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Old 27th May 2011, 04:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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10 ways to make your job healthier

10 ways to make your job healthier



Your job can have an impact on your physical health ? a fact that is often disregarded, especially in this busy day and age.

Fri, May 27, 2011
AsiaOne


How can you make your workplace healthier? AsiaOne explores ten ideas put forward by US News.

1. Avoid "desk dining"



Whenever you are swamped with work, keep in mind that pulling yourself away from your desk for just one hour can do wonders for your health.

Multi-tasking - dealing with e-mails or phone calls while having a bite - tends to lead to overeating and poor nutritional choices as you are not focusing on your food, according to Newsweek (read more).

Desk dining is also unhygienic, since half of all people do not wash their desks before they eat there, according to dietitian Elisa Zied in a CBS interview (read more).

Moreover, the office can be a breeding ground for germs, and eating there means exposing your food to them, University of Arizona microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba tells the London Evening Standard.

"When someone is infected with a cold or flu bug, the surfaces they touch during the day become germ transfer points," he said, noting that an office can become an 'incubator' because some viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours.

If you absolutely have to eat at your desk, do ensure that your food does not touch the table's surface, advises Zied.

Dr Gerba also recommends disinfecting your keyboard regularly to prevent bacteria from getting transferred from your hands, which touch your dirty keyboard, to your mouth.


2. Beautify your area with plants



Plants can improve the air quality in your office as they serve as natural humidifiers and air cleaners, reported The Korean Herald (read more).

They can also create a refuge from everyday stresses as they brighten up your workplace and are aesthetically pleasing.

According to a Washington State University study, students who worked in an environment surrounded by plants had a 12 per cent quicker reaction to tasks, and their systolic blood pressure fell, reports US News. They also felt more attentive.

When choosing the plants for your office, one tip to note would be that the greener the plant is and the more leaves and rootlets it has, the more capable it is of purifying the air.

These kinds of plants also tend to be more fuss-free as they are mostly resistant to diseases and damages by insects, writes The Korean Herald.


3. Improve your posture



Bad posture can cause numerous problems, including back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders and a potbelly, says the Better Health Channel.

The ideal posture, however, is not to sit up straight, but to lean your chair back to a 135 degree angle, according to US News.

In addition, to help maintain your good posture, it is advisable to always sit on chairs with lower back support, and to be cautious of sitting too long in one position, says Chim Li Yen in an article by The New Straits Times (read more).


4. Reduce your work stress



While this may not be the easiest thing to do, it could literally save your life.

Chronic job stress has links to heart disease, high blood pressure, and may increase the risk of depression, reported Reuters (read more).

A Danish study mentioned in US News revealed that those with high stress levels were between 25 to 50 per cent more likely to have ischaemic heart disease.

Also, Reuters noted that in a study comprising of 24,000 working Canadian adults, nearly 5 per cent had suffered from major depression in the past year. Those facing heavy work stress were particularly susceptible.

One simple thing you can do to help you alleviate your work stress could be to drink up – water, that is, not alcohol.

Doing so would make it easier for your grey matter synapses to transmit information, allowing you to work more efficiently, says The Star. They recommend drinking around 1.5 litres of water a day.

Another tip could be to walk it off, as walking is a stress-busting activity (read more).


5. Avoid working overtime



You may not be exaggerating when you say that your job is killing you.

According to a study reported in CNN Health, people who work more than 10 hours a day are about 60 per cent more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack compared to those who clocked in just seven hours.

"If you work long hours, the fact is that you may be exposed to higher stress levels and you do not have enough time to take care of your health," Dr Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London, tells CNN Health.

"Balance between work and leisure time is important," she notes.

While this may not be the feasible all the time, do consider your health the next time you plan to work past the 6 o'clock mark.


6. Exercise during lunch



Experts say that doing so is one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into a hectic schedule, according to WedMD.

In a recent survey by CareerBuilder, it showed that 44 per cent of workers have gained weight while at their current jobs, writes US News.

This could be because we are bound to our desk all day and are not exposed to enough physical activity, suggests the publication.

The lack of exercise also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 per cent, says The Brunei Times (read more).

While it may seem impossible to exercise, eat, shower and get back to work all in that one hour, Mari Croze, a personal trainer at the Central Michigan State University Fitness Center tells WedMD that she believes that it can be done.

"It is going to take a little bit of planning and some coordination," she admits. "But it's often easier than you think."

For example, on the days you plan to sweat a little, ensure you wear work clothes that are easy to change out of, and bring your own lunch.

Something else to note would be that the most beneficial way to have a quick workout would be to focus on its intensitiy, says WedMD.

"Research has shown that even just 15 minutes of exercise can get you nearly the same effects as 60 minutes of working out, if you increase the intensity," says Tyne, a former conditioning coach for the San Diego Chargers.

Opt for 20-30 minutes on your favourite cardio machine, take a power walk or jog, for example.


7. Don't de-stress with TV after work



A one-hour increase in TV watching increases the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a factor that possibly increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, by 26 per cent, according to a study mentioned in US News.

More frightening is that this is regardless of the amount of exercise these people performed.

However, according another study, watching TV is only detrimental only because we tend to sit down while doing it.

"The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time," lead author David Dunstan tells Real Jock.

Instead of kicking back by watching TV, we can take a brisk walk - a good stress-busting activity. The Nurses' Health Study reported in Hive Health Media recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of that a day.

However, if giving up the tele is too unimaginable, Real Jock provides a creative alternative: watching TV while on the treadmill.


8. Keep your desk clean



Cluttered desks are among the workplace factors that are making employees ill, reports US News.

According to Life & Beauty Weekly, the anxiety that builds up when you are unable to find what you need on your desk will have impacts on your health.

Moreover, your clutter also allows germs to fester, says The New York Times.

And while you may be busy, you have no excuses - according to US News, of some 2,000 workers surveyed, 25 per cent admitted that it was possible to fix the mess at their desks.

Perhaps a good tactic would be to start small though, says Life & Beauty Weekly.

Set aside 15 to 30 minutes to work on one corner of your desk each time. After your desk is cleared, set a rule not to let paper sit around for over a few days – either deal with it or bin it.


9. Try to arrange for a flexible work schedule



Self-scheduling of work hours may help improve blood pressure, sleep and mental health of those concerned, according to the Cochrane Systematic Review.

And best of all, employees are not the only beneficiaries.

Companies gain as these schedules are linked to improvements in employees' alertness, according to Emax Health.

Flexible working hours tends to help workers chalk up the appropriate amount of sleep, meaning that they feel less tired and are more productive.

Moreover, these forms of schedules allows employees' to allocate time to focus on one's health - thus reducing overall healthcare costs of the business, says Emax Health.

In addition, as happy employees would likely put more of themselves into their work, it could potentially translate into greater profitability.

Such working hours are increasingly more popular in parts of the UK.

Perhaps one day, it could come to our sunny shores to benefit both employers and employees alike.


10. Try to maintain good ties with your boss



Your relationship with your superior may be the most important one you have at your job, says Mayo Clinic.

A possible reason for this could be that when you put forth your requests - be it for a more manageable workload, more flexible schedule or less overtime - you stand a better chance of getting your way, says US News.

It could also mean more job satisfaction and less stress for you, argues Mayo Clinic.

Being on good terms with your boss can manifest itself in your physical health - there's evidence that workers who feel they have good bosses have a lower risk of heart disease, reports US News.

Source: http://health.asiaone.com/Health/Wel...20-279815.html

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