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Think twice before eating a donut at your desk….

I don’t know about you, but in our office here at Snow and Carpio, it is a constant battle to watch our weight. Between the amazing breakfast burrito place around the corner or our favorite Mexican food restaurant Rito’s; my pants always seem to be a little tight. It’s not just what we eat, it’s the fact that we don’t have a physical job. I hardly think a roofer has to worry about eating a big lunch like we do. He is going to be up and down ladders all day and will quickly burn off his calories. Or even a nurse. She is going to be on her feet all day walking through the halls to see patients. Unfortunately for us, we sit at our desk and the only thing moving at a rapid pace is our fingers from typing.

…and if you don’t think your productivity at work is affected by your weight, think again! Employees who are moderately to extremely obese have reduced productivity on the job, even compared to overweight or mildly obese workers, reports a study in the January Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Additionally, employees with moderate to extreme obesity also had increased health-related absenteeism, compared with other workers. Presenteeism days employees are at work but performing at less than full capacity is increasingly viewed as an important contributor to costs related to employee health.

Researchers found that men sitting at their desks more than six hours a day are nearly twice as likely to be overweight than those who sit for less than 45 minutes a day. While women fared slightly better—spending on average 20 more minutes on their feet at the office than men—researchers conclude that a sedentary job is a major health concern for both genders.

And it’s no secret that sedentary jobs (and lifestyles) have contributed dramatically to the accelerating obesity rate of the past 20 years. Put emphasis on the word ‘dramatically’—a study conducted by the University of Chicago in 2001 found that a worker in a sedentary career may end up with a Body Mass Index 3.3 units higher than someone in a highly active job. If you’re 5’5″ this can mean an increase in weight from 140 pounds to 155 pounds! Well, that explains it for me!!

So what can we do?

Be sure to eat. It’s easy to slog through a day of meetings, e-mails, and phone calls to discover at 4 p.m. that you haven’t eaten since breakfast. (I never have that problem!) But, your body needs energy to get you through the day. Make it a priority to have a healthy and tasty meal—along with 1-2 healthy snacks. It is not a sin to opt for such shortcuts as microwave meals, as long as you read labels to avoid items with excess calories and sodium.

Compensate, compensate. Get physical to compensate for your sedentary workday. Join a gym, take an early morning run, or find time for fitness fun with your family. Buy one or two pieces of home exercise equipment that will allow you to exercise no matter what the weather. One of the gals here at work using the time while waiting for her kids at soccer practice to jog. Since their practices tend to vary locations, she get a change of scenery and it makes the time go faster for her. Way to go!

Rework your network. Chances are, your friends and co-workers need help with their love handles just as much as you do. So, try some new activities that don’t revolve around food. Organize a bi-weekly volleyball game, walk during lunch, or play a quick round of mini-golf after work. Our entire office just participated in a kick-ball tournament. It was so much fun and not only health, but a great way to enjoy each other outside of the office.

Bring your buddies on board. While you’re coaxing co-workers to modify those after-work habits, see if you can’t involve them in a friendly get-fit challenge during work hours. By sharing healthy potluck lunches, exchanging recipes, and providing moral support, you’ll find that getting in shape can be a team-building triumph. In the past, we have all divided up a list and bring items like fruit, healthy lunch meats and snacks like veggies. It makes it so much easier if your coworker isn’t eating a big piece of chocolate cake while you’re trying to stick to carrot sticks!

Don’t eat due to boredom. Keep water at your desk; it’ll give your hands something to do when you’re stressed and will divert you from eating when you’re not really hungry. Staying hydrated at is very beneficial to your productivity as well. Check out the article on our blog regarding dehydration.

Everything small can add up. If you want to change your life in big ways, try some small changes, like substituting a yogurt and black coffee with skim milk half the time. You’ll save about 470 calories (660 vs. 160)!

Lose the technology. Modern advances are great, but do you control them or do they control you? As much as possible, take advantage of opportunities throughout the day to get up and move! Deliver that memo in person, sit on a stability ball at your desk to improve your posture, park at the far end of the parking lot for a brisk walk to your building. You’ll be surprised how quickly minor changes can improve your energy level and help you get fit.

Choose wisely. Whether you normally go out for lunch or eat in, try to make your meal choices conscious ones. Learn how to eat out wisely, and remember how much better you feel come mid-afternoon when you eat healthy.
One in five Americans is obese; three in five are either overweight or obese. But sitting at a desk doesn’t have to mean you’ll be just another statistic! Incorporating these simple strategies into your workday will bring you one step closer to being a healthier, more energetic you.

In the absence of Chad Snow, blog posted by April Snow, Business Manager at Snow and Carpio Law Firm. For questions regarding Workers’ Compensation claims or any topics you have seen on our blog, please contact our Phoenix office @ 602-532-0700 or our Tucson office @ 520-647-9000 or contact through our website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

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