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How to Stay Healthy if You Work Retail

Healthy ideas for retail workers.
Healthy ideas for retail workers.

Retail workers often have a difficult time staying healthy. Jobs are typically structured so you have limited breaks and you're often on your feet all day. The work can be exhausting and when you're finished with a shift, you would rather lay down and collapse on a couch than exercise. Here are a few suggestions that may help.

You need to prepare your food in advance. Eating out for lunch or grabbing something on the way home is both expensive, and packed with calories. Now before you dismiss this option, here's a little incentive for you.

According to a 2013 study carried out by Harvard Medical School, researchers found that the average adult fast-food meal contained 836 calories. They also discovered that adults underestimated how many calories were in their meals by 175 calories. That means adults THOUGHT they were eating 661 calories, but that's still 161 more calories than many people should eat in a single meal. If those meals were replaced with healthier home-made options, which contain between 300 and 500 calories each, they could avoid a minimum of 24 pounds a year.

Bring appropriate snacks as well. You might get hungry a couple hours after lunch, but it's still a while before you can leave. Having things like apples, carrot sticks or nuts handy is easy and filling. If you eat a little every couple of hours, you won't leave work starving and willing to eat whatever junk food is convenient.

Bringing your food has another advantage, it gives you extra time during your meal break. If you don't have to go somewhere and wait for an order to be prepared, you'll have time to do things for yourself.

For ideas on what to make, visit our recipe section WeCookFit.com for hundreds of freezer-friendly meal options. Also check out the sandwiches and soups recipes. You can bring those in a thermos or refrigerated lunch box.

Drink plenty of water. So often when people think they're hungry, they're actually thirsty. If you keep water nearby you can stay hydrated and fresh. Fill an insulated bottle or thermos with ice and water in the morning to keep you going all day.

Try stretching and foam rolling your body during breaks. It can help relieve minor muscle aches and pains. Don't bounce. Practice static stretching where you hold the position for 10-30 seconds at a time.

Do quick exercises that target your upper body. Since most retail workers stand all day, their midsections and arms may not work as much. Do a quick set of push-ups, situps or pull-ups when you have a couple minutes.

Attend to your mental health. Go outside and take a quick walk in the fresh air and sunshine. Read a book to unwind or listen to relaxing music. It can be stressful dealing with the public all day, so look after yourself during the break and you'll go back recharged and in a better mood.

Look at your posture and set reminders on your phone to tell you when to straighten up. While you're at it, look at how your register or other work tools are organized. Moving things up or down to make them more convenient can relieve physical stress and help you get your job done more efficiently.

If you work on a computer or cash register, remember to regularly clean it. Those machines can become breeding grounds for vast colonies of germs. Wipe them down before you start a shift. Don't spray anything directly on the electronics, you can damage them if you do. Use disinfecting wipes or cleaners designed specifically for computers if you can.

When you get home, consider not turning the television on right away. Play a little music and prepare the things you'll need for your next workday. That means cutting up snacks, cooking any food and laying out your clothes. Once you're done, think about lying down and getting a little extra sleep. Your body will appreciate the rest in the morning.

Whatever you do, quit using your job as an excuse. Every decision you make can either help you or hurt you. Take control and choose healthy.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.