While modern medicine offers advances in treating disease, it’s hard to imagine we’re really in better health than earlier generations that benefited from a higher level of physical activity and real, unadulterated foods.
In fact, more and more research comes out that tells us we need to restore many aspects of the lifestyle of our ancestors, people who were active in spurts throughout their day if not in sustained workouts and who ate from their own unsprayed, local farms and gardens.
If your workplace isn’t a farm or a gym, though, here are 5 tips to enhance workplace health, improving work performance and longevity for your staff. Enlist the support of your employees in making your office environment as healthy a place as possible, keeping these tips in mind:
1. Move. Everyone needs to move vigorously in spurts throughout the day whether or not they also do regular workouts. Unless your office space is a gym, the chances are good that people spend most of their time at work in chairs in front of computers or on phones. Standing desks are a recent popular introduction to the office space, but standing for prolonged periods has its own problems. A sit-stand desk is another option. Whatever solution you choose, be sure it includes simply getting up and moving around every hour in addition to regular workouts.
That means a first step toward encouraging good health is to find ways to counteract the fact that many offices encourage immobility. Why is this important? A study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine links sitting for prolonged periods of time to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death — even in people who get regular exercise.
2. Don’t multi-task. Many jobs make multi-tasking part of the job requirements. We’ve always thought that was a good thing. Not so fast. Numerous studies point out that multi-tasking reduces productivity, adds stress, causes health problems and reduces longevity.
3. Eat real food. As Michael Pollan says so simply and succinctly in In Defense of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Include a space for comfortable eating in your workplace plans with some minimal equipment for heating or keeping cold. Encourage employees to bring in, for themselves or to share, only real food and to keep processed, unhealthy items out of the office. Remember to set a good example!
If a building cafeteria hasn’t caught on to the wellness revolution yet, or the only nearby eateries are fast food, health-conscious employees will appreciate the facility you provide in-house. Sites like drfuhrman.com will help everyone get up-to-date on the latest in how to eat healthfully. Bring in a wellness coach for a staff meeting to generate some good ideas.
4. Drink. Yeah, not that. Although a glass of red wine when you get home won’t hurt and is probably a good thing. What we’re talking about here, though, is water. Good, pure water. Encourage employees to keep it next to them at all times and to keep sipping. Remind them to keep water in clean glasses, not in plastic. Lemon or lime slices add flavor and a few electrolytes.
5. Be merry. Various studies indicate that the well-worn phrase, “laughter is the best medicine,” is true. Laughter improves memory and reduces stress. It stimulates many organs, stimulates the immune system and relieves pain. Create an environment where people can laugh in the course of their days.
For more ideas about creating a healthy workplace if you’re not working on a farm or in a gym, please contact us.