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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Office staff at 300 companies targeted in healthy workplace campaign

Drinking water and performing light exercises during working hours were some of the recommendations of the new initiative.

Three hundred UAE companies have been targeted by a campaign to get office workers to be less sedentary by stretching and drinking water during their shifts.

The My Employees’ Health First initiative, launched by Arabian Healthcare Group on Monday, helps motivate workers to remain active throughout the day in a bid to address the growing number of chronic ailments stemming from being stationary at a desk for hours on end.

Some of the recommendations include physical activity at regular intervals during office hours, taking a short break every hour to unwind and doing exercises to help relax the neck, shoulders, wrist and back muscles.

“In this day and age, where more and more people are falling victim to illnesses, we have to take full responsibility of our health,” said Rabab Al Tajir, the first Emirati female car rally driver. “But because we are so wrapped up in our daily routine, we don’t find the time or inclination to focus on our fitness. I have full confidence that this campaign will be the much-needed motivation, and will guide many office workers to include exercises in their otherwise inactive routines.”

Some of the companies taking part include the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain, RAK Ceramics, Ritz-Carlton hotels, Al Hamra Real Estate and RAK Airport.

Five ways to stay healthy in the office. Ramon Penas / The National
Five ways to stay healthy in the office. Ramon Penas / The National

According to reports, a sedentary lifestyle has become one of the major contributing factors to health issues such as diabetes, ischemic heart disease, neuropathy and obesity.

“I started getting problems with my back and blood pressure from constantly sitting down without any kind of movement,” said Anise Letto, a Dubai-based French national who works in administration.

“We don’t even walk a lot in the UAE in general, so having a desk job can make it really tricky to stay in shape. I now try to perform little tasks while standing or walking if I’m able to, and I’ve put a special pillow on my chair to support my lower back.”

Some diseases are growing among UAE desk workers, namely degenerative spine disease, slipped disc, narrow spinal cord and vertebral fractures. Doctors say sitting all day in head-forward and slumped-shoulder positions can affect breathing and blood flow to the brain. People are also advised to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

“The initial two months will focus on what we call Just Move, which includes the four main pillars: work, stretch, drink, repeat,” said Dr Raza Siddiqui, chief executive of the group and executive director at RAK Hospital.

“The human body is not designed for a long period of inactivity but the punishing demands of jobs leaves very little time for workouts. This is where a few well-timed measures can go a long way in dodging lifelong ailments.”