Monday, June 1, 2009

Are hard times improving employee health?

In the past few years we’ve been witness to layoffs, cutbacks, furloughs and a number of other tough decisions among the long, long list of recession repercussions. But even through all the difficulties, some people are actually using this time to make positive, healthier changes.

New research shows that the recession is causing many workers to adopt healthier lifestyles. A recent survey by the National Business Group on Health of 1,500 workers ages 22 to 69 found a majority said that a healthier lifestyle is more important now than it was to them just one year ago.

One third of survey respondents said they are exercising more and about half say they’re eating healthier. The survey also found that 44% of respondents were eating fast food less often.

Whether you’re just trying to live healthier or wanting to cut back on health care costs, making healthy decisions regarding food and exercise is one of the simplest ways to get started.

Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our day inside office buildings where unhealthy junk food lurks around every corner and the thought of getting a workout in during lunchtime sounds more like a joke than a great idea.

So, lets skip the jokes and instead focus on some real-world tips for staying healthy at work:

  • Get outside. Even if it’s only for five minutes at a time, grab your walking shoes and take a quick stroll around the building. If possible, set aside 15 to 30 minutes for a walk in the sunshine everyday.

  • Pack your lunch. Bringing a brown-bag lunch from home will help you eat healthier and cut costs. If you’re not into the assembly, buy a week’s worth of healthy frozen meals at the grocery store to keep in the office freezer.

  • Snack smart. Offices are full of snacking dangers, from vending machines to the office manager’s candy dish. Curb the urge to seek out these dangerous snacks by keeping a stash of healthy snacks like fruit and nuts at your desk.

  • Say no to Joe. Though certain studies have shown that drinking coffee is healthy, drinking too much can be harmful. If you usually drink more than three cups of coffee a day, try to cut back by alternating each cup with a glass of water.

Do you have any other advice for making healthy choices at work? Leave a comment and share your tips and tricks for workplace wellness.

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