Hard work builds character, pays the bills and may even be good for the soul. But recent research shows that some aspects of work life—the stress, long hours, missed sleep and constant sitting—is terrible for our bodies and general well-being. Many of us spend a lot of time in an office—a place that encourages a sedentary lifestyle punctuated by sugary snacks. Here are some easy hacks to help keep you moving and a little more fit around the office.
1. Park around the corner.
That executive parking spot next to the front entrance may not be such a prize after all. Do your body a favor and park as far from the door as possible. Depending on the ticketing situation, park down the street or around the corner! Then watch as the extra steps add up.
2. Take the stairs.
Unless you work in a skyscraper, try taking the stairs for a few floors and see how soon you can do it without feeling winded. Your office is offering you a free Stairmaster—no need to join the gym.
3. Bring your own lunch.
Although the number of healthy take-out lunch places has grown, you still can’t beat making your own food from scratch when it comes to avoiding unhealthy things like salt, sugar and fat—not to mention the cost. Try bringing a big salad from home one or two days a week; leave bottles of olive oil and vinegar in your office kitchen to use as dressing.
4. Pack snacks.
Even if you don’t like donuts, you will eat a donut from the kitchen come 5 p.m. if you’re starving. The answer is to not be starving. Bring almonds, fruit and protein bars to work—or whatever you crave in the afternoon when our willpower gets weak. Keep a couple healthy snacks on hand in case of emergency.
5. Go for walking meetings.
Weather permitting, try going for a walk with your co-workers every afternoon. It’s a great way to enjoy being outdoors, get a little exercise and bond with your office-mates. You might even untangle a tricky work situation while strolling.
6. Take a time-out.
Recent medical research shows a connection between sitting and heart disease. We know we need to get up and move, but it’s easy to get lost in work and let the hours roll by. Set your phone to vibrate or beep every 90 minutes or so as a reminder to get up and stretch. Use a wall as a balance to stretch your arms, hands, shoulders, and work all the way down to your quads and calves if you can by the end of the day.
7. Reboot your commute.
In some places, biking or walking to work is simply not an option. But if you can swing it (perhaps with an assist from public transit), challenge yourself to get to work under your own power, starting with just once a month. You will arrive feeling empowered, energized and ready to take on the day. (Pack an extra shirt as needed.) One study from the U.K. shows that biking to work may even help you live longer. So what are you waiting for?
Read more: 9 Tips to Be Happier Working From Home
Emily Wise Miller is the Web Editor for Live Happy magazine.