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The surprising way your job might be harming your health

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The link between job-related pressure and poor health is hardly a surprise. Given the amount of time most of us spend working, it’s natural for job-induced stress to spill over into actual health problems, high blood pressure being just one of them. But a new CareerBuilder survey unearths another hazard of holding down a job: weight gain.

Shockingly, 45 percent of Americans believe they’ve gained weight due to their jobs. Of those, 25 percent have put on at least 10 pounds in their current position, while 10 percent have piled on 20 pounds or more.

Now there are several explanations behind this trend. An estimated 53 percent of workers claim they’re put on weight because their jobs require them to be sedentary all the time. Meanwhile, 49 percent say they work so hard they don’t have the energy to exercise, while 34 percent put in too many hours and therefore can’t find the time.

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And let’s not forget that working in an office environment can cause us to make poor food-related decisions. Nearly a quarter of U.S. employees eat out at least three times a week instead of bringing lunch in from home — a habit that can hurt their wallets as much as their waistlines. Throw in the fact that many companies offer on-the-job snacks or parties as an added perk, and it’s no wonder so many workers are packing on pounds week after week.

If you’ve gained weight as a result of your job, it’s time to put an end to that unhealthy cycle. Here’s how.

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1. Take movement breaks throughout the day

It’s hard to stay in shape when you’re stuck at a desk all day, so if your job is sedentary by nature, make an effort to get moving. Schedule two or three breaks during the day where you walk around the office, go for a stroll outside, or even sneak in a quit set of pushups in the employee break room if you’re so motivated. Getting up from your desk is not only good for your body, but also, your mind. In fact, you’ll probably come to find that those breaks allow you to better focus on your key job-related tasks, thus improving your productivity.

2. Pack your own lunch

Unless you’re really limiting yourself to health foods such as salad, buying lunch almost always means getting a larger portion than you actually need to feel full and getting exposed to ingredients that add calories without much in the way of nutritional value. Packing your own lunch, therefore, is a great way to shed some pounds or at least avoid gaining more weight over the course of your job.

As a bonus, brown-bagging it can work wonders for your budget. Most food establishments charge a 300 percent markup on the items they serve, which means that if you typically spend $12 on lunch three times a week, you’re plunking down $36 on food you can make at home for just $9. And that’s a lot of money to be throwing away.

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3. Talk to your employer about instituting a wellness program

These days, a growing number of companies are introducing wellness programs designed to help their employees stay healthy. If your employer doesn’t offer this benefit, approach your manager or HR rep and stress the importance of getting perks such as gym membership subsidies, on-site nutritional counseling, and personal fitness equipment allowances. With any luck, your company will at least consider rolling out such a program over time.

You shouldn’t let your work wreck your health, so if you’ve been putting on weight because of your job, it’s time to nip that problem in the bud. Once you do, there’s a good chance your energy level will improve, and your performance will quickly follow suit.

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