Tips for Staying Healthy at Work
Tips for Staying Healthy at Work
Spring has sprung, and temperatures are on the rise. For some, that means family vacations to the beach, Fourth of July pool parties and yes, a bathing suit. How is that summer body going? Are you ready, or did you do like I did and slack off a little too much at the gym and pack on a few extra pounds over the winter? I remember in high school being able to eat anything I wanted, as much as I wanted, and not gain a pound. Now, over 30 years later, I can think about a donut and gain weight.
While I do love a good beach and a good donut, we aren’t here to talk about those things. We also aren’t talking about the sometimes unrealistic idea of an athlete’s physique as a lot of social media platforms seem to portray. In this week’s blog we are discussing negative health habits in the workplace, how they affect our health, and ways we can improve.
Let’s start with some data. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 4.2 million workers in January 2018 missed work because they had an illness, injury, medical problem, or doctor’s appointment. That was higher than the number of workers who missed work for the same reasons in January of recent years. The last time more than four million workers had missed work for the same reasons in January was in 2013. About 2.9 million people in January 2018 who usually work full-time worked part-time because of an illness, injury, or medical problem or appointment. Another 1.3 million employed people did not work at all during the survey reference week for the same reasons.
In 1960, 50% of jobs required moderate physical activity, in 2018 only 20% of jobs required the same. 2015-2016 studies on sedentary jobs showed significant increases in obesity (14.3% to 39.8%), diabetes diagnosis (.91% to 7.4%), and even death. People who spend the most time sitting are 50% more likely to die than those who sit the least even with healthy habits in place. Did that get your attention?
How to Stay Healthy at Work
Data aside, there are health situations that are unavoidable, like those arising from heredity, yet there are many we can control and/or avoid, like those arising from too many donuts, too many margaritas on the beach, or, as we will discuss, poor habits at work. When we lead an unhealthy lifestyle, there are negative consequences that affect more than just you when you are sick and absent from the workplace. Examples include:
- Loss of pay
- Decline in workplace reputation
- Excessive absence discipline
- Increased workload
- Undesired overtime
- Increased accidents
- Conflict with absent worker
- Increased coordination problems
- Decreased productivity
- Increased cost
- More grievances
- Increased accidents
Most of us have at least a general idea of how to take care of our health outside the workplace. Maintain a healthy body weight, drink plenty of water, reduce salt intake, exercise regularly, etc. What about at work? Do you do anything at work to maintain healthy habits or do you just go in for the 8-5 grind? Adopting healthy habits and sticking to them at work can positively affect all areas of your life. You will be able to improve your physical and mental health and your productivity and performance as well. Moreover, by maintaining healthy habits at your workplace, you will be able to inspire your co-workers to do the same. While this list isn’t all-inclusive, let’s look at a few things not to do in the work environment and ways almost all of us can improve.
How to Feel Better at Work
Don’t Fuel Yourself on Coffee Alone
This one my strike a chord with some. Drinking coffee without food can wreak havoc on your digestive system and may disrupt your body’s release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is your body’s alarm system, and it helps regulate blood pressure, control sleep and wake cycles, and boost energy so you can manage stress. It naturally peaks between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. According to experts, drinking coffee between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. may be best to help your body’s stress support system.
Don’t Sit for Long Periods Without Getting Up
I’ve got bad news that you don’t want to sit down for. All that time you spend in your office chair can lead to weight gain, double your risk for diabetes, and significantly increase your chance of getting heart disease or dying early of any cause. Sadly, your morning run or evening CrossFit workout won’t reverse the risk. Improvements: Use a sit-stand workstation like we do here at Tower Street, go for a walk at lunch, take the stairs instead of an elevator, or use a timer to get up every 20 to 30 minutes. Stretch and walk around. This is one function I love about my Apple watch. I sometimes forget how long I’ve been sitting, and it reminds me to stand up and move around.
This one also may strike a chord with some. You scroll through emails while you polish off a panini. You hardly taste the food, and an hour later, you don’t remember whether you ate at all. The kitchen is full of snacks. Sound familiar? In one survey, 28 percent of workers said they seldom, if ever, take a break to eat lunch and 39 percent said they routinely eat at their desks. That’s a problem because research suggests how you eat is as important as what you eat. Improvements: Put your work away and leave your desk. If possible, sit down and chew every bite thoroughly. Meal prep healthy meals and snacks for the week.
Hydration & Posture are Key at Staying Healthy at Work
Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. Always make sure that you drink enough water throughout your day at work. Not drinking enough water can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. Try to drink at least 2 liters of water daily to stay adequately hydrated and focused at work. If you have a physically demanding job, consume more water.
Maintain Proper Posture
Always sit upright and maintain proper posture at work. Bad posture can cause a myriad of health problems such as neck pain, back pain, eye fatigue, and so forth. It can also create a decrease in productivity and concentration levels. Therefore, make sure to maintain proper posture to stay energized and productive at work.
In conclusion, unless you work in a spa, you may never transform your workplace into a health retreat. But by ditching your unhealthy work habits, you can improve your health and wellbeing and may boost your creativity and productivity in the process.
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