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How to Stay Healthy at the Office

Helping everyone in your office stay healthy, fit, and anxiety-free is quite a challenge. But even the most cash-strapped company can do something to help make health a priority. "Regardless of the size of your company, having policies in place to support wellness will make getting healthy easier for people," says Brenda Loube, co-founder of Corporate Fitness Works, a consultant in Montgomery Village, Md. Here are 10 easy, cheap ways to make your office healthier.

• Make hand-washing a priority. Post a notice in bathrooms about correct hand washing techniques, such as a reminder that washing your hands should take the same amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.

• Instead of doughnuts or pastries at morning meetings, serve fruit. In the afternoons, replace soda and chips with water and veggie sticks.

• Buy bike racks for your building, or provide secure closet space for bikes in your office. More people will ride bikes to work if they have somewhere safe to store them.

• Start voluntary interest clubs for activities such as cycling or healthy cooking. Ask for volunteers to lead them and organize events.

• Make your stairways comfortable and inviting, with pictures and decent lighting. Many companies encourage employees to use stairs instead of elevators, but nobody will do it if the stairwell is dark and scary.

• Create a calendar of monthly health themes, such as Heart Health Month or Blood Pressure Month. Provide information in common areas about those subjects, or host a meal incorporating foods relevant to the theme.

• Bring in DVDs of funny films or TV shows and play them in your break room. "Workplace stress is a huge issue, so anything you can do to break people out of their routine is beneficial," says Kathy Cash, a wellness consultant in Nashville.

• Don't use the phone or e-mail for interoffice activity. Encourage everybody to walk to the other side of the floor or upstairs to talk to their co-workers.

• When weather allows, get out of the office by having walking meetings . Carry a small handheld recorder for taking notes.

• Build a wellness library, with information about different health issues, exercise, and nutrition. Provide exercise DVDs or fitness equipment (secondhand is fine) staffers can borrow.

Return to the BWSmallBiz August/September 2009 Table of Contents

Choi is a staff writer for BusinessWeek SmallBiz in New York.

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