On average an office worker spends about 1,800 hours at work per year. Averaging out to around 10 hours per day sitting time whilst in the office.
How many of us work through our lunch hours scoffing down food at your desks or whilst in meetings. Checking emails at weekends and while we are on holiday.
Is this looking after your health at work?
This sitting down time isn’t just happening when we are at work, never mind the sitting time we do in our own time. It can even affect those of us that are active outside of the workplace. Sitting at a desk for longer than four hours a day causes stiffness, back pain and muscular problems, and it can disrupt blood sugar levels. If your office is anything like my office, it’s always someone’s birthday or they’ve come back from holiday so there are cakes and biscuits building up just calling out my name. All this puts us at risk of type 2 diabetes and increases the chances of weight gain. Both of these can contribute to raising your risk of a heart attack, and many other illnesses.
If you regularly work through lunchtime and have poor food choices not only will this impact upon your physical health but on your mental health too. The after lunch slump, a drop in mood and productivity. If this is sustained it can contribute to increased stress levels and ill health. It’s not looking after your heart health in the workplace.
So what’s the answer?
Its simple isn’t it? Move more and sit less! If only it was that easy. With today’s technology we communicate across the world from our desks, we have virtual meetings, teleconferences, Skype for face to face, webinars and email so there isn’t even the need to go to the post room.
How can you get more active to maintain your health at work?
It is possible it just needs some thought. Perhaps you choose the furthest parking space, as a fast walk to and from the car will do you good. Try getting off the bus or train a stop early and walking fast the rest of the way to work and again back home. If you do travel by train, stand rather than sit and make sure you walk up the escalator as that will get your heart pumping.
How about standing meetings, it will ensure you keep to the agenda and that only meetings that are really necessary take place. You could even have informal 1:1 meetings taking a walk around the grounds, car park or nearby park, might be a bit difficult to write notes but in this day of technology we can make audio notes on our phones.
We’ve all heard take the stairs not the lift. Start easy, just walk one flight to begin with and build up as you get stronger. You’ll see how this improves your health at work. Go and see a colleague rather than ring them or send an email. Take a lunch time walk, or if you are feeling really eager and you have showers at work make it jog.
Drink more water, keep yourself hydrated. And for extra exercise offer to get the tea/coffee run that little bit extra makes a difference. Make sure it is decaffeinated although a cup or two with caffeine in the morning is fine.
So what are you having for lunch?
Make sure you are aware of the fat, sugar and salt content of the sandwich that you buy. Healthy salads again watch out for the dressing, coleslaw and mayonnaise. Have you considered taking a packed lunch?
If you have a staff canteen make sure you’re not eating two main meals a day, it’s an easy habit to slip into especially when I see the old fashioned school dinner puddings.
Remember to take time away from your desk to eat your meal. Give yourself a break, eat slowly, eat consciously and really taste the food. It gives you a break from work and will give your appestat time to register when you are full.
And those cakes and biscuits. Quit the cake. Why not get a fruit bowl, and choose healthy desk snacks. Try cinnamon spiced apple rings, dried fruit, and plain popcorn. Try unsalted nuts, chopped up vegetables with healthy dips or fruit yogurts. If you must have a biscuit then go plain something like a digestive or rich tea, the simpler and plainer the less sugar and saturated fat. Watch out for things like flapjacks, and banana muffins, they might sounds like they are better for you but unfortunately not check the packet for saturated fats, salt and sugar.
Take a break for your health at work
Make sure you take regular breaks from your computer screen. Ensure your office environment is set up comfortably for you; make sure you have a workplace assessment as physical stress can lead to emotional stress.
If you have a heavy workload, know when it’s time to say No. Alternatively, say yes but learn to respond with and what would you like me to stop doing to achieve this. Work stress is like any other stress it raises your blood pressure and puts a strain on your heart. Think about your health at work
Keep a good work-life balance and restore harmony in your life by setting boundaries around your time and sticking to them. It is important to make your life outside of work engaging, pleasurable and fun so that you enjoy being away from work.
Don’t skip breakfast. Make sure you use all your holiday entitlement and any Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) if you accrue it. Kill the clutter on your desk. Try to learn something new each week. And most importantly laugh lots.
Get on board look after your health at work with a workplace initiative
There are many health at work place initiatives to improve heart health in the workplace. If your organisation isn’t already you could ask them to get involved. You can find out more from the British Heart Foundation but there are others available, a little time on Google will find them. Why not hold a work place event to raise awareness about heart health?
Employees who take part in workplace health initiatives are generally more active, fitter, and less stressed. Workplace health initiatives can boost employee morale and increase job satisfaction, whilst helping reduce the risk of illness and disease.