As the cold weather sets in, it’s easy to go through a whole day without seeing the sunlight and to develop unhealthy eating and exercise habits. One study has documented the health improvements of six weeks of continuous activity and healthy eating in a large group. Participants who came in for a follow-up health assessment after one year showed improved blood pressure and sleep quality as well as less stress and fatigue.
Here are seven tips to help employees stay fit and healthy.
Lighten Things Up
The lack of sunlight in winter can trigger anxiety, lethargy and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. This is known as seasonal affective disorder, and 15% of Canadians will experience some form of it this year.
Consider these tips to light up the office and lighten the mood:
- Let as much natural sunlight into the office as possible.
- Employees can organize daily walks around the office with co-workers. For those who want to go it alone, simply taking the stairs can make a big difference.
- If your business is set up for it, dedicate a quiet area for employees to relax or meditate during breaks. If the space is large enough for a group, stretching or yoga helps keep endorphin levels and morale high.
- As a perk, employer-sponsored exercise and wellness programs often qualify for health insurance discounts.
Healthy Eating and Exercise at the Office
It’s so easy to grab something unhealthy to snack on or eat for lunch. Here’s a quick guideline for a healthy diet: 50% vegetables with some fruit, 25% lean protein, such as egg, fish or beans, and 25% starch or carbohydrates, such as quinoa or wholegrain pasta.
- Employers can provide healthy snacks, including fruit and vegetables or nuts for the afternoon doldrums.
- Start a friendly “biggest losers” competition based on group weight loss, or kick-start new year resolutions by encouraging employees to set fitness goals, such as committing to 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- Winter weather tends to dry out the skin and lead to dehydration. Hand out water bottles and make sure there’s fresh filtered water available on every floor to keep employees hydrated, which may also improve their mood.
Employers can encourage employees to share recipes, exercise tips and mood-boosting habits with co-workers to help everyone get through the chilly days and improve office productivity. Getting out of the office for a bowling day or other activities also helps build team cohesion and raise morale. The possibilities are endless, and it can be fun for everyone to pitch their ideas.