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Wellness doesn’t have to stop at work

March 10, 2012
Reinbeck Courier

Include physical activity and healthy nutrition at work

Even the most sincere dedication to a healthier lifestyle can be derailed by the challenges presented by the eight or more hours per day most adults spend in the workplace. Healthy food choices and increased physical activity often seem easier 'after hours,' when you can be in charge of what foods are in the refrigerator or pantry and you have time to exercise. In reality, the workplace is an ideal location to sneak more physical activity into your daily schedule and it's surprisingly easy to make healthy food choices while still excelling at your job.

"Just 150 minutes of exercise per week, or about 20 minutes per day, results in many health benefits," said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Physical Activity Coordinator Sarah Taylor Watts. "Incorporating movement into your daily work schedule can be easy if you look for opportunities." Opportunities for increased physical activity at work include:

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator; you burn nearly five times more calories while avoiding the wait by the elevator doors.

Taking brief walk breaks throughout the day.

Using bathrooms on different floors (use the stairs to get there).

Hosting walking meetings or chats by dedicating a portion of your meeting or break to take place while walking.

Taking out your own trash.

Planning for daily activity; recruit coworkers to join in.

While many vending machines now offer healthy choices, depending on these machines for energy through the workday can be a nutritional nightmare. Ways to keep your healthy eating plan on track at work include:

Taking turns at the office providing healthy snacks set criteria, such as less than 200 calories per serving.

Organizing a workplace potluck featuring healthy food choices.

Celebrating special events like birthdays with fruit salad, veggies with dip, or whole wheat crackers and hummus. Even moving from large slices of cake to mini-muffins is a positive improvement.

When lunches or drinks are provided at meeting, offering healthy choices like water or 100 percent juice.

Creating or expanding a healthy cafeteria policy or program at your worksite.

For more information on creating healthy Iowa worksites, visit



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