The importance of health in the workplace
Many of us are desk bound more than ever before, whether that is working from home, or working in an office. At the same time we are also in a climate of being ever so busy, and finding it increasingly difficult to spend time looking after our own well-being. As employment lawyers, we understand the benefits of healthy working practices and yet sometimes during a busy day we also benefit from a reminder to step away from our screens and enjoy the fresh air and get moving.
Healthy habits- start small to make a change
Mel Boyle nutritionist and founder of Smart Balanced Living suggests ways to help us all to adopt healthy habits while we are at our desks and explains that each little change can help towards our well-being.
“When sitting it is really important to sit properly and be aware of your posture in order that you put the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments. Sit with your back straight and shoulders back. A small rolled up towel can maintain the natural curve in your back.” There is emerging evidence that shows there is an increased risk of chronic disease the longer you sit, however, if this time is interrupted it could be beneficial to your cardio-metabolic health (Thorpe et. al., 2012).
Mel recommends trying to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time. She says doing the following stretches at your desk or changing position even for a short while is likely to be of benefit.
“A neck stretch will help ease tight muscles- touch each the ear to shoulder and hold for a few seconds, stretch each side. For a chest stretch to open the chest, stretch both arms back as if trying to hold something between your shoulder blades. To help with lower body strength, extend one leg out in front and hold for 2 seconds, raise it as high as possible and hold for another 2 seconds, repeat each leg 5 to 10 times.”
Explore ways to make your work more mobile
Mel explains that there is evidence to show that taking a break from sitting and enjoying brief spells of walking, improves glucose and insulin levels after eating, which can benefit your metabolism (Bailey and Locke, 2015). Mel suggests that we achieve this with a quick walk after lunch or perhaps hold a walking meeting instead of sitting down over a coffee or park the car at the furthest part of the car park and recommends that we try to take the stairs instead of the lift.
Sometimes, the type of tasks necessitate that we sit for longer periods, as some professions may have lengthy documents to read. Mel recommends investing in an APP which converts text to audio allowing the user listen to the documents while being on the move.
You can find out more information about Mel and her business here
Thorp, A.A., Healy1, G.N., Winkler, E., Clark, B.K., Gardiner, P.A., Owen, N. and Dunstan, D.W. 2012. Prolonged sedentary time and physical activity in workplace and non-work contexts: a cross-sectional study of office, customer service and call centre employees. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Vol. 9, Iss.128. pp. 1-9.
Bailey, D.P. and Locke, C.D., 2015. Acute effects of breaking up prolonged sitting with standing and light-intensity physical activity on cardiometabolic risk factors. Journal and Science and Medicine in Sport. pp. 1-19.