How to stay healthy in the workplace
In celebration of World Health Day on 7 April, we wanted to highlight what individuals in various types of employment can do to remain healthy in their jobs. There are various health concerns that can arise at work, from physical issues with heavy lifting to not being able to keep up a healthy diet in the office. There is always something to be wary of and surely many of us are thinking that there are a few things we would like to improve ourselves. So with this in mind, we hope this guide on how to stay healthy in the workplace will prove to be a useful tool in helping you secure a healthy working future.
Improving our fitness is something that we could all be thinking about, and it’s especially important for those that engage in heavy lifting and physical activity during their working day. Exercise is not an idea many of us are excited by but to help ensure a healthy workplace it’s vitally important.
Finding time to exercise can be awfully tricky when work keeps us busy, occupied, and tired throughout much of the day. But if your job in construction requires you to be physically able and you want your body to stay up to the task, you will need to find the time. If heading to the gym after work isn’t an appealing prospect, why not start your day off right by exercising before you even get to work? By waking up a little earlier and hopping on a treadmill or popping down to the gym, you can not only keep in great shape but also allow yourself to enjoy your evening after a busy day at work.
For those that have noticed their health slipping, perhaps they are sitting behind a desk all day and not getting the exercise they know they need, hiring a personal trainer can be a real help. This is an especially good idea for those who don’t know where to start in their fitness journey and need a little guidance in order to get into shape. Many personal trainers, such as At Home Fitness, will even come to your home, providing great convenience after a busy day, helping you to avoid stressful car and train journeys to the gym, while saving time in the process.
Of course, when it comes to heavy lifting, being strong isn’t everything. If your body is cold and not prepared for strenuous activity, you can easily open yourself up to injury. Therefore, it’s important that you try and improve your body’s mobility.
Breaking Muscle, a top online resource for high-quality information on exercise, fitness, and all things health, understands the importance of mobility when it comes to avoiding workplace injuries. Founder of BreakingMuscle.com, Mindith Rahmat, was able to offer us some excellent advice aimed at individuals who want to avoid such issues:
"Mobility and flexibility are two different things. Mobility is more important to your daily activity and work because it has to do with your ability to move seamlessly through different positions. Flexibility is, to simplify it a little, how far you can bend or stretch. It's great if you have it, but being able to do the splits may not add anything to your mobility in lifting a heavyweight.
“The best thing to do is to check yourself when you first wake up in the morning. How well does your body move in different ways? This is your baseline mobility. Often, injury occurs because you suddenly do something that your body has to adjust to but is not ready for. Being mobile and working on your mobility is, therefore, very important to prepare yourself for life's little challenges and it is a sign of your fitness.”
In terms of exercise advice and what individuals can do to improve their mobility, Mindith says: “The best thing to do is to work on moving regularly and keep things different so you're not just going through the same routine over and over again. Try doing squats with your arms raised over your head. It's better to be dynamic than static, meaning not just bending over and stretching.
“When you are doing manual labour, you need to use your whole body and not just your arms or your back, which can happen if you are not loose and don't feel the mobility. The only way to do that is to make movement a habit and not something that creeps up on you intermittently.
“Check your morning mobility and use that as a guide to your body's limitations. Then, work on increasing that mobility over time. The morning check-up is your best guide to where you truly are with your mobility."
Perfect Balance Clinic is a top team of expert pain relief therapists and rehabilitation professionals, who know a thing or two about avoiding workplace injuries and remaining healthy in the workplace. Offering an extensive range of treatments for those who may be suffering, Perfect Balance Clinic also has wonderful suggestions for avoiding the various injuries that can occur in a physically demanding workplace.
The team at Perfect Balance Clinic were kind enough to offer our readers some of their expert advice. Firstly, they spoke to us about the importance of good posture when heavy lifting is involved and what they can do to help:
“At Perfect Balance Clinic we work with a range of people that suffer from lower back pain alongside other musculoskeletal conditions in the workplace. The key factor, we believe, is prevention. Good posture is required in the workplace when engaged in manual handling and within workstations. Each and every case at Perfect Balance Clinic is treated on an individual, bespoke basis.
“At Perfect Balance, we believe in treating every case individually; a 360 degree approach to understanding people's injuries and stress on the body equates to our model of healthcare, identifying the cause of the injury and giving a specific and tailored solution for each individual case; supporting posture is a necessary requirement when dealing with the potential risks in the workplace.”
Senior osteopath at Perfect Balance Clinic, Stephen Makinde, also identified five key areas to be aware of in order to prevent injury:
As alluded to by Perfect Balance Clinic, physical prowess isn’t enough to ensure a healthy work life. Exercise must be combined with a well-balanced diet for any significant improvements. At work, whether in the office or for those working jobs in the highway sector, it can be very easy (and tempting) to snack on all kind of unhealthy foods – after all, they’re cheap, convenient, and tasty! But if you are serious about looking after your body, this is something you need to avoid.
Many people resort to snacking throughout the day because they haven’t enjoyed a substantial meal first thing in the morning. So instead of just grabbing a slice of toast on your way out of the door, or half-heartedly eating a bowl of sugary cereal, take the time to prepare a breakfast of champions, full of energy and nutrients so you can start the day off right. By opting for a fruit bowl, porridge, eggs, or something more elaborate, enjoying a decent breakfast can provide untold benefits, including decreased odds of obesity, preventing moodiness, and keeping your body sustained longer into the day.
If your place of work doesn’t provide the food options you require to maintain a healthy diet, why not forget about the office canteen and prepare yourself a decent meal in advance? If you’ve cooked a fantastic meal the night before, why not bring any leftovers you have to work? Or spend a little time bit of time before bed putting together something enjoyable that you will feel happy eating the following day. As with most things in life, a little extra effort really goes a long way, so put in the time and make sure your body has the fuel it needs to stay healthy. And for those that aren’t culinary experts, great services such as Hello Fresh deliver pre-portioned, healthy ingredients for delicious recipes right to your door.
Hydration is another key factor for those wanting to improve their health. When working a hectic job, sometimes we can become so busy, so fixated on the myriad important task to accomplish throughout the day, that we can often forget to stay hydrated. But it’s important to remember, even if you don’t feel thirsty, that all workers should get into the habit of drinking water regularly (refraining from cola and other sugary drinks). Bringing a bottle with you to work can certainly help in this regard, serving as both a reminder and removing an excuse to visit the vending machine – your wallet will be healthier too!
Another vital element to consider is one’s mental health, something that is often overlooked in our society and left undiagnosed in the workplace. It’s all very well being in fantastic physical shape and eating all the right foods, but if you’re suffering on the inside this can have dramatic effects on your job performance and, more importantly, your personal happiness. One of the most common issues people face in the workplace is stress, something that is certainly unavoidable at times but a problem that can be alleviated if you know how, or with help from groups such as Priory, who offer stress treatment and counselling for those really in need.
It’s essential to stop stress before it becomes chronic and overwhelming, as it can wreak all kinds of damage if left unchecked and uncared for. So whether you’re feeling the pressure from deadlines or challenging tasks, one first needs to identify just what it is that is making them feel so stressed. By recognising what it is that is causing you stress, you can hopefully avoid instances that are indeed avoidable and learn how to better cope with similar situations in the future.
As mentioned, sometimes stress is just part of high-pressured vocations, and if this isn’t something that you want to give up in order to retain your health, it’s important to learn how to unwind when the day is done. Turning off after work can be tricky, but maintaining a healthy work-life balance will be hugely beneficial. If you can, avoid your phone, email etc. and engage in a hobby after work. Do something that you love to do, cook a family meal, exercise - whatever it may be, just find what it is that will help you recharge and relax after the working day.
One of the leading causes of stress, and something that can easily be corrected is poor time management. If you have a busy work schedule, and you’re constantly overwhelmed with tasks to accomplish, it is important to learn how to organise your time. Without doing so, the jobs ahead can seem rather daunting, heaping on unnecessary stress as you try and juggle all that needs to be done. But, by taking the time to first organise your day, planning out what needs to be accomplished, making note of deadlines etc., you can realise what is achievable and clearly see the lay of the land. Try tackling the smaller tasks first, getting unimportant things out of the way, building up momentum before beginning work on something more substantial. Once you learn to master your own time and become proficient at planning ahead, the stress will become far more manageable.
Stress isn’t the only factor regarding mental health in the workplace, however, and there are a number of issues that often don’t get noticed by ourselves or our colleagues. If you are worried about your own wellbeing or that of others around you, the Mental Health Foundation is an excellent resource for information, offering practical advice on how to get the help you need.