Health Department

Stay Healthy at Work

Stay Healthy at Work
by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
February 25, 2014

With so many hours spend at the workplace, sometimes finding any extra time spent to benefit your health can get put on the back burner. 

However,there are things you can do at work to stay healthy and help prevent healthproblems such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Even if yourworkplace doesn’t have a worksite wellness program, it is still possible to notto let your health fall to the wayside.

Afull-time employee will usually eat at least one meal or snack within theworkplace environment each day. Try your best to find time to plan meals andsnacks to bring to work. Anytime you can prepare your own, it will be healthierand cheaper. Try to pack healthy items, such as a nice balance of fruits,vegetables, whole-grains, and lean proteins. Remember to watch your servingsize as well.

Itcan be difficult to avoid hitting the vending machines or indulging in a tastytreat in the office, but it helps to have pre-portioned snacks on hand. Smallbags of nuts or snack mix you make yourself, or a small bag of fruit likeapples or grapes are a great option to have around. If you didn’t bringanything and the vending machine is calling your name, try to pick a proteinbar, granola bar, baked chips, or pretzels instead of a candy bar.

Ifyou have a cafeteria at work, be aware of what options are available to you.Many cafeterias have a rating system to guide you to the healthier items. It'salso important to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and to keepmuscles healthy. Although they might be tasty, staying away from sugar filledbeverages is another easy step to take. Cutting out one can of regular popevery day can help you lose 14 pounds in a year!

Asecond area of importance is physical activity. We all know that getting enoughphysical activity every day is critical to our health. However, many of us arein an office environment, in which we spend the majority of our day sitting ina chair behind a desk. It is important to encourage yourself and fellowemployees to stay physically active throughout the workday.

Ifyour worksite is multi-level, take the stairs. Use your lunch break for eatingand exercising. Take half of your time to eat and use the other half to walkaround the building or on a nearby path or sidewalk outside. You may even beable to make your desk a mini gym. If there's available space, desks and otheroffice furniture can double as exercise equipment. During your breaks you cando simple activities to build your strength. Keep a small set of dumbbells orresistance bands under your desk that you can use while you're on the phone. Ortry sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair, which will help posture andkeep the abdominal muscles tight.

Try to take breaks every hour or two to get up and move. Insteadof sending an email, walk down to your coworker and deliver the message thatway. Setting an alarm to remind yourself to get up and walk around is also asimple and effective strategy. And meetings don't always have to take placeinside the office. If it's possible, try walking meetings.

One of the top things that get people into trouble as far as adowngrade in their health is their posture. Certain ergonomic changes canreally make a difference, including: sitting close to the work station, keepingmonitors at eye level, keeping the keyboard (or steering wheel) at a level thatdoesn't require too much reaching and isn't too high or low, sitting with legsflexed at a 90-degree angle with feet resting comfortably on the floor, andlifting objects with the legs and keep the object close to the body and towardthe middle of the trunk.

You don’t have to do all of these things atonce. Make weekly goals, adding more of these suggestions as you can. You willfind that you end the work week feeling much better!