Promoting Healthy Living in the Office

Promoting healthy living in an office environment can be a difficult task. The "It's good for you" approach may get the same reaction as it does from your kids. The office lifestyle is basically sedentary. It's not a very healthy lifestyle. People are stuck at their desks, and don't usually get the opportunity to move around and improve their circulation. Many people simply forget to take their ergonomic breaks, and others may be deep in work mode, concentrating on their screens or documents. People who are on the phone all the time can be literally glued to their seats for hours.

Office Lifestyle Problems

All office OHS systems do look at these problems, and there are usually some standard operating procedures to improve health related situations. But sometimes even the managers are so busy that these things are let slip. This creates another problem: A population of people who aren't fit enough to take up conventional exercise programs. Even basic aerobics can be asking too much of some people. They'd be at more risk of heart or respiratory problems than getting exercise.


Other, non fitness-related issues are a lot easier to deal with. Getting healthy, fresh food into the cafeteria or vending machines. The variety of choice is often enough to improve eating habits, sometimes on a long term basis.  One way of bringing the new food regime to everybody's attention is to issue a notice to staff in the form of a new menu. The subject will get a lot of discussion, and will definitely get interest if the cafeteria's normal fare has been attracting negative comments.  

Management can add some further credibility by dining there. That raises the status of the cafeteria food by implication, and also ensures some oversight of the catering contract. 

The holistic approach

There are several ways of approaching a healthy lifestyle in the office. All are voluntary participation based, and they're tailored to the needs of individuals. These health initiatives are usually developed by management in consultation with staff, as well as with OHS professionals. There are several considerations:

  • Viable forms of exercise for specific individuals: Diabetics, obese, or people with heart or respiratory issues must exercise within their safety zone, under trained fitness supervisors.
  • Good health values: Matching the healthy options to the needs of the people.
  • The health initiatives must be fun: They should be something people want to do, and enjoy.


There are a few really enjoyable, productive forms of exercise which are safe, pleasant, and encourage people to do more:

  • Yoga: This ancient form of fitness training is addictive, and extremely popular with its practitioners. You'll never need to remind someone to take a yoga class. Also good for those whose fitness precludes any more active sports or exercise, because it builds up fitness levels rapidly.
  • Aerobics: This type of training requires people to start at a safe level, and it's a very low risk option for anyone.
  • Sports: Safe, interesting sports include: Tennis, Basketball, Touch football, Squash and Golf. A company team can also help boost morale.