How to make office life healthier (and it’s not just about food!)

With the new year a few weeks old, many people will have been taking steps to get healthier. No doubt lots of people will have responded to their Christmas excess by going on diets, joining gyms and getting involved with initiatives like Dry January.

However, a few weeks in all that early effort may have started to drop off. Too much hard work and too little fun will have blunted that new year determination. Gyms that were packed in new year will be sparse by March, and the odd cheat with a cake or glass of wine will give way to the big night out soon enough. This may also be evident in the office too, with the reappearance of chocolate cakes and doughnuts.

For those hoping to prompt the office to be healthier, this may seem a negative thing, but is trying to encourage office staff to be healthier just about what people eat? The answer to that is an emphatic no. There are many other things that can be done to make an office healthy – and perhaps take the stress out of the business of healthier eating.

For example, staff should be encouraged to reduce the time they spend sitting at their desks. A sedentary lifestyle is no use for getting or staying fit, so the working day should be organised so that people are able to take short breaks on their feet, not simply sitting down elsewhere.
Indeed, a really good way to do this could be to make standing desks available. This may not only be appreciated by someone who has a back issue, but also help people use more energy by staying upright.

It is also a good idea to encourage better posture among those who do sit by providing guidance and refreshers on the topic. Poor posture can lead to back muscle injuries – not least among those trying to get fit as running on a cold winter night after stiffening up in a chair can have unpleasant results. In the longer run, it can cause chronic back pain.

The use of plants is another way to make things healthier that is easily overlooked. These can help cleanse the air of toxins and create a better feeling of wellbeing.

While not every office has the resources to incorporate a gym and not every company can offer its staff membership of one as part of their pay and rewards package, it is always possible to install one or two items that may be useful in helping staff limber up a bit now and again. That might be some bars for pull-ups, or even an exercise bike they can ride during a moment of downtime. Of course, this should not be regarded as a substitute for encouraging healthier eating, but instead complement it. Indeed, if people can be more mobile and active in the office, breathe cleaner air, avoid injuries and still eat more healthily than last year, the combination may be ideal to help ensure that those bold declarations in the new year get to be fulfilled after all.

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