When you spend the majority of every day chained to a computer and trapped in stand-still traffic, finding time to work in a little exercise isn’t exactly easy. Fast foods and vending machines may not be the most tempting options when meal and snack times roll around, but they’re definitely convenient.

In the midst of it all, you tend to gain weight and lose energy; of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Making some small changes in the way you operate can go a long way toward combatting the combined effects of an office job and extended commute.

Being Active in an Inactive World

Parking a few rows farther away from the front door of your office and taking the stairs instead of the elevator are classic techniques for ramping up daily physical activity. Both help boost energy levels and burn off excess calories, but they’re not your only options.

  • Get Rid of Your Desk Chair: Obviously, standing in one place all day long isn’t an efficient alternative. After a couple of hours, your feet and ankles will probably start to swell. Your blood pressure could even drop and knock your legs right out from under you. If you have ample coordination and the HR department deems it acceptable, consider trying a balance ball. It’ll help build core strength and keep you on your toes even when you’re sitting. Alternate between balancing and standing to avoid burn out.
  • Get a Convertible Desk: Convertible desks, or standing desks as they’re sometimes called, are readily available these days. They feature adjustable height, so you don’t have to hunch over while standing or stretch while sitting. At the same time, they get you out of the chair for a while here and there without sacrificing productivity.
  • Find Excuses to Leave the Computer: Modern technology leaves us little reason to walk away from our desks, so we sometimes have to look for excuses. Deliver verbal messages rather than memos, or transfer files the old-fashioned way. If office protocol dictates leaving a digital paper trail, take a walk to a coworker’s desk just to inform him or her you’ve sent an email to be on the lookout for.

Though you don’t have to be on your feet all the time, being proactive in your own health requires fitting some physical activity into your daily routine. Even a strategically planned trip to the restroom can give you a few extra steps. If nothing else, crunch those abs while sitting at your desk. It’s really just a matter of working a little more movement into the day.

Fueling Healthy Habits

While grabbing a soda and chips from the vending machine and picking up a heart attack in a sack for lunch save plenty of time, these handy alternatives do nothing for your health. Of course, going cold turkey on the cheeseburgers, whether literally or figuratively, may not be the answer for you. Consider some small, simple steps for midday meals and occasional pick-me-ups.

  • Take Leftovers for Lunch: Last night’s homecooked dinner is virtually guaranteed to have less fat and sodium and fewer calories than anything you’d find at a restaurant, so why not just make a little extra to take to work? It’ll make a hearty meal sure to keep you going for a few more hours.
  • Repurpose Your Food: If you happen to have plenty of baked chicken, or even fried for that matter, leftover from dinner, add it to a nice, portable salad for tomorrow’s lunch. Shred up the chicken and put it in some tortilla shells with rice, beans, and salsa. You don’t have to eat the same old thing every day to take advantage of leftovers. Make it interesting.
  • Make Substitutions: If you love nothing more than a big, juicy cheeseburger, try replacing the beef with mushrooms. Swap out sugary sodas with fruit-infused water. Add some artificial sweetener if you need a little more flavor. Make the switch to whole grain for tortilla shells and sandwich bread. Subtle substitutions leave you feeling a bit more satisfied than sudden, major changes.

Plenty can be said for planning ahead and spending an evening prepping healthy lunches for the entire week. Still, if you’re not making take-along foods you like, you’re most likely going to toss them aside for old habits. From food options to technique, be sure you’re choosing a sustainable approach to the lunch-packing process.

Bottom Line

Staying healthy in spite of a sedentary job and a busy life isn’t a simple feat by any means. Fitting small changes into your schedule and lifestyle can make a considerable difference in the long run. Don’t hesitate to try different approaches until you find some that work for you.