Tips for healthy employees

For every new birthday cake your HR endeavors to get, it’s another year of possible increase in health related expenses for the organization, and early retirement for you: nothing to do with cake, but the age.  See with every new year, the risk of getting a chronic disease increases, including depression. These conditions will later play a crucial role in staff absenteeism and insurance costs. By all means acknowledge staff and colleagues and celebrate with them, but I would advise that you invest in their health, especially prevention.

Look at it this way. On average, full-time workers spend more than 8 hours per day at work, one-third to one-half of which is spent sitting down. Within this time, workers will have atleast one meal. Sometimes they will have none as this is dictated by deadlines.  Now studies have shown that occupational physical activity is a determinant of daily energy expenditure, and non-sedentary occupational physical activity may have a protective effect on the health of workers. Just going up and down the stairs has been shown to improve your heart health while, fidgeting and changing your sitting position has been shown to prevent blood pooling in the legs. Further, skipping meals predisposes one to insulin resistance.

The workplace has the potential to substantially improve the health of staff by cultivating a culture that promotes healthy lifestyles. Have regular check-ups, educate your staff and set norms that promote healthy living, have health ambassadors and acknowledge them the same way you do the employee of the month.

A diet poor in vegetables and fruits, high in fat and salt and lack of physical activity are the fuel for most lifestyle diseases including cancer. I will put it as a friend did “cancer is now what HIV was in the 90s”. True to this, the prevalence of cancer is fast rising and we lack the resources for early diagnosis and treatment. What’s more, more people living with HIV are now suffering from these lifestyle conditions because of longer exposure to Non-Communicable Diseases risk factors. But we can prevent them and we start where we are.

Make exercise buddies at work; you will be surprised how many other people are interested. Plus it would save you an hour of just sitting in traffic, and give you an opportunity to know your colleague off work.



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