Promoting Daily Health in Your Workday
March 15, 2007 7:52pm CST
Our surroundings have a direct link to our lives. Since we spend 40 or more hours at our jobs weekly, it is essential to your health and longevity that your place of work is as conducive to wellness as possible. These are just a few ways you can integrate health into your workplace. Longevity Lifework It is very important for your health that you enjoy your work and that it has meaning for you. With that in mind, it is also important to consider the health risk factors that may be included in your job description. People in certain professions have a tendency to live longer than average. In studies carried out by the life insurance industry, it was found that symphony conductors and high-level company executives have a lower-than-average rate of mortality. Chinese surveys have found that artists, doctors, herb gatherers, and professors generally enjoy a lengthened life span. Contrarily, some industries cut your life short, especially those in which stress and work-related injuries are everyday occurrences, including agriculture, construction, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining, transportation, retail sales, and wholesale sales. Fresh Air for Office Care Energy-efficient standards of today require that modern office buildings be kept tightly sealed, in order to avoid temperature variations. This is one of the major contributions to the condition called "sick building syndrome," an ambiguous illness that affects the occupants of an unhealthy edifice. Carpeting, furniture, cleaning products, dry cleaning, insecticides, printers, and other products can give off unhealthy fumes, which trigger responses from the immune system that over time dull its effectiveness, leading to premature aging. Circulate fresh air through your office by opening the windows early in the morning and late in the evening. These are the times of day that outdoor air is cleanest. Plants to the Rescue The synthetic materials found in buildings, furnishings, and electronic devices emit volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) into our work environment. Some examples of these toxic gases include formaldehyde from plastic bags, benzene from wall coverings, and xylene from computer screens. Indoor air pollutants aggravate allergies and fatigue; in some extreme cases, they can even lead to cancer and birth defects. This is where Mother Nature's air purifiers come in: plants produce oxygen and eliminate VOCs at the same time. The most effective plants include indoor palms, English ivy, ficuses, peace lilies, and chrysanthemums. Bring the fresh air indoors by filling your workplace with plants aplenty! Office Pick-Me-Ups The key to staying alert and awake on the job is to keep your chi moving. So before you reach for that third cup of coffee-which will initially give you a boost, but depletes your energy in the long run-try some of these: 1. Take frequent breaks from sitting. Instead of using the phone to get what you need, use your legs! Find ways to keep moving all day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a few blocks away from where you're going. 2. Take a field trip for lunch. If it's a nice day outside, have a picnic in a park or just take a walk around the block. The fresh air and the break from routine will be an invigorating addition to your workday. 3. Make sure you are sitting up straight. Slouching not only makes you look older than you are, it also leads to a huge drop in energy by decreasing your oxygen intake. When you compress the diaphragm and ribs, full respiration cannot take place and the blood flow is slowed to your brain and extremities. Additionally, poor posture also affects your mood and contributes to chronic back and neck pains. The Chinese remedy for poor posture is to pull your chin inward and pretend there is a string pulling straight upward from the top of your head. I hope you can integrate some of these strategies into your place of work! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me. May you live long, live strong, and live happy!