5 Steps to a Healthier Office
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image by Valerie Everett

Whatever your political slant we can all agree that the landscape of employer provided health insurance is changing due to the Affordable Care Act. Workplace wellness programs are a part of the discussion. Many of you may be experiencing workplace wellness in a number of ways but the most common is the HRA – Health Risk Assessment.

The Centers for Disease Control defines a HRA as:

“A systematic approach to collecting information from individuals that identifies risk factors, provides individualized feedback, and links the person with at least one intervention to promote health, sustain function and/or prevent disease.”

It can mean something as simple as a 5 minutes questionnaire to something as detailed as a full physical to check key biometric measures such as fasting glucose or cholesterol.  Based on the data you provide (and any medical tests done) you often receive a report reviewing each area assessed.  It tells you what your results mean to your health status, both current and future, and ways to improve your situation. If you’re lucky you get to meet with a nurse or health coach to work on an individual plan.

Then you’re often left to figure out how to implement these changes on your own.

How do I get my 5 servings of vegetables and fruit a day when all we have at work is a vending machine?

How do I get 30 minutes a day of exercise when I sit at my desk all day?

How do I reduce stress when we’re short staffed and no one can take a vacation?

How am I supposed to lose weight when everyone keeps bringing donuts to the morning staff meeting?

Despite the great promotion of health at HRA time, your office environment may actually be the biggest roadblock to achieving the goals from your individual plan.

Workplace wellness has to start with the workplace environment. There are simple measures any office can take to start making the environment friendlier to your fitness goals. Here are my top 5 tips that can be implemented with little cost but can make a big impact:

  1. Remove the soda machine. You don’t have to ban soda but don’t make it cheaper and easier to get. Offer water, tea and coffee instead.
  2. Replace the morning bagels and donuts with fruit. Yes, they are still carbs but in a proper portion size with plenty of fiber and less temptation to slather on cream cheese.
  3. Try a step challenge instead of a weight loss challenge. Getting moving on a regular basis is a much more doable goal for most people then competing on pounds lost.
  4. Stand up when you make phone calls. The risks of being sedentary keep adding up. Even this slight bit of movement can make a big difference.
  5. Start meetings with a stretch break. It will only take a minute or two and it will allow people to not only move their bodies but also focus their thoughts on the task ahead.

With a few simple changes you will change the overall health of your office. With a better fed and more energetic staff you’ll also see a boost in productivity and improved employee satisfaction.

How healthy is your office? What small changes have you made to your workplace that has yielded big results? What change are you going to initiate TODAY?

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