Your job may be your livelihood, but chances are it’s also having a dangerous effect on your life and health. You might think that stress is the number one problem, and while it is high on the list, there are actually other factors that can be more dangerous to your health. Below are some of the most common job-related health threats, as well as ways you can work around them.
Heath Threat 1: Sitting
Sitting is one of the worst things you can do to your body. It compresses the organs in your torso, irritating your pancreas and obstructing your breathing. It also slows down your circulation, which allows fatty acids in your blood to clog your arteries, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. It turns your muscles to jelly and can even make you more prone to colon cancer. Slouching makes things even worse by putting strain on your back and neck muscles. Even if you exercise every day, it’s not enough to counteract the effects of spending eight hours or more sitting at your desk.
The best solution is to spend less time sitting. You can get up and walk around every 30 minutes to get your blood flowing, or you can invest in a sit stand desk. These types of desks adjust so that you can easily go from sitting to standing, and continue to do your work. You can even adjust them up permanently and do all of your work from a standing position.
Health Threat 2: Bad Air
Most modern office buildings are sealed up tight, which means that anything that gets into the air just circulates around. To put it bluntly, the air inside most office buildings is gross.
· There are all of the gases released by plastics, cleaning chemicals, carpeting adhesives, wood varnishes and other chemical agents.
· Another issue is the bits of bacteria floating around the ventilation system.
· Office equipment, like printers, faxes and copiers and, of course, throw off dust and debris that can irritate your lungs.
· There are also your fellow coworkers, who sometimes come into work sick; a simple sneeze can carry a cold or flu to all corners of the office.
The EPA calls the health effects of bad office air Sick Building Syndrome, and it can be murder on your health.
The best solution is to work in a place where you can open the windows and get some fresh air and cross ventilation. Of course, that’s not possible for most people, so the next best option is to get out of the office as much as possible. For example, while you’re taking a break from sitting at your desk, consider walking outside for some fresh air. If you are in charge of scheduling maintenance, consider hiring a company to clean and change the filters on your HVAC system. You can also contribute to the health of the office by getting a yearly flu vaccine, and staying at home when you’re sick.
Health Threat 3: Bad Food
Working long hours at work usually means eating a lot of restaurant meals. Whether you are eating fast food, or getting carryout from a more upscale restaurant, chances are you are getting more calories, fat, and sodium than you would from a home-cooked meal. Eating out also means that you are less likely to make healthy choices, like adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals. There’s also the fact that eating during work often means eating on the run, which can cause poor digestion, even if you make healthy food choices.
Try to take some time each week to pack a healthy lunch instead of eating out. If you have to eat breakfast at work, stock up on foods that you can keep in your desk, or store in the fridge, and require little preparation, like shelf-stable yogurt, boiled eggs in the shell, granola, and instant oatmeal. If you don’t have time to pack, try to find nearby restaurants that specialize in healthier options. Also, try to take some time to eat and enjoy your meal, rather than scarfing down your meal between meetings.