Technology-related careers hold strong appeal in an interconnected world. Considering the abundant job opportunities, better-than-average-pay for positions like software engineers and computer systems analysts, and increasingly flexible schedules, the attraction is warranted. Not to mention the pure enjoyment many web designers and graphic designers experience as a result of bringing new ideas to life.
Of course, nearly every career path has challenges that remind us that having and eating cake simultaneously has natural consequences. Factor in the likelihood that a well-meaning coworker is dedicated to making sure your office is never without a tempting variety of chocolate and suddenly eating too much cake is no longer a literary device but a very real possibility. Calorie concerns aside, whether you spend the late-night hours coding for a start-up or earn your living in a 9-5 programming gig, the hours spent staring at a screen can add up to legitimate healthcare concerns.
But don't despair. Just remember what Ben Franklin had to say about an ounce of prevention, and follow these tips to ensure your job won't cost you your health.
Get your Move on
Moving food into your mouth won't get you any points for daily physical activity. And like it or not, studies prove that reduced activity exacts a price on metabolism and insulin levels. Fortunately many organizations have wellness programs to help employees combat inactivity. If yours isn't among them, consider taking the initiative to move physical activity and healthy nutrition up your company's priority list. Often times, employers speak ROI. So, be prepared to illustrate the potential healthcare savings and the increased productivity of fit workers. Whether it's replacing the donuts with fresh fruit, or starting a walking club, you can gain inspiration from businesses that focus on creating a health-centric culture.
Power up with Protein
In case you haven't heard about America's growing waistline, you'll have to trust us on this one. Sitting at your desk all day eating M & M's is not the secret to success. To have complete control over what you eat, make packing a lunch a daily habit. Also, go ahead and eat the donuts on occasion, but plan to have high protein nuts or yogurt on hand for a regular afternoon snack.
It's easy for a workplace environment to get into a collective groove. Meetings are traditionally held seated around conference tables, calls typically taken at desks, and colleagues who break the norms by striking a yoga pose may generate more awkward glares than high fives.
Try these three ideas to infuse a bit of fresh air into the daily routine:
- Request a walking meeting. It might take your most persuasive skills but once you get the team to buy in, the benefits will likely be obvious to everyone and it'll be easier the second time around.
- Go wireless with your calls. Standing rather than sitting when possible will help keep the blood flowing and reduce the chance of boredom that can result from the chattiest clients.
- Use the whiteboard or easel for brainstorming. Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come while you are taking a shower or driving? Sometimes it's just getting away from the desk that helps.
Of course, new habits begin with trying new approaches to everyday tasks and every job has a different set of daily to-dos. Apply this method of changing up the routine to the tasks that tend to keep your office chair a little too warm.
Skip the Latte
Gasp! Yes, we really are suggesting a caffeine break and no we really don't want to start an office workers revolt. Take a deep breath and consider that fatigue in the workplace is a normal response to hours of sedentary work. Start a vacation fund with the money you save from getting energized by listening to music (using headphones or asking permission from coworkers within earshot of course), giving your eyes a break by looking out the window, and keeping the water bottle on your desk refilled to be sure your desire for an afternoon slumber is not related to dehydration. Of course if you work in a playful environment who's to stop you from pulling a ping pong table into the break room or starting an office dart war? Play-like activities aren't just for kids and are proven to relieve stress and increase creativity in addition to simply being a sanctioned way to have fun at work. Gasp! Yes, we did say, "Have fun at work!"
Start Now and Don't Give Up
Let's face it your IT career is primarily a mental activity. Use the intelligence that landed you the job you love to accept reality for what it is. Your desk job isn't going to lead to the ripped physique of a personal trainer or a manual laborer. And you are the only person who can reverse the impacts of remaining in a seated position for hours on end.
And more importantly get creative. We've developed this list to get you thinking, not to add additional burden to your already-busy professional life. We suspect you have some ideas of your own as well. So tell us, how DO you put your health first at work?