Health in the Workplace Part 4
A significant influencer of our health related to our modern workplaces is how little physical movement many of us get throughout the work day. To change our health, we need to change this fact.
Our ancestral lifestyles were centered around a lot of daily body movement followed by a lot of rest. We didn’t sit in chairs all day long. We didn’t sit in cars. We didn’t have a primarily sedentary lifestyle. But if it was time to rest, we would rest.
Generally speaking, the pattern of our day was centered around movement. We were walking, we were lifting, we were pushing, we were pulling, we were squatting, we were kneeling, we were hanging, we were climbing—and that’s what our bodies were built to do. By doing this, we give our muscles, joints, connective tissues, brain, proprioceptors, and cerebellum the information that we still want to maintain all those functions. We want our body to work for us. If we don’t move, our body will down-regulate our ability to move. That’s how it works; our body is an energy conserver, which means less movement results in loss of physical potential.
The more information we give our body physically, the more it can do for us, and the better we feel mentally. It all ties in together.
We should absolutely be encouraging those around us and leading the way by example at our organizations. As you work through your day, take a few minutes to kneel, squat, push, pull, jump, and move. We need to create an environment where it’s common to see one another moving around, using our bodies, and getting into different positions so that it becomes the norm.
You’re not going to get 6-pack abs by doing these small movements at work every day. But you will be giving your body the information it needs to thrive for you biomechanically, which leads to you feeling good.
Biomechanical complaints are one of the biggest drivers of health plan costs. Once physical complaints require the medical system, they will often result in injections, MRIs, arthroscopies, and physical therapy, all of which get very expensive. It is much better to prevent this by developing workplace habits and environments that support biomechanical health.
We can create environments that support overall daily movement and allow us to use our bodies according to their design.
As human beings, it’s also important for us to activate the part of our mind that has allowed us to become what we are. The neocortex, the portion of our minds that allows us to be self-determining and make progress towards our goals, enables positive emotions and feelings such as compassion, love, peace, contentment, and gratitude. It allows us to have an experience that fosters well-being, and then figure out what it takes to recreate that state of being. This part of our minds is a powerful processing center that is foundational to pursuing our best health.
If you have conditioned your mind to pursue optimal health and wellbeing, you won’t need any tips or instruction about how to be healthy, because your own internal compass will naturally point you in the right direction. Your internal compass for health will work because you’re giving your body the right information. When you encounter the wrong information which erodes your wellbeing, you will quickly know you're off track and be able to make adjustments.
We must wake up and become very intentional about who we are and what we want for ourselves. Then, in a non-coercive, non-judging way, help each other to stay on the path of authentic health and wellbeing. This can become integrated into the culture of our workplaces.
Finally, in our next post, we discuss the importance of hydration and nutrition in the workplace.