We spend so much time at the office these days that if the environment is stressful on the body, mind and emotions then it will impact on life outside of work and most importantly our health and wellbeing.
A few weeks ago we took a look at sitting and standing all day. This week I wanted to delve into some other facets that make up a healthy work environment.
The cost to the workplace
If a workplace has no wellness programs in place then the likelihood of things like muscle aches and pains, stress, poor diet and nutrition as well as team communication becoming a problem will be much greater.
Effective workplace health and wellbeing programs can:
Increase productivity at work by 29%.
Improve overall worker health by 24%.
Reduce absence due to sickness.
Result in healthier and safer workers.
Create a positive work environment and workplace culture.
Sitting or standing?
At the moment there is a real buzz around how bad sitting all day is for us. While this is true it is also true of standing all day.
Sitting has been linked to all kinds of illness and injury including:
The benefits of sitting include:
less pressure through the hips, knee and ankles.
the ability to work for longer without breaks
less likelihood of developing varicose veins compared to standing
So standing all day is the solution then?? I hear you ask. Well not necessarily. Standing all day can cause these issues:
Increased foot, ankle, knee and hip pain. Increase risk of varicose veins in the lower leg.
Some links to increased heart disease (though this is also linked to sitting and inactivity).
Lower back pain
Heel pain, bone spurs and plantar fasciitis.
Bunions or corns. Though bunions aren't caused by standing, standing all day on a bunion will certainly make it worse.
The benfits of standing all day include:
improved cardiovascular health
more alertness and less tiredness
reduced neck and shoulder pain
Basically if you do anything all day whether it be sitting, standing, lying down, standing on one leg, balancing on your head or anything else you can think of, it will cause you pain. The research and more importantly common sense says to move often. Get away from the desk. Go for a walk around the office. Get outside at lunch. Go to the gym or go for a walk.
I feel that this is the real heart of the issue. If we are inactive for long periods at a time then our body becomes slow and lazy. This also impact our mental state which in turn affects our emotional state. If we can exercise regularly and move often then the likelihood of serious health issues is reduced.
What can you do?
The biggest thing you can do to stop the aches and pains is looking after your posture. Sitting up straight at your desk. Having your monitor/s set up so your eye level is at the top of the monitor. Have the keyboard set up so you elbows can be at 90 degrees and your wrists are in a neutral position, neither extended or flexed too much as this can strain your wrists and elbows.
Take breaks!! If you do a physical activity over and over again without rest at some point the body will break down. At this breaking point you will then begin to feel pain. Once the pain has set in the body is telling you there is a problem. If you keep working on top of this pain then the problem will continue to get worse until you can't actually work.