10/07/2013

Good Health at Work

Whether you work fifteen or forty hours a week, your job can be physically and
mentally draining and affect your health and well-being. Prolonged sitting or
standing or poor posture can cause pain and other health effects; fatigue and
lack of sleep can make it difficult to concentrate, and inactivity and poor
eating choices can contribute to weight gain and other health issues.

But it's not all gloom and doom. With all the time you spend at work, the
workplace provides the ideal setting to promote healthy behaviours and prevent
disability and disease through healthy, safe work environments. Research has
shown that healthy organizations are good for employees, as well as the bottom
line. A healthy workplace has a culture and practices that support employee
health and safety and create comprehensive, successful and sustainable wellness
programs for their employees. It's no secret that healthy workplaces have a
competitive advantage and incur fewer costs associated with absenteeism,
recruitment, and healthcare. Healthy workers equal healthy organizations. Even
small, positive actions can make a big difference, and often have a ripple
effect. Here are some things you can do to help promote and achieve good health
at work.

Eat healthy

Employers can support healthy eating programs by providing time for employees
to go to information sessions, offering healthy food options in the cafeteria
and vending machines, or by having refrigerators and microwaves for employees
to store and prepare meals appropriately.

For the employee's perspective, eat at least every four hours to keep your
energy up. Preparing and packing your own lunch can be not only healthier -
giving you more control over hidden calories and fats - but cheaper as well.
Choose foods that have been prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or
salt. Use the Canadian Food Guide as a reference to prepare nutritious meals.
In the busy world we live in, you have to figure out what works best for you,
for example, making your lunch the night before. Planning ahead and being
organized are key to healthy eating. Keep healthy snacks on hand such as small
bags of nuts, raw vegetables or fruit, or cheese and yoghurt. Drink plenty of
water to prevent dehydration and keep muscles healthy.

Stretch it out and break it up

Sitting for prolonged periods may seem like a good way to be productive,
however it can be very unhealthy and place excessive strain on the body
systems, especially if your workstation is not set up correctly. Set an alarm
to remind yourself to get up, move around and change position. If working at a
computer - every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away. This
20-20-20 rule will help rest your eyes and help prevent eye strain. After 30
minutes of continuous typing, take a quick break to rest hands. Resist shaking
them out as that can cause injury to wrists. Do stretches at your desk to help
your circulation and avoid muscle and joint stiffness and discomfort. Employers
should encourage their employees to stretch and take their micro breaks to help
prevent the development of musculoskeletal disorders.

Watch your position and posture

Whether you work sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time, change body
positions frequently. Don't sit for more than 50 minutes at a time. It's
important to set up your desk or workstation to achieve good posture. When
sitting at a desk, position yourself close to the work station with your
shoulders relaxed, wrists straight, and elbows tucked in. Lumbar supports in
chairs can be helpful to reduce the likelihood of developing low back pain.
Monitors should be at eye level. Keep your keyboard close to you at a level
that doesn't require too much reaching and isn't too high or low. Sit with legs
flexed at a 90-degree angle with feet resting comfortably on the floor or foot
rest.

When lifting, use proper techniques such as using your legs and keeping the
object close to the middle of your body, to prevent being injured.

Keep moving

To walk extra steps, park a little further away, walk over to your coworker
rather than phoning or email, and walk to the furthest restroom. Take the
stairs where you can. If you feel really adventurous, try holding "walking"
meetings where you can go for a walk while you talk and meet.

For a true break, get away from the cubicle or out of the building. Take a walk
in the park or stroll along a quiet, calming street and experience nature. Not
only will you get some exercise, but you will also get a mental break that will
help relax and recharge you. Keep walking shoes and/or workout clothes close by
to make it easy to be active. If possible, try to exercise on your lunch break,
or before or after work.

Sleep well

Sleep is needed to restore the body, repair the damage from the day as well as
stimulate brain growth, consolidate memories, and for emotional rejuvenation.
It is very important to get a good night's sleep, which should be about seven
to eight hours per night. To promote good sleep, create a routine by going to
bed and getting up at the same times. Ensure that the room in which you sleep
is a cool, dark, quiet space. If necessary, use earplugs, an eye mask, and
darkening blinds. Time it so you aren't eating a large meal right before bed
time.

Make good health a habit

The workplace can play an important role in worker health by providing a safe
and healthy physical work environment, ensuring a healthy balance between
workers' home and work lives and control over the work, and supporting healthy
lifestyles by making the healthy choice, be the easy choice.

Employees can develop healthy habits and make healthy choices at home and at
work to feel better both physically and mentally.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety