“Employee health awareness and healthy initiatives helps reduce absenteeism," stressed Badriya Al Harmi, community medicine specialist at Dubai Health Authority (DHA)’s Al Barsha Health Centre.
“It helps reduce the burden of non-communicable lifestyle diseases and reduces companies’ healthcare costs.
"Therefore employee health awareness is benefial for employees, the community and the company. The DHA regularly carries out health education initiatives for its employees including free health screenings and workshops to educate employees about ways to stay healthy.”
The awareness initiatives include several topics such as health and nutrition, need for regular health screenings, importance of vitamin D, correct work posture and chair exercises to perform throughout the work day etc.
Shaima Qayed, senior clinical dietician at Nad Al Hamar said, “Nutrition and exercise are the two cornerstones to achieve a healthy lifestyle. We spend so many hours at work and unless we plan and prepare our meals, we will end up faltering and eating unhealthy foods.
"So, our suggestion to our employees is to firstly ensure they never miss their breakfast and ideally consume it within thirty minutes of waking up. This jump starts the metabolism and prevents weight gain.
"Breakfast gives the body and mind energy and nutrition to get through the day and balances the blood sugar levels. The next step is to ensure they pack healthy snacks and lunch from home.
“Snacks are important to prevent rise and fall in blood sugar levels and it is a great way to prevent overeating during meal times. However, exercising portion control is important while having snacks.”
Qayed said that in terms of lunch, employees who do not carry lunch from home are prone to overeating and eating unhealthy foods or junk foods such as chips as a substitute. “This is one of the most common ways to pile on the pounds without getting any nutrition which leads to being overweight and even obese in the long run. We advise employees to beat the afternoon office slump by bringing lunch from home, which is packed with fibre and blood sugar-balancing wholegrains and lean meats.
"Combining protein and fibre with carbs will also help employees get through the afternoon without feeling sluggish and this means they will not consume excessive amounts of caffeine.
“In today’s times we are already overstimulated so it’s better to cut down on caffeine and processed sugar. We do not need too much tea and coffee and using caffeine to cut down appetite has several negative effects on the body. Opt instead for water, milk, a yogurt smoothie, green or herbal teas. Instead of sweets, chocolate and biscuits have fruits, dates, raisins and natural sources of sugar to satisfy that sweet craving.”
Al Harmi said just as it is important for employees to plan their meals exercise routine as well. “ To stay healthy, it is recommended to exercise for at least thirty minutes per day for five days or get an hour of exercise thrice a week. This is the amount needed to stay healthy but if one wants to achieve weight loss, they need to exercise more than this.
"Rest days are crucial to help the body recover, so after three continuous days of exercising, it is important to take a day off. To reap maximum benefits of exercise, one should do various forms of exercise which includes cardiovascular exercises and weight training.”
The DHA regularly provides opportunities for employees to take part in group exercise training programs. The DHA had organized a walking and jogging group for its employees called Afiya, which was aimed to help kick-start the habit of regular exercise.