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Posts Tagged ‘Workplace Wellness’

man and woman in business attire out for a walk

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2019 is to move more. I know that to be successful with my goal, I am going to have to incorporate physical activity into my 8 hour work day. Sitting for hours every day depletes my energy and leaves me feeling sluggish.

Being more physically active can reduce coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Other benefits of being more active include more energy, better sleep, a more active mind, and less stress. These are all beneficial, especially to my professional career, but again, it’s my job every day that is providing the most periods of sitting or sedentary behavior. This is problematic as research has called sitting “the new smoking”, and long periods of sitting have been linked to early death.

With a little effort and creative thinking, I was able to find some ways every day to accomplish my goal and work more physical activity into my time at work. Here are a few ideas to try:

Incorporate What You Like to do in Small Ways at Work: I take a barre class twice a week. In class, we use light weights and a small playground ball. I purchased an extra set for my office, so when I feel the need to move, I can grab them and do a few moves. If barre isn’t for you, grab a yoga ball to sit on, or bring in equipment you use and are familiar with.

Involve Your Office: Chances are good there is someone else in your office with a similar goal. Ask your coworkers to join you, or look for an office challenge to participate in. An office challenge can have the benefits of increasing physical activity, building office unity, and usually will provide an incentive. You could also suggest standing office meetings, which can provide an opportunity for activity but also help increase the productivity of meetings. Standing meetings can be up to 25% shorter than standard meetings!

Incorporate Physical Activity into Breaks or Lunch: Taking a walk during a break or planning to spend part of your lunch walking or taking an exercise class can be beneficial when trying to increase physical activity.

Walk or Ride Your Bike to Work: Consider starting your commute with some physical activity, if you live close enough to work to do so. If walking or riding isn’t an option, try parking a little farther away to increase your activity before and after work.

Consider Your Day: Can you walk over to a coworker instead of sending an email? Is walking and dropping a letter in the mailbox an option instead of adding it to the mail pile? Could you take the stairs instead of the elevator? Be aware of your daily habits and look for opportunities to include activity in the things you do every day.

Set a Timer: Consider setting a timer or alarm reminding you to stand up and stretch or go for a quick walk at certain points throughout the day. If you have a standing desk, use a timer to remind you to use your desk.

Need more ideas to stay active during your workday? Take a look at these exercises you can do from your office, and comment below with whatever strategies you might add to the list!

 

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed By: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

 

Sources:

American Cancer Society (2018). Staying Active at Work. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/tips-for-staying-active-at-work.html

John Hopkins Medicine. Risks of Physical Inactivity. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/risks_of_physical_inactivity_85,p00218

Lobb, J. (2018). Work it at Work. Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2018/05/03/work-it-at-work/

Medline Plus. Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle. https://medlineplus.gov/healthrisksofaninactivelifestyle.html

Remley, D. (2016). Take a Stand Against Sitting. Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/06/08/take-a-stand-against-sitting/

Rini, J. (2015). Workplace Wellness Trend: Standing Desks. https://livehealthyosu.com/2015/08/13/workplace-wellness-trend-standing-desks/

Taparia, N. (2014). Kick the Chair: How Standing Cut Our Meeting Times by 25%. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/06/19/kick-the-chair-how-standing-cut-our-meeting-times-by-25/#7ea9900535fe

 

 

 

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What’s in Your Breakroom?

breakroomIs there a breakroom in your office or place of work? If so, how would you describe it? Is it warm and inviting? Large? Small? Bright? Dark? Think about the food that you see on the counter tops, if any at all. Does your breakroom support people who are striving to make healthy choices? Or, like mine, is it a place full of tempting but unhealthy food that you try to avoid?

Research suggests that taking short breaks during the work day can improve focus and increase productivity, but the breakroom may not be the best place to take a breather- depending on the foods that are available there. A breakroom full of sweet treats can quickly sabotage the best diet-related intentions. A breakroom free of unhealthy choices, on the other hand, can support physical health while also promoting socialization and collaboration amongst coworkers.

If the food environment in your breakroom is less than ideal, consider making or advocating for the following changes:

  • Make sure that drinking water and cups are freely available to all. Water may be 2015-09-24 18.41.07 (1)accessible via a water cooler, drinking fountain, or filtered pitcher that is kept in the fridge.
  • Provide access to a refrigerator and microwave so that coworkers can safely store and prepare healthy lunches from home.
  • Celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays, with fruit instead of cake.
  • Use a potluck sign-up sheet, such as those created by the Growing Healthy Kids Columbus Coalition, for office gatherings where food will be served.
  • Get rid of candy dishes. Replace with bowls of fruit, if desired.Fruit Basket
  • Create a healthy snack cabinet.
  • Establish a “no dumping” policy to discourage coworkers from bringing cakes, cookies or other desserts from home.
  • Encourage your director or CEO to sign a healthy meeting pledge to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to supporting a culture of health in the workplace.

If it seems daunting to advocate for these changes, take heart in knowing that a growing body of research supports improving the office food environment to support the health of employees. Healthy meeting resources from the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association may assist you in making these changes. Once you speak up, you may be surprised by the number of coworkers who favor such changes. A healthier workplace has benefits for all!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

References:

American Cancer Society (2009). Meeting Well. http://www.acsworkplacesolutions.com/meetingwell.asp

American Heart Association (2015). Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage toolkit. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_465693.pdf

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011). Brief Diversions Vastly Improve Focus, Researchers Find. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208131529.htm

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Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, those of us with primarily office-based jobs tend to do an awful lot of sitting. Research has consistently shown that too much sitting is associated with several risks to our health, including reduced blood flow, spinal issues related to hunching over a desk, and lack of activity which is linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease and a shorter lifespan.

As more people have taken notice of this research, some workers have been conscious about standing up regularly to take breaks from sitting throughout the day, using the stairs more often than the elevator, astanding desknd even having standing or walking meetings. I recently decided to take it one “step” further and invest in a standing desk. I now stand all day instead of sitting! Of course, there are times when I sit, but the majority of my day is spent standing up and working. After all, I do enough sitting in the car, during meals, and while watching TV or reading in the evening.

One immediate benefit I have noticed since I began using my standing desk is that the tension that I used to carry in my upper back and shoulders has been relieved. I believe this is a result of no longer sitting in the “computer” position, hunched over my screen for excessive amounts of time. (I have heard this condition referred to as ‘tech neck’). I also notice that since I started standing at work, I have a decreased feeling of the ‘afternoon drag’, where I feel my energy start to get low, which – whether I realized it or not – very likely affected my productivity. Now at my standing desk, I find my energy level is more consistent and that sleepy feeling after lunch seems to have disappeared. A similar experience with transitioning to a standing desk is reported in Harvard Business Review.

An added bonus to standing is more calories burned during the day. A research study from the University of Chester in the UK showed that standing promotes a higher heart rate – on average, about ten beats per minute higher than the average sitting heart rate. This translates to .7 calories per minute – or about 50 calories per hour. Replacing sitting with standing for about three hours per day over the course of a year would burn about an extra 30,000 calories, or about eight pounds of fat! If you add to that all of the other benefits of standing more, such as improved blood glucose level regulation, strengthening muscles, and increased balance, you might consider wheeling your office chair right out the door!

Author: Joanna Rini, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Medina County. rini.41@osu.edu

Reviewer: Candace Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Morrow County. heer.7@osu.edu

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24532996

https://hbr.org/2010/08/the-many-benefits-of-standing.html

http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/172/4/419.abstract

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13 December 31 - Work Life BalanceGenerally, it is assumed that if an employee is absent, his or her productivity must be suffering.  Conversely, if the same employee is putting in extra time and skipping vacations, he or she must be highly productive.  But these assumptions are not always true.  A recent study conducted by England’s Manchester University, showed that overworking creates more stress and lessens personal time.  This has a trickle-down effect, and employees are actually less productive than if they had just worked their assigned hours and taken scheduled vacation time.

The phenomenon is dubbed “presenteeism,” a first cousin to employee absenteeism (Named by Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at ManchesterUniversity in England).  Presenteeism, simply put, is when people come to work but aren’t functioning fully because they have physical or mental health problems.

Data suggests that presenteeism is a larger productivity drain than either absenteeism or short-term disability.  Given the seriousness of the situation, employers and employees need to take a proactive stance.

             Here are a few tips to address the issue of presenteeism.

  • Strike the work-life balance.  Achieving a balance means different things to different people, but it’s important to achieve a balance that is comfortable for you and your family.
  • Support and maintain regular work hours.  Working long hours or taking work home on a routine basis is strongly discouraged.
  • Honor vacation time and sick leave provisions.  Make it a habit to use your full annual leave.
  • Plan your day.  Work from a to-do list.  Take 10 minutes each morning to identify those things that need to be accomplished.
  • Recognize your peak energy times.  Do the tough tasks when your energy level is at its highest.  Save routine work for low points of the day.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep.  Your body cannot make up for lost sleep or rest time because it’s not physiologically possible.
  • Preserve your days off.  Make your days off strictly personal time. Ignore errands and chores.  Focus on yourself, relax and refresh.
  • Eat a balanced diet.  Workaholics are known to skip meals, thus eating poorly.
  • Exercise.  Set aside time each day to give your body the proper physical conditioning it needs.

As you begin 2014, make a resolution to work so you can live and have a comfortable life.  Remember that you don’t live to work.  Don’t make work your life.

Written by:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, PerryCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Polly Loy, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Belmont County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lindimore, Office Associate, OSU Extension, MorganCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

References

Farrell, P. (2013, May). The Real 800-Pound Gorilla of Presenteeism. Retrieved December 18, 2013 from blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/the-worst-kind-of-presenteeism/

Hochschild, A. (1997).  The time blind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York: Holt.

Hummer, J., Sherman, B., & Quinn, N. (2002, April).  Present and Unaccounted for. Occupational Health Safety.  2002 Apr; 7 1 4):40-2, 44, 100.

Johns, G. (2009). Presenteeism in the workplace: A review and research agenda Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31 (4), 519-542 DOI: 10.1002/job.630

Lewis, S. & Cooper, Cary L. (1999).  The Work-Family Research Agenda in Changing Contexts. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 4, 382-393.

Lewis, S. & Cooper, Cary L. (1996).  Balancing the work and family interface: A European perspective.  Human Resource Management Review, 5, 289-305.

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