A healthy body and mind is an important part of a productive workday. But for most of us, our weekdays consist of sitting at a desk for roughly 40 hours a week – sometimes with poor posture. Because of our sedentary ways, it seems impossible to achieve our health and fitness goals. You don’t have to have stashes of candy bars to have a work environment that isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. It’s the little things we don’t think about that keep us from reaching our health goals. As they say, the devil’s in the details. So, here are four tips to help encourage eight-to-five wellness for you and your employees!
Get Up, Stand Up
Sometimes, workers can go hours without ever getting out of their chairs. One problem with this is that they aren’t getting the needed movement to help regulate blood flow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that sitting for a prolonged period of time can be linked to serious health risks and chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. In 2011, the CDC started the Take-a-Stand Project, which showed that employees who stood for just one extra hour a day saw a significant reduction in fatigue and pain and an increase in productivity and energy levels. Encourage your staff to take breaks from their desks to walk around the office or even a short stroll outside. This can do wonders for morale and can help get those creative juices flowing again. And if all else fails, find interesting ways to get around the office.
Keep an Arsenal of Healthy Foods to Stave off Hunger
Parents and communities have been hard at work to get healthier food options in school cafeterias and vending machines, and companies are following suit. In fact, the state of California is currently looking at proposed legislation to ban junk food and sugar-loaded drinks from vending machines on government property. You don’t have to ban all types of guilty-pleasure foods, but offering your employees access to healthier options is a great way to support the overall health of your team. In fact, a poll from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 97% of employees responded favorably to employer efforts to promote more healthy food options. And foods like almonds, dried fruit, and energy bars can help keep hunger at bay. Healthy alternatives will also keep workers from having the all-too-common “afternoon crash.” And if you’re one who has to have chocolate, keep dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao at your desk. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and can actually help with blood circulation.
Use Competition to Get Results
When it comes to competition, no one actually enjoys losing. Olympic athletes don’t train for years to try to come in last place. So when it comes to workplace wellness, a little competition can be the spark needed to push your office to a healthier lifestyle – and build unity. One way to implement this is to create a “Biggest Loser” competition at work. However, tracking weight loss among co-workers may be a little taboo. A less-invasive alternative could be to simply have a points system that is charted in the break room. For example, a healthy meal or 30 minutes of exercise can count as one wellness point, whereas an unhealthy meal would be a negative merit, lowering the participant’s overall score. Whoever has the most points by the end of the week or month wins.
Make the Most of Breaks
For many, it can be difficult to get away from the desk for more than five minutes, so extra time is treated like gold. For most workers, lunch breaks are the only allotted time for themselves. Even though going to lunch with co-workers can be good for unity, using that break for physical activity may be a better use of time. If your office has a gym, encourage people to get in there to release the stress and pressure of day-to-day activities. Taking walks around the building can also do the trick. And it’s a great way to get that much-needed dose of Vitamin D.
No matter the measures taken to ensure a healthier workplace, workers may not stick with them if there isn’t any encouragement. Although, one strand of string isn’t that strong, when joined together by more strands, it becomes a strong rope. Accountability works the same way. If workers are encouraging others and you’re doing your part to take certain measures to create an environment conducive to health and wellness, your office can be a healthier and more productive space.