Dr Kenny Livingstone
Dr Kenny Livingstone, CMO and founder of healthcare on demand company, Zoomdoc, shares his tips on how to prioritise health and fitness while working.
In 2015, Public Health England advised office workers to stand up for at least two hours a day. This was a recommendation which arose after research suggested that a sedentary lifestyle is having a negative effect on the health of office workers across the nation.
The campaign was a success and over the last few years we have seen a strong rise in the approach of companies and employees in engaging with wellness initiatives designed to combat the sedentary lifestyle – from standing desks to exercise classes, corporate culture has embraced the need for a healthy workforce.
As a doctor, I often see patients who seek advice for the best ways to take care of their health at work. This doesn’t surprise me – there are so many different approaches and guidelines out there that most people don’t realise how simple it can truly be! Despite the adoption of wellness initiatives by companies across the UK, not everyone is lucky enough to work in an office which makes the appropriate provisions for its employees.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t make active choices at work which will benefit your health in the long run. Taking care of your health at work doesn’t have to be a challenge, but rather a series of small lifestyle choices.
We have all become aware that sitting for long periods is unhealthy, and that snacking on chocolate all day can lead to a growing waistline and fatigue, but there are some truly practical ways in which you can make your health one of your top priorities at work.
Learn some desk-based stretches
It sounds ludicrously simple, but very few of us bother to stretch and shift our bodies during the day. We all know that we should get up and walk around as often as possible during the workday but incorporating different forms of stretching can actually count towards your weekly workout. The NHS has provided a handy illustrated guide with some ideas, or if some of these feel a little too awkward at work, a simple search for desk exercises should find you some that you are happy with.
Eat sensible snacks throughout the day
A lot of my patients mistake the idea of snacking as an inherently bad thing. While it is true that we are all guilty of snack more than neccesary at work, eating small nutritious snacks throughout the day is ultimately better for your metabolism and therefore your body. Just make sure that you stick to the snacks that keep you satiated and provide a slow release of energy – raw, unsalted nuts are a good start!
Take breaks from typing
Typing is an intensely repetitive motion, which you are likely to do for a prolonged period of time, every day you are at the office. This can have a strain on your hands, and conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome are starting to be more common in patients in Britain. Take breaks from typing in order to give your hands a rest - perhaps even consider setting an alarm to ensure that you regularly get your hands away from the keyboard!
Take care of your mental health
Your mental health can affect your physical health before you even realise it. Being overexposed to stress is incredibly dangerous and can lead to physical aches and pains – headaches, back pain and stomach aches being just some of the symptoms commonly associated with stress. Try and take the time to focus on your emotional wellbeing by having time away from work and taking breaks during the workday. Always seek support if you are feeling overwhelmed.
It can be tempting to fuel your work day with sugary coffee or the comforts of tea. Whilst this is perfectly fine in moderation, consuming too much caffeine can lead to feelings of fatigue and interrupted sleeping patterns. Make sure to have at least eight or nine glasses of water throughout the day. Carry a big water bottle into work and make sure to refill it throughout the day, and you’ll quickly notice the effects of being hydrated!
Don’t come into work sick
ZoomDoc research showed that 87% of British employees come into work sick at least once a year. It can be tempting to underestimate how ill you feel, and to feel reluctant about getting behind on your work for the week. But taking the time to rest will help your body recover quicker, and boost your immune system. Your health is a priority and going into the office is likely to not only make you worse, but may also infect your colleagues. If you do need to see a GP on a last minute, non-emergency basis, consider contacting on demand healthcare services which can support you remotely or with home visits.
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