Your desk job might actually be killing you.
No, not metaphorically.
Recent studies show that sitting and working at a desk for 8-10 hours a day is not only horrible for your stress levels and overall emotional well-being, it’s also horrible for your heart and your vision. (Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic.) And, contrary to popular belief, unfortunately, watching the Olympics on a secondary monitor while you pump out design comps doesn’t count as physical activity, no matter how loudly you cheer or how intensely you click your mouse.
That said, despite what your mom thinks, staring at a computer for 8+ hours a day isn’t exactly a cake walk. It’s exhausting to think for a living. But it’s also a lifestyle we’ve chosen—and a particularly stationary one at that.
Like design itself, physical fitness is a discipline. One that many in our industry have run around in favor of being a disciplined email ninja (nothing wrong with being an email ninja). But I’ve seen the effects of being disciplined physically, and they’re pretty fantastic.
For months I went to bed at 10:30 or 11, and woke up at 5:30am to hit the bike and the pool before I had even had a drop of coffee. I cut the crap out of my diet, ate a lot of vegetables, drank a lot of water, and I can say that those were easily the most productive months of my life.
So here are a few things I’d recommend trying to help you brush up your (potentially) deadly sedentary lifestyle:
I know, I know, you do your best work late at night, and I know you keep your phone next to you when you go to sleep, but it’s still true that you’ll do better work every day if you’re able to squeeze in some bona fide REMs. So whenever you decide it’s right for you to go to bed—be it 8pm or 8am—just make sure you give yourself a proper 8-10 hours of sleeping. And turn your phone off if you can.
Don’t hear me wrong: I’m not necessarily saying to eat less. Just eat better. Try a salad instead of a sandwich (and not one smothered in ranch dressing and bacon). Try cooking your own food instead of eating out, and bringing food from home to work. Not only will you save some cash (that you can later spend on Apple products), the food will likely be fresher and better for you. Oh, and make sure you eat something for breakfast (you’re breaking the fast from overnight).
Encourage your co-workers.
Every Sunday a few of us from Toi (the agency I work at) go to our local farmer’s market to make sure we fill our office with fresh fruits and veggies, instead of chips and candy. Despite what Snickers’ marketing says, an orange is better for your hunger than a candy bar.
Take a walk – or three.
Let’s face it: You sit at your desk all day clicking a mouse, and you need something other than an email that makes you angry to get your heart rate up. So go for a walk—no, go for two walks. Three even! Just make sure you get up and out. If you can make it happen, hit the gym a few times a week. Or go on a quick jog first thing in the morning or in the evening. Not only will it help keep you healthy, it will help you clear your head and refocus your energy.
More water, less coffee.
It’s not so much that drinking coffee excessively is bad for you. It’s more that drinking water excessively is good. So, how about this: for every cup of coffee you drink, drink two cups of water. You’ll pee every 10 minutes or so but, hey, that gets you walking! Boom.
I know, I know: You’ve heard all of this before. You know you should take better care of yourself, but you just don’t.
I’m the same way. As I sit here writing this, I’ve already excused myself from running today because I’m—surprise!—too busy. But that’s why I wrote it: Because I need to read it.
I’m sure many of you are better at this than I am.
What do you do to keep yourself healthy?