How to enjoy a healthy work life
Published on 29 June 2022 10:24 AM
If you are in your forties, fifties, or even early sixties, most likely you won’t feel old.
You may not have given much or any thought to what life will be like when you’ve retired. Or perhaps you have, telling yourself that’s when you’ll finally have time to enjoy all the activities you really want to do.
But unless you take care of your health and wellbeing up to retirement, you may find your later years less fulfilling than hoped. Healthy life expectancy is an estimate of the number of years someone lives in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ general health. In Scotland it’s been falling, for both males and females.
Poverty is a big culprit, with huge gaps in healthy life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas. And yes, changing this situation will require long term effort, resolve and leadership across politics and society.
But that doesn’t mean individuals are powerless. Regardless of our circumstances there are things we all can do during our working lives to maximise our chances of a healthy long life.
Mid-life is the ideal time to prioritise health as that’s when age-related changes can creep up on us. From our mid-30s we gradually lose muscle mass, but we also have the ability to build muscle at any age and the time and effort necessary for that is relatively small. Brain scans have shown that changes predictive of dementia can appear in mid-life many years before symptoms, yet science has also found that certain healthy behaviours can build the resilience of our brains through life.
Public health messages have long been broadcast far and wide, so you no doubt know that a good diet, regular physical exercise, not smoking and low or no alcohol consumption are key to healthy living. The bigger challenge is acting on that knowledge. Working lives can be busy and stressful, and looking after ourselves can sometimes get overlooked.
Many mid-life workers are juggle caring responsibilities, for either or both their children and parents. Modern life presents endless short-cuts and temptations that we know won’t help our health long-term, but that are hard to resist when we’re pushed for time, tired or demotivated.
That’s why Age Scotland has launched a new practical online workshop for workers mid-to-late career that focuses on how to weave wellbeing into busy working and personal lives.
The workshop assumes participants have a basic understanding of what’s necessary for good health, and while it will explore some of the lesser-known differences between health in mid-life and in later life, we won’t preach.
Instead, the emphasis is on ways of adjusting our surroundings and routines so that healthy behaviours become as easy and automatic as brushing your teeth. And by bringing together workers who share an employer or profession, we enable participants to explore at a safe remove how health and wellbeing changes can be applied to work situations like theirs.
This week is World Wellbeing Week, so an ideal time to find out how we can support mid-late career workers in your workplace get ready for a healthy long life.
For more information on how Age Scotland can support your older workers to build healthy habits, please visit: Health and wellbeing for older workers (ageuk.org.uk)