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Healthy Additions to your Office

Dr. Kathy Gruver

A group of happy, multicultural employees laughing and giving the thumbs up to the camera.

For those of us that spend hours on end at the office, it’s great to have some resources there that we can use to be healthier. Here are a few suggestions.

Most offices keep a medicine chest in the office. As well as pain reducer and cold medicine, keep some multivitamin and minerals on hand. I also recommend some immune boosters like Wellness Formula or Airborne. If you provide your employees with what is needed to keep them illness free you’ll have healthier and more motivated employees.

Many companies offer a gym membership or have one on the premises. If you can’t go that route at least provide a few hand weights, a yoga ball or exercise bands. These are small additions that will help your staff fit in fitness during their busy day. And since we all have to leave our desks at some point, keep some charts of stretches and easy exercises in the break room or kitchen. When people head for a snack or to the bathroom it’s the perfect time to take a break to stretch and move their body. You can also post the stretch of the week near the copy or fax machine and encourage people to stretch while they’re waiting.

Have scheduled breaks throughout the day when everyone in the office stops and stretches or exercises. If you have every one participating, even for a few minutes a day you’ll have a built in buddy system. If you want to take that concept further, sponsor an office Olympics or biggest loser contest. Get everyone involved and supporting each other. Start a point system for exercise or weight loss. Put a big chart on the wall and give everyone stars for their achievements like we had in grade school.

Back to the kitchen. Have options for things other than soda, cookies, processed foods and artificial sweetener. Stevia is a great option instead of Equal or Splenda. Many people have reactions to those chemical sweeteners and eliminating them from the office might also eliminate issues that people didn’t even connect to the artificial sweetener like headaches, anxiety and a feeling of hyperactivity.

MSG is another problem-causing substance that is commonly found in processed foods and chips. Have whoever does your purchasing avoid buying these products. Again, many people have reactions like headaches, anxiety, nausea, hyperactivity and intestinal issues from MSG. A complete list of its hidden names can be found at http://www.msgmyth.com/hidename.htm

I know I’ve mentioned this previously in my articles, but if you want a totally healthy office, I recommend eliminating soda. Diet or regular soda has no nutritional value, keeps people from drinking other healthy beverages like water and can lead to health problems. High fructose corn syrup which sweetens most mainstream sodas has been linked to obesity and type-2 diabetes. The diet variety contains artificial sweeteners which, as well as the above mentioned problems, also suppresses Leptin, a chemical in the brain that tells us when we’re full. So, we wind up eating more. Not much of a diet plan.

Let the sun shine in. Try to get as much natural light in your office as you can. This can be difficult in a space with many cubicles and moveable walls. If you own the building, Solartubes and skylights might be an option. You can also replace your florescent lights with full spectrum light bulbs. These seem to cause less eye strain and prevent people from getting SAD (seasonal effective disorder) during the winter months.

Bring nature inside. Plants can not only brighten a room but also provide oxygen and clean the air. Here are a few that are especially known for their oxygenation power:

  • Reed palm
  • Dwarf date palm
  • Boston fern
  • English Ivy
  • Peace Lily
  • Australian sword fern
  • Rubber plant
  • Weeping fig

I see many offices with artificial plants; I really recommend getting live plants instead. There are services that will bring plants and flowers into your office and maintain them for you. One of the downsides of artificial plants is they tend to collect dust and other particles which might irritate allergen sensitive people. Turn to real nature if you can.

And speaking of sensitive people, we are seeing more and more folks developing multiple chemical sensitivies. The office is an environment ripe with these compounds. Toner fluid, copy machine chemicals, out-gassing from carpet and assembled furniture, even the smell from markers, whiteout and pens can put someone over the edge of reactions. So much of that is out of our control, but try to make the best choices when looking at office chairs, carpet and paint.

And speaking of chairs, provide your staff with what they need to be healthy at their desks. Listen to their concerns about chair height, computer placement and office setup. And make sure the chairs are good quality and fit the employees. I had a client that had to wait 6 months to get her chair approved because “only the management was allowed to have chairs with arms”. I was appalled by that and disappointed that she ended up injured because of such a ridiculous and outdated policy.

I hope these tips give you some ideas for keeping your staff well. I wish you a safe, productive autumn and a healthy office!

About The Author

Kathy Gruver, author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, has earned her Doctorate as a Traditional Naturopath and Masters in Natural Health. Gruver has been featured as an expert is numerous publications and has written dozens of health and wellness articles. She has appeared as a guest expert on over 40 radio shows covering topics such as back pain, mind/body medicine, nutrition, and patient advocacy. Kathy has produced an instructional massage DVD, Therapeutic Massage at Home; Learn to Rub People the RIGHT Way. Free health tips and information about her and ordering her book and DVD can be found at www.TheAlternativeMedicineCabinet.com

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