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13 Tips for staying healthy at work

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Staying healthy at work is not an easy task. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “working yourself to death?” It’s not just a saying. A 2020 study revealed that 1.6 million working individuals had a work-related illness while 38.8 million working days had been lost to workplace injuries and illnesses.

Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, fatigue, obesity, depression, and heart disease. You may have a hard time neglecting your work responsibilities to go exercise. Or you find yourself feeling sluggish at the end of the day but too busy to take care of yourself.

For most of us, work is the place we spend the majority of our days. With that in mind, it’s important to do what you can to protect your health and well-being when you’re on the job. Here are 13 tips and some medical advice for staying healthy at work:

1. Ensure you are drinking water throughout the day

It’s even more important to drink water at work than when you’re working out. This is because working up a sweat isn’t the only thing working up a thirst – your brain is working hard too. The next time you feel sluggish at work, don’t reach for a caffeinated beverage – go for water instead.

You should be drinking about 2.7 – 3.7 litres of water throughout your working day to stay hydrated and avoid painful headaches caused by dehydration. Drinking water regularly will also help combat fatigue and maintain a healthy immune system, so you’re less likely to fall ill during working hours. Also, staying hydrated helps keep your mind alert, so your cognitive skills remain sharp, especially during long working days.

2. Increase regular physical activity and stay in good shape

Exercise is one of the most important components for people to get through their working days with less stress and health problems. Some jobs require more physical activity than others, but even sitting (sitting for 8+ hours a day) at a desk job can cause some harm to your body. Add in extra time working on projects, attending meetings or working overtime, and days become very long indeed.

To stay healthy at work means getting enough exercise – either before or after working hours, depending on your preference. Achieving physical health does not have to be complicated. Taking short walks throughout the day is an easy way to get the extra movement you require without taking significant time away from work.

3. Stretch out your muscles

Stretching is another excellent way to stay healthy at work. Legs may be particularly stiff after working in the same position for hours on end, so it’s important to stretch them out when working to reduce pain and avoid injuries.

4. Choose a healthy lunch over junk food

Working people are often busy during the day – sometimes too busy to even stop for lunch. Try to pack and eat foods that provide a lasting energy level throughout working hours – nuts, whole-grain bread or vegetables with hummus are great for this. To avoid hunger pains that tempt you to grab junk food from vending machines, ensure you’re consuming enough ‘healthy’ calories. For instance, include carrots, celery or nut mixes; cheese cubes and whole-grain crackers; and yoghurt cups with berries in your meal.

5. Keep your working equipment clean

Keep working surfaces clean to prevent bacteria and germs from getting out of control during working hours. Wipe down desks, tabletops and the space underneath workstations. Don’t put working surfaces in awkward places where they can’t be easily accessed or seen.

6. Maintain a work-life balance

Working long hours can be stressful and take a toll on your body, so try working as much as you can within standard working hours to keep stress levels down. Working more than 55 hours a week is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Work-related stress, fatigue and worry are also linked to various health problems. If you have trouble staying healthy at work, consider working fewer hours. This will help reduce strain on your body caused by long hours spent sitting down.

7. Control your daily caffeine intake

Though working without that morning cup of coffee may seem next to impossible, you’re better off limiting your caffeine intake if you want to stay healthy at work. Caffeine raises stress hormones and blood pressure levels while inhibiting the production of melatonin needed for sleeping patterns.

8. Maintain a good posture

If you’re working in an uncomfortable position, it’s easy to become stressed out and anxious, leading to even worse working conditions. Make sure your working environment is ergonomic by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Avoid working at screens that are too high or too low. If you have to stand while working, make sure your working screen is at eye level, so you don’t crane your neck and back out of position for extended periods.
  • Avoid working with your arms bent at an uncomfortable angle for prolonged periods. Make sure your work desk is big enough to accommodate your arms comfortably – not just your wrists.
  • Keep ankles parallel to the ground while you’re seated if possible. This helps keep your legs and hips in their proper positions so that your muscles can recover throughout workdays.
  • Make sure the back of your chair is supported by something sturdy, so you don’t slump forward when you sit down and get back pain.

9. Reward yourself with a short break and some fresh air

Working too long without the occasional break is the quickest way to burn out during working hours, especially if you’re under stress or in an uncomfortable position. Make sure you have short breaks every hour – even just 5 minutes will help reduce stress immensely. Try taking longer breaks whenever your schedule allows. 10-15 minutes are ideal for resting your mind and body – try walking around outside during these breaks or grabbing a drink with a colleague.

10. Keep your working environment hygienic

Keeping yourself clean is one of the most important factors in achieving a healthier lifestyle. Without proper hygiene, it becomes very easy to catch an infection or fall ill, leading to further complications. Hence, it’s important to ensure that you always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing food to prevent bacteria from spreading.

Hygiene is often overlooked at workplaces. But, working in unhygienic conditions can lead to serious health-related issues like skin infections, respiratory problems, headaches and allergies. Cleanliness should be your top priority while looking to stay healthy. You must ensure that your workplace has proper ventilation, and desks should be well-lit to ensure better concentration. It would also be advisable to carry kits containing items like face masks, hand sanitiser, tissues, etc.

11. Manage your mental health

Stress is one of the biggest working day saboteurs. When days are filled with stress, it can promote body inflammation and weight gain, among many other things.

Many people turn to meditation to promote mental health, physical relaxation and help them enjoy their days more. People who meditate before work feel calmer. How does this happen? Many experts believe it’s because meditation slows down our brain function, which helps us focus on what we’re doing without worrying about everything else at the same time, leaving us feeling less stressed at work.

12. Control your computer screen time

Being at a computer all day can be very strenuous to the eyes, and working without rest or breaks can induce headaches and soreness, so remember to take regular eye breaks. This means looking away from the screen for about 20 seconds every 15 minutes and briefly closing your eyes. It’s also advised that you adjust your work environment depending on the lighting conditions, as working under bright lights is not recommended due to the strain it places on your eyes.

13. Make sure you sleep

Many of us in high-stress jobs can find it hard to get enough sleep, but working while tired is not the answer. Sleep deprivation impairs memory, decision-making and increases anxiety levels. In addition to performing better with less sleep, you will also avoid health problems such as headaches and weight gain that come from lack of sleep. Before going to bed each night, make sure you have completed everything needed for the next working day, so you go into work feeling relaxed and fresh-faced rather than panicked and overwhelmed.

Effects of health on medical insurance costs at work

Your small business needs health insurance to achieve productivity in the workplace, ultimately resulting in profit generation. While healthcare is essential for both companies and employees, healthcare costs can be reduced by staying healthy. A healthier workforce has fewer absences, less illness and contributes to the overall productivity of an organisation.

Healthy employees should translate into lower healthcare costs for employers. An individual’s healthcare costs can be predicted by identifying risk factors such as age, weight, stress levels, and activity level at work. This is predictive because unhealthy habits can lead to high insurance rates even if it does not directly affect the rate quote at the time of application. For instance, a smoker may pay more for private medical insurance than a non-smoker would.

Quick advice for an employer: better health leads to lower health care costs

A major reason why companies hire full-time employees is due to greater productivity, and healthcare benefits are a major factor that employers offer to attract the best employees. Employers can offer healthcare plans to protect their employees from costly healthcare bills. Having medical coverage is the best way for employees to keep healthcare costs manageable. Employers may cut insurance premiums by taking the above steps to reduce costs, saving both time and money.

FAQ

Keeping yourself healthy is important for your overall well-being. Otherwise, you may not perform as well at work, which could result in more time off or even losing your job.

Yes. Healthy employees are more productive, take sick days less often, and have fewer accidents at work. They also feel much better about themselves when they're in good health.

The two major factors are workload and an unhappy environment. Having a lot of responsibility and long hours at work can lead to stress, affecting your health. Healthy employees lead to a healthy business by maintaining high levels of productivity and morale while leading to safe environments for themselves, coworkers, and customers.

Healthy employees who maintain a healthy lifestyle cost less in insurance premiums. This is because they require doctor's visits and medical professionals less often.

Companies with healthy employees are more productive than their less health-conscious counterparts. Employees have less absenteeism and better productivity, which ultimately benefits the company as a whole.

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