How to Stay Healthy at the Office

The importance of continued physical activity and movement, regardless of whether at work or play, is well documented. Sitting still for prolonged periods can lead to devastating health issues, including blocked arteries, heart disease and weight gain, while such inactivity often contributes to stress and depression. Self-employment and business ownership can be demanding, with long days and late nights sapping energy and morale. Physical fitness, then, is the key to mental and bodily wellbeing, helping to prevent some of the biggest causes of work place illness and absence – not to mention improving concentration, morale, productivity and job satisfaction.

At a time when it makes perfect business sense for employees to keep fit and well, it has never been more important for the self-employed and small business managers to take note and up their game. After all, exercise can establish a healthy work-life balance, which is something many hard workers and high flyers struggle to maintain.

Top tips for incorporating movement into the workplace

Understanding the importance of movement and exercise, and incorporating such initiatives into the workplace are two different concepts. While the average adult needs just 30 minutes of exercise per day, few people actually get around to meeting such a target. Work has a habit of getting in the way of such endeavors. However, those same people often fail to realize just how easy it is to incorporate movement into the workplace. From standing during meetings and using the stairs, to exercising around spreadsheets and using break times more efficiently, there are numerous ways that small business owners and the self-employed can exercise. Remaining fit is simply a case of knowing where to start…

Healthy initiatives

Perhaps the easiest way to introduce a healthier lifestyle at work is to take things a step at a time and to make numerous small changes, rather than one or two huge leaps. The workplace is a great place for incentives to be given, and those heading a small team should consider the healthy initiatives that they could incorporate into daily office life. Activities such as walking to and from work, leaving the bus or subway a stop early, taking the stairs, and walking to see a colleague rather than sending an email can make a world of difference. A step count challenge, or similar, friendly, competition, could really set the workplace’s pulses racing. The self-employed may consider a comparable personal challenge, allowing themselves small treats or rewards upon completion of certain tasks.

It’s also important for workers to recognize the value of break times. At these points during each day, workers should be reminded to get up and move about, enabling them to renew their batteries and regain a little of the concentration they may have lost up to that point. Managers should consider the policies they could set in place, such as flexible scheduling, frequent break times and adaptable offices. In order to retain health and stability in a workforce, such investments are invaluable.

Encouragement for the less able

It’s important for those in charge of small workforces to provide gentle encouragement and inspiration to their team, and to recognize when a person may be struggling to keep up with the physical endeavors suggested each day. Senior staff members and those with any number of existing ailments are still an integral part of any team, and should be provided with the same level of support when it comes to incorporating movement and exercise into the workplace.

The kinds of clothing that workers are expected to wear in the office can go a long way towards supporting a healthy attitude to exercise, and options for women’s workout pants and men’s supportive garments should be given. Uniforms and work wear should be comfortable and accommodating wherever safe and possible, while access to exercise equipment and aids can provide real incentive and encouragement. The self-employed should take heed too; it’s still perfectly possible for them to remain fit and active, despite any number of underlying issues, as long as medical advice is sought.

Altering the perception of work

Working at a desk for long periods of time can seriously affect concentration, and lead to issues with posture and muscle density. Altering a person’s perception of how their work can, and should be completed can go a long way towards halting such health problems. Standing up to type, take phone calls or dictate messages is a great place to start, and encourages anyone and everyone to get up out of their seats and take more notice of the task at hand. Similarly, incorporating desk and chair workouts, such as stretches and lunges, means that workers and the self-employed never have to stray too far from their commitments in order to get a healthy dose of exercise.

The workplace should become a place that is conducive to exercise, rather than passivity. Other ideas include computer prompts to take a break and stretch, common areas with simple exercise equipment or inspiration to move, stand-up meetings, and encouraging staff members via education – simply providing that motivation and incentive is often enough to alter a person’s habits irrevocably.

There are numerous benefits to incorporating movement into the workplace, and a great many ways to achieve such a feat. From wellness benefits, such as gym and spa memberships, to healthy eating initiatives and team building activities, small business owners needn’t fear the mention of exercise. Similarly, there are a great many ways that the self-employed can incorporate movement into the workplace, regardless of whether they rent a small office or work at home. Simply using the stairs, or heading out for a brisk walk before or after completing tasks can make the world of difference, and should become an integral part of every day.


Chris Lewis

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