As a professor, I spend a great deal of time at my desk or in meetings. This lands me in the sitting position almost the entire time I’m at work. If that isn’t bad enough, I end up taking my work home which means even more sitting. Then, in my free time I like to blog and read, activities also done in the sitting position! One day I realized that the vast majority of my day is spent sitting. Even though I had a 6 day a week/1 hour a day exercise regimen, I was living a sedentary lifestyle. That realization hit me hard. In the last year I decided to make a change and convert my unhealthy workaholic lifestyle into a healthy one. Am I cutting back my work schedule? Writing fewer grants? Teaching less? Blogging less? Hell no! Instead I decided to change my working environment into a healthy one so that I can do what I love without it incurring health risks that I will pay for later. Here are some of the changes I have made. I challenge you to make a few healthy tweaks to your work life too!
Treadmill Desk Part 1. I bought a Trek Desk (pictured above) for my home treadmill so that I can put in some mileage while working at home, blogging, or even just surfing the net. I have had this for well over a year now and it was worth every penny. My routine is to walk about 1 mile at a time at 2 mph at least two times per day. This adds up to 2 miles or 4,000 steps, all while getting things done! Here is my original post about the advantages of the Trek Desk.
Treadmill Desk Part 2. Unfortunately my work office could not accommodate a Trek Desk but I was able to squeeze in a treadmill. (I recommend Craigslist.org for finding a reasonably priced treadmill.) Once the treadmill was installed, I found a $40 attachment on Amazon called the SurfShelf that holds my laptop on the treadmill (see pic to the left). I’ve been using this for a few weeks now and I love it. I don’t have the surface area of my Trek Desk to put my mug, papers, and other desk items, but it’s the next best thing if space is an issue.
Foot wear. I now keep a pair of comfortable sneakers at the office not only for when I use my treadmill desk but also so I’m not deterred from walking across campus in dress shoes. I never realized how much the wrong shoes could be a deterrent to walking around at work. I find that I’m much more mobile now that I have comfortable walking shoes that I can slip on at any time.
Snacks. Hunger is the best sauce, as they say, and a diet destroyer. I make it a routine to have plenty of fruit around by bringing at least 2 pieces a day. Fruit nips the munchies in the bud and prevents me from lurking around vending machines later in the day. My other favorite snack there is 100 cal pack of almonds. I only bring single servings—because if I bring snacks for the whole week, I eat 2-3 days of snacks in one day. Single servings (instead of stocking up) prevents oversnacking.
Hydration. Hydration is key at work and a cup of decaf tea throughout the day is nice to nip cravings and relax me. I keep a nice selection of decaf choices by my Keurig machine (an office must have) and drink several cups throughout the day. This keeps the caffeine consumption down too.
Parking Lot Trek. Finally, I work on a campus with several buildings and parking lots. I used the Runkeeper app to measure the distance from various parking spots, with the very worst parking spot being about ½ mile walk to my office (see simulation below). I take this spot (usually because it’s the best I can find!) a few days a week to add another mile (2000 steps!) to my day.
Can you work a lot and still be healthy? I say YES! I love my work and while it certainly can be a source of stress, I found a career that I’m passionate about and sometimes it really is hard to pull away. I don’t want it to kill me though. By adding more activity into my day I have more energy, my productivity has increased, and I feel better knowing that I can pursue my passion without it costing me my health.
How have you put a healthy spin on your workaholism?? I would love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments section!