The CDC has released a report stating that over 29 million U.S. adults have diabetes and even more are at risk for development. The statistic is a somber one and is likely the result of our culture’s infatuation with convenience-driven lifestyles, longer work hours, and desk oriented jobs. 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults – have pre-diabetes, where those tested had blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Although the levels were high, but they not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Small business owners and office employees are especially susceptible to habits that can lead to dangerous disease in life.
Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. – Centers for Disease Control
One of the leading factors? A sedentary lifestyle. Why? In most offices, we sit down to work at computers in our work environment. Health and stress reduction considerations should be built into modern business planning. Business owners and workers alike need to start taking responsibility for their futures and work towards creating an environment that encourages and rewards healthy choices. Wondering where to start? There are many resources about improving work environments, but here are a few personally tested favorites.
Healthier Work Stations
Work areas should have ergonomic considerations. Chairs and desks should be evaluated for each user’s comfort. A person who is 6 ft. tall will need a different station set up than an employee who is 5 ft. There are many exciting options such as “standing desks” that are available to help office workers avoid sitting too long each day. Chairs are especially important. They need to have support and be fully adjustable. Another idea is to create community work areas, where casual work can be completed. This offers a physical space to escape to when doing lightweight tasks.
Make Exercise Accessible
Create a dedicated private space for mini workout sessions and allow employees to take fitness breaks. If there is no room for a dedicated gym, talk to a gym close by and see if they offer group discounts. Taking the initiative to “find” a quick workout would be beneficial as well. Stairs, and sidewalks, and parking garages can all offer interesting places to grab a quick fitness break. Create office policy that encourages short fitness breaks during the workday. FYI: Wearable fitness trackers make a great mini bonus for staff (or yourself) to monitor daily activity levels.
Step up the Staff Break Room
Provide healthy snacks in the staff kitchen. Management can occasionally cater healthy lunches to promote community and look for local health experts to come into the office. Encourage these experts to come and speak about nutrition and fitness. Management can also set a positive example and bring healthy lunch items. Create a bulletin board or communication center where employees can share their favorite healthy lunch ideas and recipes. This is great if someone in the office has made the investment in a meal planning program and is willing to share the information with others. Make sure filtered water is cold and ready at all times. Encourage water as the beverage of choice for all parties. Finally, if teamwork is essential, management can start a company specific weight loss contest and offer a fabulous reward.
Creating a workspace that makes healthy choices positive and readily available is something anyone can do on a small scale to make a great impact on big investments: personal health, quality of life for the hired workforce and the business’s brand. Business planning should factor in the well being of the employees as a more holistic approach. These changes can be the key to taking your organization to the next level.