August 2016: Commerce Corner

Workplace wellness: It really can be fun

Brooke Rouse

Brooke Rouse

Many of us spend a long day sitting in front of a computer, eating lunch at our desks, and eventually feeling the negative impacts of this routine on our health and wellness. When you think about it, this daily practice is not normal. Even on your biggest “couch potato” day at home, it is unlikely that you will sit in a chair in front of a screen for eight hours straight, unless of course, there is a great series marathon on Netflix.

The Institute for Health Care Consumerism notes that for many companies “health costs use up 50 percent or more of their corporate profits. In fact, the indirect costs of poor health, such as an absence from work and reduced work productivity, can result in two or three times the amount of direct medical costs.”

Here are some small tips on breaking up your day to feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.

Get your steps in. Set a goal for steps per day, starting with 5,000. Utilize a basic pedometer or a wrist device that connects to your smart phone to track how many steps you get. You will quickly see how little you get on a work day versus a weekend. Set your goal and keep an eye on it throughout the day. Think about parking your car farther away, taking a walk around the block during lunch or on your break. A 5,000 steps-per-day goal is achievable by anyone, with a little bit of awareness and very little effort. You can make it a challenge in your office by creating a chart or utilizing the apps to track and motivate each other. Up your step goal as soon as you feel like you are in a routine of walking more.

Walk and talk. Ask your supervisor or your colleague to discuss a topic over a walk, instead of while sitting across the table from each other. Brainstorm new ideas, have your evaluation conversation, or go over any other topics while you walk. Endorphins help to reduce stress while you are talking about threatening, exciting, or intimidating things. The fresh air, side-by-side contact, sunshine and physical activity may make for a more productive interaction … and you’ll be talking so much you won’t even realize that you hit your 5,000 steps.

Fun with food. Instead of placing mass orders at your local fast food restaurant, schedule a staff lunch every week or month and rotate who brings in the dishes; highlighting fresh ingredients of course. During farmers market season you can create a recipe challenge with certain unusual vegetables. Create a binder in the office to add each recipe to and make a little cook book for everyone at the end of the year.

Understand your workplace rights for breaks during the day, and use that time to get up and about, rather than continue to work at your computer or opting to check your Facebook updates. Talk to your employer about creating a wellness program in your company. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. Some insurance companies even decrease premiums when a wellness program is in place.

Brooke Rouse is executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Promotion Agent. She is a business owner, holds a master’s degree in tourism and is a former SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center Advisor. Contact her at brouse@stlawrencecountychamber.org or 386-4000.