There should be no reason work would make you an unhealthier person. After all, few people view the physical effects of work as tantamount to smoking a carton of cigarettes a day or having daily McDonald’s meals. But in Singapore a surprising number of workers seem to believe that they need to sacrifice their health for their jobs.
Lack of sleep is a huge contributing factor to poor health, but many workers here are resigned to the fact that there’s nothing they can do about it, especially if they work long hours. And the number of sedentary office workers who don’t get any exercise at all, whether due to a genuine lack of time or simply lack of motivation, is disturbing.
A healthy worker is also a better worker. Whether you’re a cubicle serf or an employer, here are a couple of things you can do to make the working experience healthier and more productive.
Get active during lunch hour
Sitting down for 9 or 10 hours straight is terrible for your body. In fact, sitting down for more than 6 hours a day apparently increases your risk of heart disease by up to 64% and places you at greater risk of cancer and diabetes. Obviously, the best way to combat this is to make sure you move regularly throughout the day. And no matter how much work you have, chances are you still get to enjoy that one golden hour—lunchtime.
If you’re the sort of person who has no time for exercise at all, put that lunch hour to good use. Go for a 30 minute jog and then take a shower at the office, go for a yoga class or pop by the gym. I used to do yoga during lunch and it seriously made me a lot more alert and more positive throughout the day.
Exercise during your commute
No matter how little free time you have in a day, the one to two hours you spend commuting to work are mandatory. No, the best use of that time isn’t to catch up on Korean dramas or reply to your Whatsapp messages. On the other hand, if you can incorporate some physical exercise into this daily routine, you’ll show up at work feeling like you’ve already achieved something, and this will work wonders for your performance.
Instead of taking the bus two stops to the MRT station, take a 15-20 minute walk instead. Or get a skate scooter to cut your commuting time even more. Given the “regularity” of Singapore bus services, you might find that you arrive even earlier than if you had waited for the bus. If you live a few kilometres from the nearest MRT station, consider cycling instead.
Choose healthier options at lunch
Since you have to have lunch at work 5 days a week, scouting out a few healthy lunch options can really pay off. Now, if you have lunch at hawker centres every day, we’re sorry to say this but what you’re eating is probably a lot less healthy than you think it is. Even if you ask for less oil or salt, the sad fact is that you’ll still be ingesting a lot of crap like MSG.
You might not want to spend $10 on an expensive salad, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Hawker centre salad stalls are popping up everywhere and are now a common fixture at Amoy Food Centre and Golden Shoe.
Walk around the office
We all know those people who never seem to have any work to do and are always spotted wandering around the office, looking for someone to gossip with. Well, guess what, despite the bad vibes they might be spreading around, they’re actually doing something good for their bodies, because all that walking around is better for them than sitting at their desks all day.
We’re not suggesting you start digging up dirt on your colleagues and spreading it around in the name of merriment. But taking a few blocks of time-out in the middle of the day can help your body to recover from the stress of being forced to sit for long hours.
If you have the luxury of your own office, keep a yoga mat under your desk and then do a few poses at intervals throughout the day. A former colleague of mine used to do jumping jacks in her room. Take a walk to the pantry every hour to fill up your water bottle. Or sneak up to the rooftop garden and do some taichi. Trust us, it not only stops you from dying an early death but also makes the work day pass by much faster and more pleasantly.
Do you have any tips for how to stay healthy at work? Tell us in the comments!