Posts tagged health and wellness
3 Office Habits to Make & 4 To Break

Staying healthy at work can be quite a challenge, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm. Here are 3 ways to boost your workplace wellness and 4 habits that are negatively effecting it.

Healthy Habits to Make:

1. Drink more water

Coffee is the energy-boosting drink of choice at most offices. Did you know that water also has energizing benefits? Keep a pint of water by your desk at all times and drink frequently. Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of dehydration. Stay hydrated and stay stimulated.

2. Pop a piece of gum

Gum can do more than just freshen your breath; it also boosts cognitive performance and increases energy. Researchers suggest that chewing gum enhances performance due to “mastication-induced arousal,” meaning that just the act of chewing wakes us up and keeps us focused.

3. Clean your desk at the end of the day

Your creative process can be messy, but your desk doesn’t have to be. Allot 10 minutes every evening to clean up your desk, put away any errant papers, tidy all of your cables, and toss your trash. The next morning you’ll arrive to a more peaceful working environment.

Unhealthy Habits to Break:

1. Arriving late to the office

Arriving late gets your day off to a hurried, stressful start. Instead, try to arrive 30 minutes early so you can deliberately set your priorities and settle in before the office chaos crescendos.

2. Keeping a mile-long to-do list

Nothing feels quite as satisfying as checking items off your to-do list. Conversely, nothing feels quite as daunting as seeing that you have a torrent of tasks left to complete. Instead of making a protracted list of to-dos, start your day by identifying your one Most Important Task (MIT). Your MIT should always be specific and achievable. This simple act will give you a sense of purpose as you go about your workday.

3. Always saying yes

Most people feel over-committed and overworked in the office. This leads to stress, fatigue, and anxiety. Get out of the habit of saying yes to obligations that don’t make sense for you. It can feel difficult to say no to your co-workers, but think of it in terms of opportunity costs. Economist Tim Harford explains it this way, “everytime we say ‘yes’ to a request, we are also saying ‘no’ to anything else we might accomplish with the time. It pays to take a moment to think about what those things might be.”

4. Sitting in your office chair

Your office chair is seriously draining your office energy and creativity. This spring, do yourself a favor and replace your office chair with an upright seat. Doing so will keep your body and mind engaged, boosting productivity and performance.

Content found online at Focal, May 19, 2015.

We Think Better on Our Feet

A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, were based on a study of almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Engagement was measured by on-task behaviors such as answering a question, raising a hand or participating in active discussion and off-task behaviors like talking out of turn.

Standing desks - also known as stand-biased desks - are raised desks that have stools nearby, enabling students to sit or stand during class at their discretion. Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, who is an ergonomic engineer by trade, originally became interested in the desks as a means to reduce childhood obesity and relieve stress on spinal structures that may occur with traditional desks. Lessons learned from his research in this area led to creation of Stand2LearnTM, an offshoot company of a faculty-led startup that manufactures a classroom version of the stand-biased desk.

Benden’s previous studies have shown the desks can help reduce obesity - with students at standing desks burning 15 percent more calories than students at traditional desks (25 percent for obese children) - and there was anecdotal evidence that the desks also increased engagement. The latest study was the first designed specifically to look at the impact of classroom engagement.

Benden said he was not surprised at the results of the study, given that previous research has shown that physical activity, even at low levels, may have beneficial effects on cognitive ability.

“Standing workstations reduce disruptive behavior problems and increase students’ attention or academic behavioral engagement by providing students with a different method for completing academic tasks (like standing) that breaks up the monotony of seated work,” Benden said. “Considerable research indicates that academic behavioral engagement is the most important contributor to student achievement. Simply put, we think better on our feet than in our seat.”

The key takeaway from this research, Benden said, is that school districts that put standing desks in classrooms may be able to address two problems at the same time: academic performance and childhood obesity.

Originally published on HealthNewsDigest.com, April 23, 2015.

Are You Endangering Your Employees’ Health?

by Rieva Lesonsky

With companies of all sizes seeking to cut healthcare costs and avoid penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act, we’re hearing lots of news about instituting workplace wellness programs as a way to promote a healthier workforce.

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Workplace practices such as ergonomic office spaces, meditation, mid-day naps, standing desks and walking meetings are being put forth as ways to create a healthier workforce.

Healthier employees benefit business in many ways. They take fewer sick days, are more productive, visit the doctor less often and are less likely to have chronic health conditions that cause their and, in turn, your business’s health insurance rates to rise.

That’s why the news in a study from Employers, an insurance specialist, is so disheartening. It reports that small companies are less likely than big ones to promote healthy workplace practices. Specifically:

  • 77 percent of small businesses don’t offer employees non-traditional seating options such as stand-up desks, treadmill desks or balance balls
  • 29 percent of small business owners say their employees typically sit for more than an hour at a time during the workday

The study points out that jobs are becoming increasingly sedentary and notes research showing that sitting for too long can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and other health problems.

Consider the greater productivity you could achieve when your employees are more alert and energized. Reminding everyone to get up and stretch once an hour via the intercom or an on-screen alert on their computers can make a huge difference in health and energy levels.

Employees who work on computers most of the day should have the ergonomic equipment (desk chairs, keyboards, wrist rests and other devices) to provide a comfortable setting. Otherwise, their productivity will suffer and they could easily develop repetitive stress injuries that would rightly be cause for worker’s compensation claims.

Some small employers are also ignoring basic mental and physical health issues for employees. One-fourth of hourly and salaried employees of small companies report going three or four hours without taking a break, while 42 percent don’t use their allotted time off each year.

Taking regular, short breaks is not only crucial to refreshing employee energy, preventing errors and possibly dangerous accidents, but is also required by law for many workers. If you aren’t letting employees take breaks when they’re legally entitled, you could be setting yourself up for lawsuits.

Encouraging employees to use their time off also has benefits for you and them. For one thing, when employees who never take time off finally quit, you could end up owing them a huge chunk of wages for the time off they didn’t use. In the shorter term, of course, you’re dealing with employees who are burned out and less effective because they’re not getting any downtime.

Ignoring employee wellness not only puts their health at risk, but puts your business at risk too. That’s downright unhealthy, especially when the remedies are so easy.

Originally published on smallbiztrends.com, February 2015.

4 Quick Desk Stretches to Ease Tension

IMAGE: Daily Genius

1. Upper Back Stretch

Sit up straight with your fingers interlaced behind your head. Keeping your shoulders down, lift your chest and bring your elbows back as far as you can. Hold for 10 seconds.

2. Shoulder Rotations

Sit up straight. Bring your shoulders up to your ears and then back behind you. Then move them forward, making imaginary circles. Do 10 forward rolls, then roll shoulders in the reverse direction 10 times. 

3. Overhead Reach

Raise your arms over your head and interlace your fingers with palms facing up. Keeping your shoulders down, stretch upwards. Hold for 20 seconds.

4. Waist Bend

Reach your arms overhead with your fingers laced together. Facing forward with your shoulders down, bend to one side from the waist. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

It's Time to Stop the War Against the Open Office

by Blake Zalcberg

It’s no longer fashionable to hate the cubicle. The hot new trend is to bash the open office.

It seems like every week there’s a new thinkpiece arguing that the trend towards more open- office layouts in American businesses is bad. Not just bad. Terrible. Literally, the worst thing ever.

The headlines tell the story: “The open-office trend is destroying the workplace.” “Why the open-concept office trend needs to die.” “The dark side of open offices.” “The open office trap.”

We’re told that open offices cause distractions, reduce productivity, irritate introverts and maybe even spread the flu and other germs.

Some of this criticism is grounded in genuine concerns. But at this point, it feels like a lot of these pieces are not accurately describing the ideas behind the open-office movement. Yes, there are bad examples of open offices: free-for-alls with no privacy and no protection against noise and nosy coworkers. But as someone once sort-of wrote, every unhappy office is unhappy in its own way. There are also cubicle farms where workers feel isolated, flexible workspaces with uncomfortable chairs, and even corner offices that feel cold and uninviting.

The critics are right about one thing: the open office is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every workplace. Nothing is. Every industry, every company and every department has its own needs and deserves an office design that works for it.

Consider human resources. No one thinks that the people who advise staffers on delicate personal situations should do so while sitting in a wide-open space.

At the same time, creative types working on a group project shouldn’t be tucked away in quiet rooms where they never interact with each other.

The open office works best when it involves small- to medium-sized groups of people who frequently collaborate on projects that require creative thinking.

But no office should be 100 percent open–or closed for that matter. There’s always going to be a need for a private office where business deals and personnel matters can be discussed or a conference room where a small group can hash out a new strategy or even a cafeteria table where a couple coworkers can informally trade ideas over tuna sandwiches.

The truly effective modern workplace isn’t just a mindless off-the-shelf floorplan based on whatever the hot trend of the moment is. It’s tailored to the needs of that office’s employees. With so many of today’s workers engaged in creative work, that means open offices where people can trade ideas, easily gather in spontaneous group meetings and tell at a glance which of their coworkers are available.

An open office also requires a different office style.

People who don’t want to be bothered right now should be comfortable putting on headphones without their coworkers taking offense. Companies should also create some flexible spaces where people can go when they need more privacy. And managers should accept that workers may need to sometimes goof off on the Internet to recharge their brain.

The open office isn’t for everyone. Some people may never want to work in one. Some businesses may be better with a more traditional layout. And some examples of open offices are no doubt poorly designed and implemented.

What businesses and organizations alike should consider is the idea of a modular office with versatile furniture. An office should be designed in a way that you can create a certain layout when you need it. Sometimes privacy is necessary, but there are times when having an open-office layout that fosters collaboration makes sense.

Office design isn’t an all or nothing. Under one roof a company can have some traditional offices, a few cubicles, a conference room, and some open-office space where its employees can work collaboratively. It doesn’t have to choose an open-office plan or not. It doesn’t have to decide to have a traditional office design or not.

But bashing the open office is getting a little too easy. It’s not destroying the workplace or trapping America’s workers on the dark side, and it doesn’t need to die.

Originally published on The Huffington Post, February 2015.

6 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee at Work

by John Boitnott

imageIMAGE: Getty Images

The workplace has begun to replace the coffee shop for many American employees. People employed in an office where coffee is served often skip Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks to save a few bucks by indulging in the free brew.

While starting the day off with a cup of java is a perfectly acceptable practice, many employees return to the coffee pot time and time again throughout the day, filling their body with loads of caffeine, and potentially high levels of sugar if they choose to sweeten their beverage.

A hot drink or a beverage break while working is loved by many–and throwing out the coffee pot to improve employees’ health without replacing it with something equally as satisfactory isn’t advised. For seven healthy alternatives to serving coffee in the workplace that your employees–and their bodies–will love, try the following:

1. Kombucha Tea

You’ve probably heard about this one but don’t know too much about it. Kombucha is a type of yeast. When you ferment it with tea, sugar, and other flavors or ingredients you make Kombucha tea. While the benefits of Kombucha are debated, many claim that it is useful for treating memory loss, preventing cancer, helping with high blood pressure, and more.

2. Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is the good alternative to coffee for those who can’t start the day without a cup o’ caffeine. Providing the same buzz that coffee gives, Yerba Mate is preferred by many as it’s packed with nutrients, too. Mate is made from the naturally caffeinated leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree. It is widely known for not having the heavy “crash” that coffee can bring. Another benefit of Yerba Mate is that it can be prepared and consumed in a variety of ways–hot, cold, with honey, in a tea infuser, in a French press, or even in a traditional coffee machine.

3. Tea

Most offices will have this available for you already. The teapot offers a very healthy alternative to the office coffee machine. Teas come in a myriad of forms and blends and can be drunk hot or cold. There is a massive selection of green, black, herbal, and specialty teas out there, many of which are caffeine-free and naturally sweet enough to pass on the sugar. Many teas are a well-known source of antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals.

4. Coconut Water

Tea and coconut water are two of the healthier drinks on the market growing in popularity the fastest. Coconut water is a clear, milky liquid that comes from green, young coconuts. Coconut water is naturally sweet, contains bioactive enzymes and is chock full of rehydrating electrolytes, which makes it a good replacement for sugary sports drinks.

5. Sparkling Water

While it’s not the most exciting beverage in the world, sparkling water can be a refreshing alternative to both coffee and water. Especially when flavored with natural, sugar-free, fruit extracts, sparkling water is delicious and hydrating. There is a lot of competition in the marketplace from Perrier to San Pellegrino.

6. Hot Apple Cider

Hot apple cider’s sweet tanginess offers its own unique pick-me-up in lieu of caffeine, and its soothing warmth is just as satisfying as that of coffee on a cold fall or winter morning. In addition to its natural sweetness, because apples are the key ingredient, apple cider offers health benefits not available in coffee.

Originally published on Inc, October 14, 2014.

Innovant's Jillian Aurrichio to Run NYC Marathon 2014

Cheering Jillian on this weekend and wishing her the best of luck!

innovant-events:

imageImage: NY What To Do

Jillian Aurrichio was recently welcomed to Innovant’s Sales Operations Team as an Account Manager. Jillian’s previous professional experience includes both Account and Project Management at WB Wood. Her understanding of client expectations and consistent responses to their needs make her a dependable team member on both large and small projects. 

Jillian has been a runner for many years, and will embark on her first marathon this Sunday, November 2. As a member of the NY Road Runners Club, Jillian epitomizes Innovant’s commitment to health and wellness. The entire Innovant team wishes Jillian much success this weekend.