3 Easy Hacks to Get Healthier at Work

If you’re chained to a desk all day, you’re likely to feel the effects on body and mood. A few workspace tweaks can help.

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Photo by Courtney Keating/Getty Images

The average employed American adult spends well over a third of the day working—and more often than not, those eight-hours-plus aren’t healthy ones, loaded with sedentary behavior, sugary office snacks and bleak cubicle walls. The good news? A few simple tricks can improve your on-the-clock well-being.

Go Green at Your Desk

In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that office plants were linked with a 15% productivity boost. Scientists in the UK and Netherlands studied offices over several months, and their research showed that greenery increased employee-reported levels of satisfaction and concentration, as well as subjective perceptions of air quality. So go ahead and get a low-maintenance plant for your desk (just don’t forget to water it!).

Look Out the Window

In June, researchers at Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that workers who were exposed to natural light during the workday experienced higher quality sleep and overall better quality of life than those whose only source of light was their computer screen. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, focused on “white light exposure,” which came through office windows, and found employees who worked near windows received 173% more white light and slept 46 more minutes on average than those whose offices lacked windows. If you don’t have the corner office, try to eat lunch outside or near a window, and schedule meetings near natural light to get your fix.

Stand Up!

Since 1950, American workplaces have become 83% more sedentary, and the average workweek is almost 47 hours long. All that extra sitting comes at a steep health price—like increased risks of cancer, heart attack, or weight gain. But some simple tricks can help even the most idle desk jockey get moving. Some ideas: Take hourly laps around the office or ditch your chair or create a “standing desk.” And stop slouching! Practice these simple moves to develop better posture at your desk.