From the stress of hectic schedules and imminent deadlines to the hours spent sitting still at a desk – often with sugary snacks within our grasp, the workplace can have a negative impact on our health. So, how do we keep a good balance and look after ourselves during office hours? Incorporating small, realistic changes to your routine can make all the difference. We've compiled our top tips, from taking a brisk walk at lunch to preparing healthy snacks.


Next, read what is stress and how to reduce it, as well as why stress makes you hungry. Then check our our top tips for managing stress eating.

Healthy tips for the office

1. Start the day with a nutritious breakfast

Kick-start a busy day with a satisfying breakfast that will power you through until lunch. As well as keeping you energised, it may also help you avoid a sugar craving or caffeine fix.

Whip up a protein-rich herby omelette before work, try a wholesome bowl of porridge or, if you want a grab-and-go breakfast, make a jar of overnight oats the evening before. If you don't normally eat much early in the morning, try a smoothie or fruity yoghurt pot.

Find more feel-good breakfast inspiration in our healthy breakfast recipe collection.

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2. Snack smarter

Sugary snacks might give you an instant energy rush, but this can often be followed by a slump (and cravings for yet another biscuit). While we're all in favour of the occasional treat, there are plenty of healthier options that are just as tasty – and won't mess with your blood sugar levels.

Our healthy cookies are a great way to satisfy your craving while providing a slow release of energy. They’re naturally sweetened with bananas and raspberries.

Whole fruit offers another healthy way to curb a craving. Different fruits have individual health benefits, but all count towards your five-a-day and provide valuable vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try bringing in bananas, oranges, apples or pre-prepared portions of pineapple or mango to snack on.

Read more:

The best healthy snacks for work
10 healthy snacks you can make in minutes
Snacks that are under 100 calories
Healthy snack recipes

A lunchbox filled with healthy foods

3. Tuck into a packed lunch

When it comes to lunchtime, planning is key. Aim for a balance of lean protein, slow-release carbs, healthy fats and plenty of colourful vegetables. Canteen meals and shop-bought sandwiches are often high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, so put aside some time the night before to make yourself a delicious and healthy packed lunch that you know you'll look forward to.

We've got plenty of ideas for quick, easy and nutritious meals you can prep ahead for work, including wholegrain pasta boxes, brown rice salads, nutritious sandwiches and wraps, satisfying soups and protein pots.

Find more feel-good lunch inspiration in our healthy packed lunch recipes.

4. Curb the caffeine cravings

Many of us grab a cup of coffee to ease ourselves into the working day, and with good reason – aside from being delicious, coffee may also have some health benefits. But don’t forget - caffeine is a stimulant that affects everyone differently. Some people may experience energy slumps, dizziness or insomnia when they consume too much caffeine. It can also act as a diuretic, which may cause the body to produce urine more quickly.

If you're looking to reduce your caffeine intake, it's worth winding down slowly. Rapid withdrawal could leave you with headaches, so it may be best to cut back gradually over two to three weeks rather than going cold turkey. Good alternatives include decaffeinated coffee or tea, herbal teas or good old water – which leads us on to the next tip...

5. Keep hydrated

It's often easy to lose track of how much water you're drinking. However, even mild levels of dehydration (losing 2% of your body weight in fluid) may lead to fatigue and headaches – not what you need on a busy work day! Signs of dehydration include thirst, passing dark-coloured urine, feeling lethargic or dizzy or having a dry mouth and lips. Although individual needs vary, the NHS recommends that, on average, we should consume around 6-8 glasses a day.

If you're not keen on the taste of plain water, try diluting some fruit juice or check out our ideas for infusing your water with fruit and herbs for an added flavour boost. Buying a reusable water bottle that you enjoy drinking from may also encourage you to drink more, as well as helping to protect the environment. Read our review of the best water bottles to buy and find your new favourite.

Discover more: How much water should I drink a day?

Two healthcare workers walking up stairs

6. Stay on the move

Regular, moderate activity is vital for cardiovascular health, weight management and for keeping up energy levels, to name just a few benefits of exercise. However, with sedentary office jobs and long commutes to contend with, it's easy to let exercise fall by the wayside.

There are so many ways to exercise for free, so why not get out and about during your lunch break and go for a stroll, jog or cycle in the fresh air? Not only will it clear your head, get your circulation going and burn calories, the change of scenery will also provide a chance to de-stress.

If you simply don't have time to get outside at lunchtime, there are plenty of other exercise hacks you can build into your day – referred to as NEAT activity (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) : they include taking the stairs instead of the lift, running to work or getting off the bus one stop earlier so you enjoy a slightly longer walk on your commute. You'll arrive to work feeling more energised and ready to start brainstorming.

See our guide for quick and easy exercises, which you can do either at work or at home without any need for fancy gym equipment.

7. Take regular breaks

Taking a break may be the last thing you want to do when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list, but taking short breaks throughout the day may help to boost productivity and promote wellbeing. In fact, taking frequent shorter breaks may be better at relieving back pain than taking fewer longer breaks.

If you're struggling to remember to get up, try setting yourself hourly pop-up reminders to walk around. It's a great excuse to make a hot drink and have a catch-up with colleagues.

If standing desks are available at your workplace, give them a go – they offer an easy way to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting, while still allowing you to focus on your work. Alternatively, swapping your chair for an exercise ball will improve your balance and give your abs a workout (just take care when using it!).

8. Use technology to your advantage

Sometimes a little motivation is all you need to get up and running. Fitness watches, trackers and apps offer a convenient way to monitor your progress and stay on track to achieve your health goals. But with such an abundance of fitness-orientated tech on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to invest in – so we've reviewed the best fitness trackers on the market to help you make the right choice.

Some of the apps that the Good Food team have used include Time Out, which provides a regular reminder that you've been sitting too long and need to take a break; My Water Balance, which helps to track daily water intake; Nutracheck which helps keep your eating patterns on track and, of course – did we mention the Good Food recipes app? It's perfect for finding healthy recipe inspiration and planning your weekly meals on the go (even if we do say so ourselves).

Discover the 5 things you find out when you get a fitness tracker.

9. Maintain good posture

Are you sitting comfortably? It's all too easy to lean into the computer screen, hunch your shoulders, or lean sideways while talking on the phone. Unfortunately, sitting in an awkward position can place pressure on the neck, shoulders and spine, increasing the risk of repetitive strain injuries such as tension neck syndrome.

Make a conscious effort to correct your posture so that you're sitting upright at an arm's length from the computer. Ensure your screen is at eye level and the font is large enough that you aren't straining to read. The Health and Safety Executive recommends adjusting your chair height so that you can relax your shoulders and your keyboard is just below elbow height. Your elbows should be at the side of your body, with your arms bent in an L-shape at the joint and the keyboard should be positioned at the front of the desk, leaving a small gap of about 4-6 inches (10-15cm) to rest your wrists between typing sessions.

If you're a regular phone user, try swapping your handheld device for a headset, which will reduce the strain from cradling the phone in your neck.

10. Manage stress

Relentless deadlines, long hours or a demanding job can increase your stress levels and take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. The NHS recommends trying self-help techniques to lower your stress levels in the workplace. These may include:

  • Mindfulness, meditation and yoga – these are popular methods of calming your mind and body and are activities you can do nearly anywhere. Bring a mat to work and find a quiet place, or join a yoga class.
  • Getting enough sleep – this is essential for maintaining focus and decreasing long-term stress levels. Aim for eight hours each night. Improve the quality of your sleep by making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, tidy and at a temperature between 18C and 24C.Learn more about getting your sleeping environment right with our expert guide.
  • Take time to socialise – maintaining a strong support network of friends, family and colleagues can make all the difference to your stress levels. Joining social or sports clubs can help you to prioritise spending on hobbies or physical activities that you enjoy while having a good laugh – a proven stress-buster.

Find out more about how to manage stress, and the help that's available, on the NHS website.

11. How to protect your eyesight

Many office and home workers use digital devices to complete their work, constant exposure to these screens and the repetitive movements of our eye muscles that this demands, may lead to eye strain thanks to fatigue, discomfort and blurred vision.

Although hailed as a solution to the blue light emitted from these screens, blue-light filtering glasses and screen protectors sadly don’t appear to be the answer. Until more high-quality randomised trials are conducted regular visits to an optician and taking frequent breaks from your screen, remains the best advice to protect your eyesight.

12. Top up on the sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D (the sunlight vitamin) is made in our skin via direct exposure to sunlight. Our liver and kidneys then convert it into a form we can use. We need vitamin D for a number of functions in the body including the formation of strong bones and teeth. The British Skin Foundation cite research that suggests "for lighter skin types, daily sunlight exposure for 10-15 minutes between April and September provides sufficient year-round vitamin D while also minimising the risks of sunburn and skin cancer. For darker skin types, 25-40 minutes is recommended".

Current guidelines suggest all adults consider taking a vitamin D supplement, providing 10mcg daily, between October and March. During the summer months, aim to get outside during your lunch break for the suggested times, if this is not possible and you are one of the groups more likely to be at risk of low levels talk to your GP about supplementing year-round.

Find more ways to stay healthy...

Healthy snacks for work
Healthy snacking ideas
Healthy packed lunch recipes
How to eat a balanced diet
How to get a good night's sleep

What do you do to stay healthy in the workplace? Leave a comment below...

This page was reviewed on 18 March 2024 by Kerry Torrens


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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