Is Your Job Killing You?

sitting at work
Hours of sitting at your desk, trips to the vending machine, stress, lack of sleep . . . is your job bad for your health? Get out of these 5 terrible work habits and create lifelong healthier ones.

1. Too Much Tushie Time
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that sitting for a prolonged period of time increases your risk of death—even if you DO engage in regular physical activity. Folks who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40 percent higher chance of dying within the next 3 years over those who only sat for 4 hours a day. Furthermore, those who sat between 8 to 11 hours a day had a 15 percent higher chance of dying compared with those who sat fewer than 4 hours a day.

In addition to working, we spend a lot of time lounging out in front of the TV, driving, and eating which all count as sitting-down time.

Solve it: Use small windows of opportunity to get up and walking. Use your lunch break to take a walk around the block, stand up during long calls or use wireless headsets that allow you to easily pace around, or get off a stop earlier on the bus or subway.

2. Not Enough Zzz’s
Studies have found that getting fewer than 6 hours of shuteye a night can lead to weight gain. One theory also states that when you’re very tired you’re less mindful of making healthier food choices.

Solve it: Getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night is important for good health. Record your favorite television program, skip the video games, turn off the smart phone, and enforce your own bedtime to make sure that happens.

3. Vending Machine Overload
Do you find yourself hungry throughout the day? Are you making numerous trips to the vending machine for high-calorie, processed snacks? Those calories and fat can really add up.

Solve it: If you have a variety of choices in your vending machine, make sure you’re making the smartest ones. You can also save money and eat healthier by packing your own snacks. Homemade trail mix, granola bars, low-fat yogurt and fruit are all better-for-you choices.

4. Excess Stress
Are you a stress eater, reaching for less-than-healthy food choices during high pressure times? You’re not alone. Stress happens to the best of us, but it’s no secret that it’s not very good for weight loss efforts. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that you are less likely to lose 10 pounds if you get fewer than 6 hours of sleep AND have high stress levels.

Solve it: Take a deep breath and see where you can alleviate some of the stress. Find ways to relieve some tension like indulging in a bubble bath or signing up for a yoga class. You can also munch on these 10 foods that have been shown to help relieve stress, and try these tips to prevent stress eating.

5. Indulgent Group Lunches
If you attend numerous work lunches or meetings each week where you’re munching on everything (hey, it’s free!)—this habit can definitely lead to weight gain. It really becomes an issue when it’s a regular occurrence (AKA habit) and not a once-in-a-while type of deal.

Solve it: If you know what’s going to be served or know the menu in advance, plan out healthier choices. Otherwise take control of your urge to splurge and make healthier choices and moderate portion sizes.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »


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