Over 40? Here Are 5 Ways to Stay Healthy While Working 5 Days a Week
7 minute read
Are you over the age of 40 and starting to feel like the work week is just too long? A recent study found that people over the age of 40 perform better on the job when they are only working three days a week. Not only is production better, but the health of each person is improved as a result of less stress.
With the average retirement age getting later each year, it’s important to consider cutting the work week down as we get older.
Why You Should Be Working 3 Days a Week
The study looked specifically at how brain activity was affected during the work week. What researchers found was that while working stimulates the brain, which is good, after certain time exhaustion sets in.
Cognitive functioning improves up to a point, and after 25 hours of working during the week, it begins to decline. Essentially, even though you are at work beyond the 25 hours, you are not really there cognitively.
The decline in cognitive ability gets much worse after a 40 hour work week, which indicates that while overtime may have financial benefits, it’s devastating for your health. Working beyond the point that your brain is actively engaged is counterproductive, and this can cause mental as well as physical decline. Not to mention, stress can lead to decreased moods and motivation too.
To get the best from employees, especially those over 40, the 5-day work week really needs to be shortened.
Staying Healthy While Working
As the retirement age continues to get older every year, more and more people are working into old age. Since there is no way to stop the aging process, it becomes necessary to make sure you stay healthy as you get older. This is especially true for those who work into older ages.
Because work can be stressful, the health of those over 40 is at a higher risk, and it becomes essential to promote your health and happiness as you work later in life. While aging will inevitably affect your body in several ways, it doesn’t necessarily have to hinder performance.
If the person has a desire to work, then they will be able to, and there are things you can do to help you stay active and healthy while you work.
1. Be Accountable
Take responsibility for your health, and try to be aware of the aging process. Make sure you follow the appropriate nutrition, stick to an exercise routine, and keep regularly scheduled check-ups with your doctor.
Take notes of any changes and health problems you have so you can discuss them at every visit because your doctor cannot help you if they don’t know that something is going on. To be productive, and to live a long and full life, your health must be a priority.
2. Stay Connected
Humans are naturally social creatures, and we fare better when we have social connections. Social interactions and ties to the community benefit both physical and mental states of health. Many individuals consider this when deciding to work later in life because their job allows them to maintain social contacts.
If you find that your place of employment is full of mostly younger people, try asking to be assigned to groups to work with. This prevents you from being isolated and allows for teamwork.
Solutions and outcomes will be more diverse when a team consists of different ages, skills, and experiences. Merging skills will make a stronger team and a better workforce. And it helps you keep social ties.
3. Ask for Training
Just because new technologies develop every year doesn’t mean you should feel intimidated. Your brain is still up for learning new things and taking on challenges, so ask to be trained.
Do not let managers overlook you assuming you don’t have the skills or that you don’t want to learn them. Seek out training opportunities to better yourself and to allow you to be a more productive and integral part of the workforce.
Continuing to challenge yourself keeps your mind sharp and healthy. If there isn’t any training in place for a new piece of equipment or program, suggest this to management, and then be sure you are sitting in the front row.
4. Advocate for Your Needs
If there are things you need, be sure to lobby for them. You may need a flexible schedule due to appointments or caregiving responsibilities, or you may need to work from home on occasion.
Keep in mind that your workstation may not be comfortable, as you’ll have less access to ergonomic chairs, poor lighting, or noise pollution.
Whatever is interfering with your productivity and your health at the job needs to be addressed, so don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and get what you need.
5. Don’t Forget About Your Mental Health Too
Being physically comfortable at work is only part of the issue, your mental health is important too. Mental health contributes to overall health, and if you’re unhappy or overstressed, your job and your health will suffer.
You need to be aware of your stress levels and identify what causes them to elevate. If something needs to be changed at work, such as scheduling, then be sure to ask for it. If you need additional breaks away from your station, then take them.
You can also incorporate stress-reducing techniques outside of work or on your breaks, such as meditation, deep breathing, Tai Chi, and yoga.
The Bottom Line
They’re called the golden years because they’re supposed to be pleasant and enjoyable. When you have to work into later years, the pleasure can quickly be drained from life.
Financial situations cause people to work much later in life than they previously have. With the right care and using the tips above, you can stay healthy even though you’re getting older and are still working. This will come in handy if you can’t persuade your boss to cut the work week down to three days.