or flax seeds.
- Non-hydrogenated nut butters such as almond, peanut and tahini with whole grain crackers will offer the same Vitamin E benefits as raw nuts and seeds with added fiber from the crackers.
- Fresh or dried fruits are packed with fiber and Vitamins A and C, but watch your intake. Added sugar is often found in dried varieties such as pineapple, bananas and cranberries.
If the vending machine is your only option, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you opt for pretzels, almonds, trail mix, whole grain crackers or reduced-fat popcorn.
Staying healthy in the office isn’t all about eating though—sitting at your desk all day can take a toll on your health, too. One recent study found that adults are sedentary for up to 60 percent of their day, a bad habit that’s associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 150 minutes of aerobic activity such as brisk walking every week along with muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week, at the minimum. But don’t feel overwhelmed at the thought of adding exercise to your already full day—you don’t have to do it all at once. Break it up into smaller amounts of time throughout the week, as long as it’s no shorter than a 10-minute interval.
Easy things you can do in and around your office include:
- Walk or ride your bike to work. When you drive, leave your car in a parking spot further away from the entrance.
- Take a walk on your break or if you’re taking a call on your cellphone, walk while you talk.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Don’t sit for too long at once. Every 20 to 30 minutes, remember that stretching or just standing for two minutes will help keep muscles active.
Read more stories in the GOOD Guide to Healthy Living and Eating here.
Illustration by Matt Chase