Prioritizing your mental & physical health @ work!

By MG Intern Maggie Stern

There are no shortage of studies about the dangers of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Today, adults in the US on average spend 58% of their waking hours sitting, and much of that time is spent in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise outside of work—all those hours sitting in front of a computer can still take a serious toll on your body if you’re not staying active during the work day. And being mentally active is important, too! Long stretches of hard work without breaks can make it difficult to stay mindful in the office. Mindfulness—stemming from the Buddhist practice of being intentional and aware—has been proven to have health benefits such as strengthening your memory, reducing stress levels, and enriching your mental health by decreasing reports of anxiety and depression.

Ready to make a change in your office life to help keep active? Here are five tips to help you prioritize your health, both physically and mentally:

  1. Set intentions at the beginning of the day. What do you need to accomplish? How will you make space for yourself in your work? Taking five minutes to think about the day ahead can help you focus and stay engaged all day. If you have the time, try setting intentions before meetings or phone calls, too.
  2. Take more short breaks. It can be hard to decrease the time you spend sitting when your work day is full of meetings and emails. Luckily, studies show that taking short breaks can have big health benefits—even if you’re still spending the same amount of overall time sitting down. Consider walking to someone’s desk instead of sending an email, or take a stroll around the office to check out the MG Wellness stations!
  3. Find small ways to be active. Try biking to work or getting off public transportation a stop early to walk a few extra blocks. Take the stairs, hold “walking meetings”, or go for a walk when it’s time for lunch. And if you’re stuck at your desk, there are still plenty of exercises you can do. Check out these ones from Greatist.
  4. Take advantage of technology. Integrate new habits into routines you already have, like checking your phone or computer. Apps like Breathe will send you reminders to re-center yourself throughout the day, while Mindfulness for Beginners will lead you through meditations. Or try Office Yoga or Office-Fit for personalized exercise suggestions.
  5. Find techniques that help you. When it comes to staying active in the office, there’s no one solution that works for everyone. Take time to figure out what works in your life so that beginning new practices feel natural instead of being forced.

Want to learn more about the health benefits of staying active and mindful? The National Institutes of Health and the American Psychological Association have published the data cited in this post (and more!). Check out these articles for more information: