Considering many of us spend a good chunk of our lives working, it’s worth thinking about how your job affects your health. A recent survey found nearly 55% of workers think they’re overweight, with stress levels higher than ever. Work can be very rewarding, but proper care for your health is essential if you want to maximise your effectiveness . So here’s some ideas to keep you healthy in the workplace.
Choose an active career
According to occupational health adviser Sophie Gask, “An active job where you’re moving around is the healthiest job you can have”. Active careers might range from the very active gardeners, cleaners, sports instructors, military service and refuse collectors to the moderately active nurses, construction workers, decorators and tourist guides.
Remember, jobs might not always involve the activity levels you expect. Surprisingly, the jobsearch company CareerBuilder found teaching and engineering to be among the careers most likely to make you overweight. It’s also worth noting that very physically demanding jobs also create more wear and tear which, in later years, can mean the job can cause its own health problems.
Choose a career with minimal stress
No career is completely stress-free, and a little stress can be good for us. However, just like inactivity, too much stress is a real health baddy contributing to chronic conditions like heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes .
The most stressful careers are considered to be those which are dangerous, involve lots of travel, physical demands, competitiveness, deadlines or jobs which are insecure. The careers website CareerCast.com earlier in 2013 identified the most stressful careers to be taxi drivers, police officers, public relations executives, fire fighters and airline pilots, with military personnel topping the stress charts.
Thankfully there are plenty of careers which are lower down the pressure-gauge. CareersCast found the least stressful jobs of 2013 to be seamstresses/tailors, jewellers, Medical Lab Technicians, audiologists, dieticians, librarians and hairdressers, with university professors being the least stressed.
Are you sitting comfortably?
As humans, we are not designed to be sitting down all day. So those with desk jobs for years on end may start to suffer health problems including back and knee problems, obesity and RSI. To avoid musculature problems make sure to rotate your activities so you’re not repeating the same movements continually. Adopt a good sitting posture with your back following its natural curves. Ensure your desk and chair are ergonomically checked to give you the best posture. Take lots of mini breaks – every 30 minutes or so get up and move around. if you are on a mobile phone, walk around or go outside.
Get on your bike
The health benefits of commuting by bike are huge. Recent research by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine discovered that riding a bike to work is one of the best ways to improve your overall health, even if you are already relatively active.
Of course, many people really have to drive to work, but if there’s even the slightest possibility of commuting on bike you should consider it. Some workers also drive part of the way, then cycle the rest, like a sort of ‘park and ride’ scheme. A friend of mine has a 32 mile commute for which he drives the first 20 miles, then cycles the rest. If you don’t have a bike then check if your employer will help you take advantage of the national Cycle to Work Scheme which can help you buy a decent bike tax-free.
Have active breaks
As we gaze at screens fewer calories are being burned and this is thought to be a major contributor to the global obesity problem. So get up regularly and move around when you can.
The time during your lunchbreak or before and after work may be the perfect time to get some enjoyable activity in. Go for a quick run, swim or use the gym. Most workplaces now firmly support and encourage the health of their employees. The CareerBuilder survey found 33% of employees had access to workout facilities at work or were given gym passes.
If you really can’t get out of the office, try to grab any moments you can to be active. Use the lift when you can, do some squats, wall presses or leg lifts while you’re waiting for the photocopier. Keep a pair of mini dumbbells under your desk. Take in healthy snacks to give you the energy to want to move!
If you really feel that you have no time to exercise then perhaps it’s time to question your work/leisure balance. Is there really any point in working yourself into the ground for years only to discover you have developed a preventable health condition when you reach retirement? Take positive steps to keep active and lower stress so you can enjoy your life right now. Surely that’s the best possible insurance for the future.
by Kath Webb
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