30 Healthy Habits If You're Stuck at a Desk All Day

30 Healthy Habits If You're Stuck at a Desk All Day

By Thom Alvarez
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Photo Courtesy: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Most people spend at least six hours every day sitting in a chair. Not only is this bad for your back, but it also leads to weight gain and circulatory issues. If you don't want to end up with health problems, you have to take action.

Luckily, there are a lot of ways to make your workday more active. If you want to get rid of your back pain and improve your overall health, you need to adopt these 30 healthy habits that can offset being stuck at a desk all day.

Set Up Your Desk (For Success)

Are you sick and tired of feeling like your workspace is actually working against you? Turn your work cubicle into a vacation station with these simple tricks. First, think about where your laptop is positioned compared to eye level. Why is this so important?

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Photo Courtesy: Free-Photos/Pixabay

Staring down at your computer can lead to neck and back pain while looking up can lead to super dry eyes. Instead, try buying a computer stand to prop up your computer screen to eye level. If you can't afford a laptop stand, a stack of books will do just fine in its place.

Fitness Trampoline

Bellicon Classic 39-Inch Fitness Trampoline

It's becoming more and more common in the office to work at a standing desk, but working on a Bellicon Classic 39-Inch Fitness Trampoline takes it to the next level. Why? Because jumping on a trampoline during your workday is a fantastic refresher and energy booster. You can get this particular model for less than $500.

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Even if you just stick to a standing desk, it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your back and correct your posture. You can also burn an extra 170 calories a day just by standing instead of sitting while you work.

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Squat Exercise

Sitting isn't just bad for your back. It's also a recipe for disaster if you're trying to lose weight. According to one study, exercise promotes digestion. If you're sitting all day, your digestion becomes impeded, and this can lead to weight gain.

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Photo Courtesy: Alex Ceban/Pixabay

Want to beat the battle of the bulge? Start by adding some squats into your workout routine — and your work routine — on a daily basis. If you don’t understand why squats are a good idea, just ask personal fitness trainer Dani Singer, who says, "Squats will strengthen [your glutes], which will take some of the pressure off your lower back."


Drink More Water Daily

This one is a no-brainer that comes at you from every direction. Drink more water daily. Besides being good for your health, water can help you lose weight faster. If that's still not enough, getting your fluids on can lead to brighter skin and more energy as well.

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Photo Courtesy: CongerDesign/Pixabay

Of course, drinking a healthy amount of water ensure you get up from your desk periodically as well. Bathroom breaks may be annoying, but they are a form of exercise at work. On top of that, you will have to refill your water bottle pretty regularly too. Your body will thank you for it!

Fellowes Height Adjustable Standing Desk

Fellowes Corsivo Height Adjustable Standing Desk

Are you on the hunt for an easy-to-use standing desk? The Fellowes Corsivo Height Adjustable Standing Desk might be the right choice. With this ergonomic desk riser placed on your traditional desk, you can choose to sit or stand whenever you want. Additionally, it has a customized two-tiered working surface that can hold at least two monitors.

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It gets better. You can even plug your phone in to this handy standing desk. It's easy to assemble and take apart, and it’s built to last with a full one-year warranty. At around $200, you will definitely get some bang for your buck if you have your own home office where you can choose your own furniture.

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Hip Flexor Stretch

Suffering from tight hips? Your office life may be to blame, but, fortunately, there's a stretch you can do to give your hips some relief. If you want to strengthen your lower muscles, then take a few minutes to do a hip flexor stretch in the middle of your workday.

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Dropping into a deep lunge, place your right knee on the floor. Keep your left foot in front of you. From there, lean as far forward as you can until you can really feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.


Set Your Alarms

As much as your glute and leg muscles are negatively impacted from sitting all day, so are your back and hips. That's because spending too much time in a chair can make your hip flexor muscles get shorter, which, in turn, causes your hip joints to get all out of whack. When you add poor posture to the mix, it can even result in premature muscle degeneration.

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Fortunately, you don't have to go down like that. Just set an hourly alarm on your cell phone or laptop by using a simple plug-in called Workrave. For every alarm that goes off, run a lap around the office. (Walk briskly if running earns you some dirty looks from your boss.)

Zenergy Ball Chair

Safco Products Zenergy Ball Chair

You already know that sitting stationary in a chair all day leads to full body pain. Innovative new products like the Safco Products Zenergy Ball Chair are popping up to help. If your job requires a lot of computer time, you can give this unique ergonomic chair a try to help you feel more comfortable as the hours go by.

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One Amazon user called it "the best ball chair I've tried!" Described as an "active sitting experience," this chair is designed to engage your abdominal muscles and some leg muscles as you work to stay balanced. Just by sitting, you're actually getting quite a workout!

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Plank Stretch

Guess what? Planks aren't just for military personnel and gym rats anymore. But how can planks possibly relieve your back pain? Dani Singer reveals that "you think your back is hurting because it’s weak, but it’s likely that your other muscles aren’t strong."

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Photo Courtesy: Maskot/Getty Images

Weakened abdominal muscles don’t do their job and help your back muscles support the weight of your body. If you want to put an end to back pain once and for all, do yourself a favor and get up from your chair for a little planking. Drop into the plank position (just like a pushup but resting on your arms). Hold the position for at least 30 seconds or longer and repeat three times.


Get More Steps

You can probably agree that elevator music isn't the best listening experience, so stop wasting time in elevators. If your workplace has more than one floor, it's an excellent opportunity for you to get some exercise on the stairs. Even if your office is in a high-rise, you could at least take a few flights of stairs before catching the elevator.

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Another easy word of advice: If you drive to the office every morning, consider parking as far away from your building as you safely can. This helps you add some more steps to your pedometer on a daily basis.

Ergonomic Stool Chair

AERIS Swopper Special Edition Ergonomic Stool Chair

Have you ever seen a coworker swap a regular office chair for a big, bouncy yoga ball? Sounds crazy, right? On the other hand, holistic physician Tudor Marinescu says that alternative work setups like the AERIS Swopper Special Edition Ergonomic Stool Chair offer a healthy, work-appropriate alternative to bouncy balls.

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As a matter of fact, he explains that "a very good option for a chair is the Swopper, which has a similar principle of the big yoga balls that you can sit on." The biggest difference? Marinescu explains that "you sit only with your two sitz bones, leaving your pelvic diaphragm free to breathe."

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Resistance Band Rows

It's not just your lower back that's getting damaged from sitting in your chair for too long. Surprisingly, Dani Singer shares that "when you’re hunched over from sitting at a desk all day, your upper back also becomes weak, and your chest gets very tight."

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Photo Courtesy: Octavius Thompson/U.S. Air Force

Pro tip: Add resistance band rows to your daily routine. Anchor your band to the hinge of your door at chest level. Leaning forward, grip the handles while bending your knees. Extend your arms and keep your palms facing the floor, pulling toward your chest. Try to do three sets a day.


Flex at Your Desk

To be clear, when you’re advised to flex at your desk at work, that doesn't mean you should attempt a 30-minute yoga session at your desk. Have no fear, there are no heavy dumbbells involved with this one. You can use the weight of your own body to give your body a nice stretch during your workday.

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Photo Courtesy: Maskot/Getty Images

Need a hand? Try doing a desk chair swivel move that will engage your abs with the twisting motion. Stretch those rotator cuffs and arm muscles by grabbing each elbow behind your head for 30 seconds. Make sure not to pull too hard or hold it too long as it could lead to permanent damage.

VIVO Black Stand Up Desk Converter

VIVO Black Stand Up Desk Converter

With more than 400 reviews on Amazon, it's no wonder the VIVO Adjustable Stand Up Desk Converter is one of the most effective ways to stay active during your workday. With 4.7 out of 5 stars, this converter rests on top of your existing desk to turn it into a standing desk as needed. It’s sure to give you the relief you so desperately need while not interfering with your workflow.

Photo Courtesy: Amazon

One Amazon reviewer said, "I'm a solid 6 foot tall...so I need to have a desk that rose high enough to be comfortable. I can honestly say that I believe this desk would be just as comfortable, even if I were to suddenly grow to 6' 2".

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Chest Stretch

Here's a fun fact: Sitting in an office chair on a regular basis can make your chest as stiff as your hip flexors and hamstrings. That means you need to stretch your chest, and it’s not as hard as it sounds. Take a look at this easy stretch that can help you regain some of your flexibility.

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Photo Courtesy: Hoxton/Sam Edwards/Getty Images

First, find a doorway and put your forearm on it. Stepping forward, lean into your stretch as much as you feel comfortable doing. Hold this position for 30 seconds and inhale deeply. Don't forget to switch sides to make sure your body is evenly stretched out.


Zoom In

Ever heard the saying "Go big or go home?" Well, this actually applies to the size of the font on your screen as well. Pro tip: Take a cue from your grandmother and make your font size as big as you want it. How does this help?

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The answer is simple: You often unconsciously resort to squinting when the font size is too small. This can lead to headaches, weary eyes and other issues. Not only can you apply a larger setting to your computer, but you can add it to your cell phone as well. Your eyes will thank you!

Copper Compression Arthritis Gloves

Copper Compression Arthritis Gloves

According to Premiere Orthopedics, it’s possible to avoid repetitive strain on your wrists and fingers when you're typing on a computer all day. You can try a product like [productid asin="B00ZO4WW7Q"]Copper Compression Arthritis Gloves[/productid, or you can start with some simple hand exercises. Grab the tips of your fingers with the other hand and gently pull back until you feel the stretch. Simple stretches like this one ensure your hands get the break they need.

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The copper infused compression gloves are a bestseller on Amazon and allegedly help prevent arthritis. Reviews are mixed, but the gloves are very affordable at less than $25.

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Neck Tennis Ball Massage

Who would have thought tennis balls could provide some much-needed neck pain relief in a pinch? If you’ve got a can of tennis balls, place one ball against a wall and lean back until your neck is holding the ball in place.

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Photo Courtesy: Marco Verch/Flickr

As you lean into the tennis ball, try to move it around your neck to find the tightest muscles and knots. Once you've found your most tender area, hold the tennis ball still for anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. After this, the knot should hopefully release. This method also works for back muscles if you slide the tennis ball down along the wall.


Don't Forget to Blink

You might be wondering how you could possibly forget to blink, but it’s a bigger problem than you think. If you spend your day in front of a computer, it has a kind of hypnotizing effect as your eyes follow your mouse across the screen. This actually leads to less blinking, and less blinking leads to drier, tired eyes.

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Photo Courtesy: Hans Neleman/Getty Images

Try this out. Make it a point to spend time opening and closing your eyes at work. The more you do it, the less you will have to remind yourself to do it. Bonus points for using the 20-20-20 rule and spending 20 seconds looking 20 feet away!

Sit-to-Stand Rolling Storage Adjustable Laptop Cart

Techni Mobili Sit-to-Stand Rolling Storage Adjustable Laptop Cart

The Techni Mobili Sit-to-Stand Rolling Storage Adjustable Laptop Cart is a hot item on Amazon, and more than 1,300 positive reviews probably can’t be wrong. What makes this cart so special?

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It's great for small spaces, easy-to-use and resistant to any kind of moisture. In addition, it comes with open and closed storage spaces. Between the adjustable height and mobility, it's the most modern piece of furniture you could possibly put in your office. Need some icing for the cake? It costs around $80. Sold!

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You already know that having weak abs can lead to major back pain, which is why pushups are a surefire way to strengthen your core and back muscles at the exact same time. Even though they might be a little old-fashioned, pushups are still one of the most efficient ab workouts out there.

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Photo Courtesy: Keifit/Pixabay

Start out on the floor with a regular pushup. Once your body is in plank position, touch your left shoulder with your right hand and set it back on the floor. Touch your right shoulder with your left hand and put it on the floor again. Repeat six times.


Give Your Eyes a Rest

Staring at a computer screen all day is super bad for your eyes. Even worse, it can cause something called Computer Vision Syndrome, which is really just an "umbrella term" for all kinds of computer-related eye problems. The best way to help your eyes is to shut them occasionally, but if you can't escape your cubicle for a nap, then you can always give your eyes a short rest instead.

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Photo Courtesy: Wilson Vitorino/Pexels

This means you might have to skip scrolling through social media or watching Netflix on your lunch break. Try to find a quiet place outside, perhaps even in your car, to shut your eyes and decompress. Your vision will thank you!

Ergodriven Spark: The Perfect Starter Standing Desk

Ergodriven Spark Standing Desk

Are you familiar with the Ergodriven Spark yet? It’s billed as "the Perfect Start Standing Now Standing Desk," which sounds pretty darn good. So, what makes it perfect?

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With a two-level design, it has plenty of room for your laptop or monitor, and you can take advantage of the adjustable size to fit your height. It also features a stable structure to prevent any shake when typing. One Amazon reviewer shared that the Ergodriven Spark "is a great first-time standing desk." It’s extremely beginner-friendly with an inexpensive price point, easy portability and minimal setup required before use.

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Back-to-Wall Overhead Press

Have you ever done a back-to-wall overhead press? This exercise is amazing for getting your spine into alignment again. Wondering how to do it? Stand 6 inches away from a wall and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold some light weights and lean backwards until your back and head are touching the wall.

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Photo Courtesy: Westend61/Getty Images

When you're ready, tighten up your core to keep your back flat against the wall. Keep your palms toward your face as you stretch your hands above your head. The key is to keep your back flat against the wall.


Schedule Exercise Breaks

When you sit at your computer all day, it's easy to skip the mandatory break that most employers provide throughout the day. Do yourself a favor and schedule an exercise break on your smartphone instead of skipping your break. With so much work to do, you need a few minutes to recharge.

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If you work from home, there's no harm in taking a workout class in the middle of the day. Better yet, get in a lunchtime workout. For everyone else, you can always wake up 30 minutes earlier to get in some morning exercise.

LifeSpan Treadmill Desk

LifeSpan Treadmill Desk

Efficiency is a super important strategy for any business, as it improves the bottom line. So, why not be more efficient and combine work with exercise with the LifeSpan Treadmill Desk? This desk allows you to literally walk on a treadmill while you work. Yes, you read that right.

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It’s a standing desk with a continuous-duty motor inside to make sure you break a sweat in the office. It has Bluetooth capability to send your fitness data to your smartphone. In addition, you can fit an entire desktop on top of it. It’s so good, you might even want to work overtime.

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Bird Dog Stretch

If you've already scheduled a workout break into your day, then finding time to do the bird dog stretch should be a breeze. What does this do? By forcing you to engage your core, the bird dog can actually release two key pivot points. In effect, it's the most efficient stretch you can do, and you can even do it in your office.

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Photo Courtesy: fizkes/Getty Images

Starting on all fours, reach your hand over your head with your thumb pointing toward the sky. Meanwhile, lift the leg that's on the opposite side of your body. Replacing your hand and your foot, repeat this stretch on the other side. Try doing 10 or 12 reps on each side.


Walk Around in Meetings

No matter how chill your workplace is, you probably can't get away with doing a savasana in the middle of the office. That being said, it's time for you to find an exercise you can do without making your coworkers stare.

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Here's your new gameplan. Rather than being stuck in a sit-down board meeting all day, how about suggesting a walking meeting to your coworkers? You and your colleagues can make like The West Wing and do a walk and talk. Work from home? Just put on your walking shoes before logging into the video app on your smartphone.

Kneeling Ergonomic Chair

WishaLife Kneeling Ergonomic Chair

With tons of ergonomic office furniture options out there, it's difficult to know which one to choose. If you have lower back pain, kneeling chairs like the WishaLife Kneeling Chair are awesome. By distributing your body weight more evenly, it alleviates pressure from your lower back.

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If style is an important feature for you, check out the lacquered walnut finish and dark, stain-resistant fabric that is sure to add a sophisticated flair to your workspace. It's also lightweight (about 12 pounds) and easily maneuverable. It’s also a steal at around $115.

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Glute Bridge Stretch

This can't be emphasized enough: If you work from home or have your own personal space at work, then the glute bridge stretch is a must during your workday. If you want to regain your hip flexibility, give this hip extending exercise a shot. Here's what you should do.

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Photo Courtesy: LordHenriVoton/E+/Getty Images

Lie on your back with your knees at a 45-degree angle. Engage your core and tilt your hips toward the ceiling. Keep your feet hip-width apart and push your hips skyward with your heels. Make sure your shoulders are in line with your knees and hips. Repeat eight to 10 times!