When dealing with employees and dependents with CVD and/or diabetes, there are characteristics in the workplace that can either hinder or improve adoption of and adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors. The bad news is that many workplace factors increase an employee’s risk of diabetes and CVD, including:
- Stress: Jobs that are high stress with low or no control, or situations where an individual has no other options and is in a negative work atmosphere, are associated with adverse coping behaviors, higher rates of depression, anxiety and chronic stress, and less sleep/poorer quality sleep (Note: In many people, depression precedes the onset of diabetes)
- Long work hours: Jobs requiring long working hours impact leisure time and sleep, level of physical activity, and mental restorative practices (such as spending time with friends, family, pets)
- Shift work: Often causes short sleep or poor quality sleep and can lead to more fast food, decreased levels of physical activity and depressed mood (which can be associated with a higher risk of CVD and diabetes)
- Unhealthy food options: Promotes poor diet
- Sitting all day: Decreases overall physical activity and is an important risk factor for CVD and diabetes
There are many things employers can do related to the physical work environment, workplace culture and level of social support that can help improve adoption of and adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors, especially by those with diabetes and CVD.