Physical Wellbeing in the Workplace

October 28, 2019

Previously we’ve published thought-pieces regarding the importance of mental health awareness and promoting positive wellbeing.

At HAD we value both the importance of mental and physical wellbeing in the workplace, as it takes a balance of both to truly live a healthy life.

This not only improves the overall happiness of your staff, but in-turn allows for better productivity and in the long-run better employee retention.

Many people may be unaware of the possible side-effects and dangers of modern workplace habits and how to tackle them.

Let’s take a walk

We are not sedentary beings. Before sofas, desks, chairs and tables came into existence, humans were always active, ready to hunt, gather, always on the move.

Now the closest thing we do to hunting is when we catch best deal online for a purchase and wait until it comes through the post.

Could our current state of living be affecting us? Some of us may already know it but how is it actually affecting the body? Times have changed and will constantly change.

We know that, especially with technology improving year after year, but what universal changes have been made to improve our wellbeing while these changes are being made?

How many hours do we sit for at work?

You get ready for work, begin your commute, sat in a car, train or bus.

Begin work and sit on your desk until break. Sit once again, to have lunch for an hour.

Return to our desks for the last couple of hours and then sit again during our commute home.

That’s A LOT of sitting down in one day. Now let’s look at the numbers:

  • Journey to work: 20-40 minutes approx.
  • 9am-5pm – 8 hours (including break)
  • Journey home: 20 – 40 minutes approx.

That’s 9 hours 20 minutes per day, which equals 46 hours per week or 184 hours a month.

That’s 2,208 hours a year sitting down and that’s simply the working hours!

Physical Wellbeing in the Workplace

How can this affect us?

Insufficient physical inactivity can reduce lifespan from 3-5 years and is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the UK.

This in turn burdens society with an increase of health care costs in the long run.

Annually it is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 Billion, including £0.9 billion alone to the NHS!

However, physical activity does not exclusively mean exercise.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) “Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure”.

This means walking, cycling, or doing sports at any level.

Here at HAD, we take time to ensure that there are facilities that promote healthy living and physical wellbeing in the workplace.

For example, staff are invited to play football on Tuesdays after work along with many other wellness activities taking place throughout the year.

Additionally a weekly fruit basket is provided to help promote a healthy diet for employees.

Our Lymphatic system is the human body’s own recycling drainage system.

It is constantly transporting infection-fighting white blood cells in the body and enables antibodies to fight off foreign substances and stop infections from spreading disease.

But, in order for it to work it needs to be pumped.

The lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like the heart so it needs your help – you have to MOVE for it work.

Research from Harvard University suggests that walking eases joint pain and reduces arthritis related problems if walking 5-6 miles a week.

By lubricating the joints and making your muscles stronger to support them, this will especially help the joints & hips.

As little as 40 minutes a day of brisk walking can improve blood pressure.

You could break this up throughout the day or even do 10 minutes upon rising before work if possible and 10 minutes after work.  

The human body has more than 600 muscles, but are we using them? The body functions best when being active.

An inactive body could lead to loss of bone density, stiffening of joints, weakening of muscles, and weakening of the heart and lungs.

What can we do about it?

There are small ways that we can incorporate exercise and healthy living into our work-life to improve our physical wellbeing in the workplace.

Exercise does not have to be a separate activity that you dedicate time to.

In fact, the more you integrate it into your daily life the easier it will be to adopt these healthier habits.

For example, walking to work and back if it is within walking distance, or perhaps opt for cycling.

Taking regular short breaks from your desk to walk not only is healthy but helps you retain concentration while at work.

Sometimes a moment away is all you need to clear the mental block! Encouraging your co-workers to engage in after-work activities is another brilliant way to improve physical wellbeing in the workplace.

Ensuring correct posture is kept is also vital for keeping you healthy and feeling good.

Be sure your work-station is set up correctly and that your chair is comfortable enough so that you aren’t hunching over or causing any strain on your eyes, neck, arms or back.

Last but not least, be sure to stay hydrated and reduce your caffeine intake throughout the day, along with adopting general healthy dietary habits.

Written by Omar Chowdhury

Security and Admin Officer

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