For the dedicated entrepreneur, maintaining physical health can feel more like a chore than a relief. After all, you may feel like you’ve already gone through an intense workout after a full day of leading, managing, creating, and securing your business plans. Taking extra time out of your day to lift weights or meal prep might feel like a waste compared to sitting at your desk and making your business dreams a reality.
If that sounds familiar, then we have some good news for you– there are things you can do right at your desk that can help maintain your strength, prevent aches and pains, and maximize your body’s mental and physical performance.
Here are some tips for the modern, sedentary entrepreneur to keep you in good health as you help your business flourish!
Chances are you won’t be able to get freakishly ripped while sitting at your desk. That’s not really the goal of this section, anyway. The goal is to prevent muscle atrophy and strengthen parts of your body that could use some TLC after long days sitting in one spot. If you want to activate your muscles while you work (without drawing too much attention to yourself), try:
- Using ankle weights. Don’t have time to go for a jog? Don’t feel like doing lunges around the water cooler? Invest in some light ankle weights! Strap them on and lift your legs throughout the day beneath your desk to keep your lower half active. (Research how to use them safely first!)
- Flexing your torso. Try engaging your core as you work– lift your feet off the ground and stretch them out in front of you, or sit back in your chair and do mini-crunches until you feel the burn. Continue to use your core throughout the day to keep it tight!
- Some yoga poses. Try the seated Cat/Cow pose, high altar side leans, ankle to knee stretches, and forward folds to loosen your joints and engage your muscles without breaking too much sweat.
- Using your weight in your favor! Your body can act as its own set of weights to lift and curl– so use it! March in place, see how long you can keep your legs suspended in front of you, extend your arms until you feel they need to drop. Pump yourself up without needing any additional equipment!
Losing weight relies on a lot of physical and genetic factors, and unfortunately, the most effective ways to drop excess fat require time you don’t always have as an entrepreneur. So, if you’re struggling to see your weight change because of your busy schedule, here are a few nutritional things you can do to help your body shed weight while at your desk:
- Keep water handy. It’s a fantastic dietary friend– it helps your body metabolize food faster, and it helps suppress cravings. Worried about water weight? Don’t be! If you drink enough, your body won’t feel the need to hang onto it and gain those extra pounds.
- Use the “Color Test”. Is what you’re eating unnaturally colored, like traffic-cone orange or battery-acid green? If yes, chances are it’s super processed, and likely not the healthiest option. It’s not a perfect system, but sticking to natural/naturally-colored things is a good way to cut down on super sugary, salty, or fattening foods.
- Prep your lunches. Not only is it ultimately cheaper, but preparing your own meals at home can limit the amount of contact you get with tempting foods. Stick with natural, lean, protein-rich meals to better your chances of losing inches off your waist.
- Control your snacking. Don’t bring family-sized snacks into your workspace– bring a single serving. Don’t nibble on chips and candy for your sweet-and-salty cravings– eat some nuts and berries instead. Be conscious of how much and how often you eat.
Preventing Aches and Pains
One of the biggest dangers of having a sedentary work life is the effects it has on your joints. Sitting in one place for too long can cause serious strain on your body, especially your neck, shoulders, hips, and lower back. Worse yet, it can cause intense long-term damage to your body. To prevent the immediate and eventual ills of too much desk-time, be sure to:
- Keeping your body loose can help prevent stiffness and joint pain. There are tons of targeted stretches that you can do to help ease the tension (and you’ll be happy to know that many of them are discreet enough to do at a desk surrounded by coworkers).
- Give your hands a break. Avoid carpal tunnel and other hand/wrist-related ailments by letting them rest for a few minutes every hour. Invest in keyboards and desks that allow your hands to rest comfortably, and be sure to keep your wrists and palms straight but relaxed.
- Correct your posture. Take a look at how you’re sitting right now– are your shoulders hunched? Are your legs sprawled out? Where are your elbows in relation to your knees? Check out this helpful article from Mayo Clinic to see the optimal posture and desk arrangement for ache-prevention.
- Alternate between sitting and standing. There’s a lot of speculation over what the best ratio of standing-to-sitting is in an office, but scientists and medical professionals alike recommend taking breaks throughout the day to stand, stretch, and move around. It’ll keep your body alert and prevent the stiffness that comes with sitting in one position for too long.
- Invest in braces/pillows. Whether it’s a throw pillow or a medically-customized brace, having additional padding around your neck/shoulders, lower back, and hips can help keep your workspace cozy for your joints and spine.
Staying Focused and Energized
- Avoid sugar. Drinking soda or eating a candy bar may give you a brief energy rush, but you’ll feel anything but energized a few minutes later. Ingesting lots of sugar will disrupt your brain’s natural response to sleepiness, resulting in an awful energy crash. Stay away from super-sugary snacks to avoid hitting that energy wall during the day.
- Stretch your limbs. There’s a reason you yawn and stretch when you first wake up: it’s a way for your body to soothe and realign muscles that have been inactive for long periods of time. Give your body a good stretch to relieve stress and keep your body alert.
- Stay organized. A cluttered workspace will lead to a cluttered mind. Take some time to clear excess papers, trinkets, and tools off of your desk. That extra space will give you some literal and figurative breathing room so you can focus on what really matters.
- Silence your phone. Or if you can’t silence it, turn off any unnecessary notifications. Phone calls, texts, and social media messages can be tremendous time-wasters– do yourself a favor and set them aside while you bang out your goals for the day.
Chances are you’ve already heard at least most of these tips and tricks before. There’s been a great deal of discourse around optimizing health in the workplace, especially now that so many jobs are done while seated at a desk.
But knowing what to do is only half the battle! You’ve been equipped to better your health while at work– now is the time to implement what you’ve learned. Start small: take a ten-minute break every hour to wring out your hands, rotate your shoulders, eat a small snack, walk around your desk, and clean up your workspace. Test it out for a week and see how much more alert, focused and physically relieved you feel!
They’re simple, but they work. Try them and let the results speak for themselves!