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Exercise and Working: Making Time for a Healthier Life


GE’s #HealthAhead initiative encourages GE employees to participate in sport, eat healthier and do exercise

Keeping up a healthy lifestyle can be hard when working in front of a computer screen every day. Many people find that although they don’t do any exercise whilst they are at work, they come home every day tired and without the energy to do any. Long office hours can mean not having time to go to the gym or do sport as much as they would like, leaving having a healthy lifestyle on the backburner.

Developing some healthy habits into the daily routine is a good option for those working in desk jobs. These ten healthy tips are small efforts that will make a big difference:

1-      Drink water: Many people don’t drink as much water as they should every day. Although hot beverages and soft drinks contain a lot of water, nothing can replace a bottle or glass of pure water, especially on a hot summer day. According to Mayo Clinic, even mild dehydration can drain energy and provoke tiredness. For men, the daily recommended amount of water is roughly 3 liters (or 13 cups of water) and 2.2 liters (or 9 cups of water) for women.

2-     Eat a good breakfast: Starting the day properly is essential to keep up energy levels and avoid snacking between meals. People who eat breakfast regularly are likely to weigh less than those who don’t. It’s important to eat food that will burn slowly and give energy throughout the morning: foods like bread and cereals are a good start to the day. People who don’t have breakfast are more likely to make unhealthy food choices and will feel tired and less capable of thinking properly.

3-     Keep regular sleep hours: Sleep, as many professionals know, is a privilege. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep needs are individualand shouldn’t be too short or too long, as both are prejudicial. Short sleep durations are linked to increase in body mass index; there is a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation and health conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. Depending on each person, the right amount usually varies between 7 and 9 hours a day.

4-      Take the stairs rather than the lift or elevator, and when answering a phone call, stand up and walk around. Stretching muscles and moving is good for your health. It helps to burn calories without even knowing it. Moving your arms around also helps to burn calories.

5-      Laugh: Laughter is good for your mental health. It’s an easy stress-releasing exercise, and laughing also produces energy. Something as simple as sharing a joke with a co-worker or thinking about something funny will trigger a better atmosphere at work and encourage more laughter and positive thinking.

6-      Desk exercise: If the office space doesn’t have space for treadmills and running off to the gym is not an option, office workers can get the gym to come to them. Simple exercises like raising the roof, lunges, desk press-ups, knee lifts or jumping jacks are a good way to keep moving despite being in the office.

7-      Run Errands: Going to do errands like picking up coffee, photocopying documents yourself or picking up packages are good ideas to keep in shape whilst still working. Instead of calling a colleague on extension or sending an e-mail, get up and see them at their desk. During the working day, remember to take frequent breaks, even if it’s just to go to the bathroom or kitchen and to walk around whenever the opportunity arises.

8-      Walking: Walking to and from places or in the park is good for you. This simple exercise, which can fit into any busy routine, is a good way to do exercise without even realizing it. Leaving earlier to walk instead of taking transport, leaving the car at home to do shopping all contribute to a healthier lifestyle.  

9-      Eat more fruits and vegetables: Forget pre-cooked meals. Fresh fruit and vegetable are important for your diet. Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, according to the CDC. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

10-   Spend time outdoors doing something you love: Whether it’s playing with your children, exercising with a friend or swimming in a pool, being outdoors and in the sunlight boosts health. We need exposure to sunlight as much as exercise and doing something you love outside will boost the effect of any activity.

Companies can also encourage healthy living

Regular exercise can also benefit companies.  Many businesses understand that offering the option of regular exercise keeps employees healthier, lowers the chance of absences and sickness and boosts morale and self-esteem.  The most forward thinking enterprises have started offering a gym service to employees, as well as encouraging walking and doing exercise with other people in the office.

GE’s HealthAhead program helps employees practice healthy lifestyles, which is an important plus at the workplace. The company-wide initiative encourages employees to make healthy choices both at work and at home and provides resources and programming to help employees and their families to be healthy. The results have been inspiring, and show how important being active and involved in sport can be. After just three years of HealthAhead, 200,000 employees have access to free or reduced costs gyms, 12,800,000 healthy meals were served in GE sites in 2011 and 100% of GE sites are tobacco free. Many employees have jumped on the healthy challenge, creating running contests, dance classes and encouraging their families to join them in a healthier lifestyle.