How to Stay Healthy and Productive at Your Desk Job

By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

Do you drag yourself to work every morning only to find yourself sleepy and disoriented at the workplace?

Does your brain feel fried at the end of the workday? You’re not alone.

In fact, if you’re like the majority of us, you’re probably asking yourself the following question: How can I feel better and boost my productivity at work?

Below are some suggestions designed to make your workday more enjoyable and productive.

Poor Quality Sleep Doesn't Help

A productive workday can hinge on how well you’ve slept the night before. If you sleep well, you’re less likely to be tired, crabby, and non-productive at work.

So how do you set the mood for sleep at night? Practicing good sleep habits like these will help:

  • Take a warm bath an hour before going to bed. This changes your body temperature and prepares your brain for sleep.
  • Dim the lights 2 hours before bedtime; this helps to produce melatonin, your “sleep hormone.” Also, avoid e-mails, computer screens, or any type of electronics before bed.
  • Turn your TV off. Exciting television programs spike cortisol levels, leaving you wide awake.

Eat Right, Feel Right … at Work

We all know that we have to eat breakfast. Make sure to include protein and consider skipping the cereals in the morning. Most of them are loaded with simple sugars and high fructose corn syrup. If you must have cereal, stick with whole or sprouted grain brands.

Egg white omelets with veggies, whey protein smoothies, sprouted grain bread with peanut butter — or other nut spreads — are also healthy choices to consider.

And don’t forget: If you’re hungry eat a healthy snack. They prevent dips in blood sugar, which can zap your creativity and send you straight into a brain fog. So, keeping a supply of healthy snacks at work is always a good idea.

Try this suggestion from the Life Extension® health advisors. Split your lunch in half. Eat half in the mid-day, and the other half in the afternoon. This helps to keep your blood sugar stable.

Finally, consider bringing your own lunch to work. Lean proteins, like fish and poultry, and fresh veggies are probably your best bet.

Exercise Your Brain with Physical Activity

Get up and out of your seat as much as you can. Take a walk around the office and visit friends (just don’t get in trouble). If it’s a nice day, go outside and walk around the office building — several times if you can.

Walking for fifteen minutes, twice a day will make a big difference in your work performance. Studies show that walking increases blood flow to the brain, enhances alertness, and improves utilization of dietary sugars by your brain.

Also, consider keeping resistance bands at your desk. These nifty devices might look intimidating, but they’re easier to use than free weights and easy to keep nearby. Resistance bands increase tension on your muscles, giving them a solid workout wherever you may be.

With them, you can perform different exercises such as triceps and bicep curls along with leg lifts — all from the comfort of your own desk. Exercise bands are a great way to keep your mind sharp and your muscles toned. Try them!

Use Supplements to Charge your Brain

Did you know there are a variety of supplements that may enhance your ability to problem solve and concentrate?

  • In a clinical trial, individuals who took 100 mg of rhodiola extract a day (for 20 days) experienced significant improvements in physical work capacity and general well-being, along with less mental fatigue and situational anxiety.1

  • A study involving 60 adults revealed supplementation with 2 grams L-carnitine reduced physical and mental fatigue and improved cognitive function scores. 2

  • Phosphatidylserine, a component of the human brain, has been found to improve memory,3 concentration, and attention span.4

In Conclusion…

Here’s what we know: Successful workers don’t fall asleep on the job. Making smart, healthy changes can really help you stay in the “productivity zone” your entire day.

Not only that, but you’ll be able to concentrate easier, maintain a more positive outlook, and who knows … it might even get you a bonus if you’re lucky!


  1. Phytomedicine. 2000 Apr;7(2):85-9.
  2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1738-44.
  3. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Jun;4(3):144-61.
  4. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):402-28.


Maria said...

Egg whites? Really? Why would we mess with Mother Nature's perfect design?

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