We know physical health affects job performance, yet the demands of the day often win out over doctors' orders. While studies show that a ten minute break for every 50 minutes of intense mental demand is required to keep your brain at its' optimal performance, getting up from the desk is not always an option, especially for busy entrepreneurs. Follow these tips to stay healthy and productive even when desk-bound.
1. Boost your immune system with lemon water."Squeezing half of a fresh lemon into an eight-ounce glass of water will kick-start the liver to metabolize waste more effectively, minimizing digestive bloating, gas, constipation and body pains", says Naturopathic doctor Camille Nghiem-Phu. Bonus: lemon is an uplifting scent that can make you feel more energized and alert.
2. Get rid of your chair for better posture. "Poor posture obstructs proper blood flow and nerve conduction to our organs," says Nghiem-Phu. Bad posture can also often lead to lower back, upper neck and shoulder pain resulting in headaches and poor concentration.
Related: 3 Postures to Boost Productivity Now
Switch up your desk chair for an inflatable exercise ball that allows you to keep your back straight while strengthening the core muscles. "Ensuring proper ergonomic positions will accelerate fresh oxygen delivery to the brain for mental sharpness," says Nghiem-Phu.
3. Choose high-protein snacks. "Protein keeps the blood sugar stable to ward off the highs and lows of sugar-crashes that come from consuming only carbohydrates at mealtimes," says Nghiem-Phu. Exchange your coffee and doughnut for high-protein snacks such as raw almonds, fruit, plain Greek yogurt or hummus and veggies and avoid refined sugars to ensure optimal mental performance all day long.
4. Drink more water than you think you need. Drinking water keeps the brain and muscles hydrated. We've all heard the advice to drink eight 8-ounces glasses of water a day, but it's not one size fits all. Your weight in kilograms is equal to the ounces of water your body requires each day, according to the American Dietetic Association. So if you weigh 170 pounds (77kg) you should drink 77 ounces of water a day (or almost 10 eight-ounce glasses). Increase this number by 16 to 20 ounces when you exercise.
5. Stretch at your desk. Taking a break to do some stretches improves circulation allowing fresh oxygen delivery to the brain, and minimizes neck and shoulder tension that lead to headaches. Nghiem-Phu recommends the following stretches for the desk-bound:
- With a straight back, bend your elbow, reaching your right hand towards the back of your head, for the area behind the left ear and bring your chin towards the right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
"This stretches the muscles at the back of the head that are typically tightened to cause migraines and tension headaches," says Nghiem-Phu.
- To stretch the neck and upper back, bring both hands to the back of the head and allow the weight to bring your head forward while keeping your back straight.
- With your right hand on your right hip, raise the left arm to the ceiling. Bend sideways at the waist towards the right to stretch the obliques. Repeat on the other side. "This opens the rib cage to maximize air circulation in the lungs," says Ngheim-Phu.
- To stretch the upper back, stand up, place both hands on the desk in front of you and take a couple steps back so you’re bent at the hip with your arms outstretched and your head facing the floor.