Dr. Wood: Invest in healthy behaviors while you work

Packing a healthy lunch or snacks to take to work is one way to incorporate healthy behaviors into your workday.
Packing a healthy lunch or snacks to take to work is one way to incorporate healthy behaviors into your workday. AP file, 2012

Are you trying to get or stay healthy, but feel you don’t have enough hours in the day? You are not alone. Most folks these days have very hectic schedules and find it challenging to fit time in for “healthy stuff.”

If you are employed, you likely spend over half of your waking hours at work. That could work to your advantage. Just think of all the moments during an average work day that you could be engaging in some type of healthful behavior — a daily investment may improve your health immediately and in the long run.

Check out the tips below for some ideas on how to fit health into your workday.

Healthy eating

Pack a healthy lunch and/or snacks that includes whole grains, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and low-fat dairy. Make sure to use a frozen ice block in your lunchbox that keeps a perishable foods below 41 degrees.

To find out more about healthy eating, go to choosemyplate.com.

To find a registered dietitian (an expert in the science of nutrition) in your area go to eatright.org/find-an- expert.

Physical activity

Sitting is the new smoking! Don’t sit for long periods of time. Move frequently throughout the day to improve your health.

Park farther from work and walk a few extra steps to the front door. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Use your breaks and lunch to get some physical activity.

Ask your supervisor if you can have walking meetings when it’s appropriate. Get up periodically and walk around or just stand for a few minutes every hour. Walk over and talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email.

Ask Human Resources about discounts to health club memberships or if you can start an on-site group fitness program during lunch. To find out more about the benefits and guidelines for physical activity, go to https://health.gov/PAGuidelines/.

Get your employer involved

Get involved in your employee wellness committee, or if there isn’t one, talk to Human Resources about starting one. Wellness committees often start with one enthusiastic champion. Why not you?

Encourage your employer to offer healthy foods in the break room if that is a perk at your job. Learn about benefits of your employer’s health plan. Ask Human Resources about discounts to visits with registered dietitians.

Avoid bringing germs to work

Stay home when you are sick. Get regular health screenings and immunizations. Wash your hands effectively, you can learn more at cdc.gov/handwashing/. Talk to your health care provider for specific guidelines for you.

Get your rest

Lack of sleep is associated with several chronic diseases, which you can learn about at cdc.gov/sleep/index.html.

Taking care of our health is a combination of small efforts throughout each day. Health is wealth, so take the time to invest in yourself. It will be well worth your efforts.

Reach Dr. Rachel C. Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties, at 360-867-2501, woodr@co.thurston.wa.us.