November 9, 2012
With millions of individuals working in office settings, healthy living at the office is gradually becoming more of a concern. Some maintain that healthy living begins and ends in the home. However, while the home should certainly provide a healthy atmosphere, the office should do the same in reinforcing this idea.
Why an Office Environment Should Inspire Healthy Living
Many people spend a third of the workweek in the office setting. These offices can include anything from the standard cubicle, to individual offices, to more communal settings such as the nurses’ station at a hospital. Since so much of life is spent in these environments, they should set the standard for healthy living or at least back up the healthfulness that is being practiced at home. Many healthy techniques require little more than thoughtfulness, while others may require some money, time and planning to carry out. In addition, some of the following tips must be adopted by office managers, while others are simple habits that any employee can acquire and pass on to coworkers. It’s good though, to not fall in to certain diet myths when planning your new office life.
Ways to Inspire Office Workers to Healthier Living
- Installing a water cooler with purified water will encourage adequate hydration among workers. Dehydration has been known to cause numerous health complaints from the simple headache to mental confusion. In addition, having to walk to the water cooler will encourage increased physical movement.
- Vending machines are typically found in office settings. However, management can choose to have them filled with healthy choices such as granola bars, microwaveable soups and dried fruits instead of the usual chips and cookies. Healthy drinks such as fruit and vegetable juices as well as flavored water can also be offered.
- Placing live plants around the office benefits workers in a couple ways. First, these plants increase the beauty of the surroundings by adding color and life. Second, they are well known for cleansing the air of carbon dioxide while increasing oxygen and for increasing the humidity in a room, which is important for skin and respiratory health.
- Providing adequate breaks with changes in scenery can decrease stress and increase cooperation and camaraderie among workers. Workers who are given a choice to remain in the office during a break or to leave should take the opportunity to have a change in environment. This can also help mental organization.
- Walking or other physical movement should be encouraged by office management during lunch breaks. The best way to do this is to provide long enough lunch periods for workers to be able to eat as well as exercise. Employees could find a nearby park or city block to walk around or could simply take a few flights of stairs to stretch their muscles.
- Some larger companies are able to provide a gym in the office building for the use of their employees. This is a great solution for offices located in particularly cold or rainy environments where employees may find it difficult to spend time outside during breaks.
- An office should have adequate bright lighting, especially if there are no windows nearby. Because natural light promotes mental alertness, full-spectrum light bulbs should be used for workers who do not have access to natural light. Full-spectrum lighting is far better than fluorescent bulbs.
- Using one or more air purifiers based on the size of the office can filter dust and allergens from the air, thereby reducing asthma and other respiratory problems. In fact, a study performed by the United States Department of Agriculture showed that using ionized air purifiers could also greatly reduce the number of bacteria in the air. This study can be found at http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/40442/PDF.
- One of the easiest and least expensive methods for inspiring office employees to be healthy is to encourage hand washing and basic personal sanitation such as covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing. This can be done through vivid and eye-catching signs in areas such as bathrooms and break rooms.
Office managers and employees alike can inspire healthy living in any office setting. While it may be impossible to use each of these tips, using even one can help. With a healthy office setting, individuals will find it easier to exercise and work productively while avoiding illness.
Trishia Laucklier is a fitness and nutrition enthusiast who is helping men and women alike gain confidence and pride with Austin Skinny Limits.