Thursday, November 15, 2012

healthy fieldwork?

There was a long discussion on ask a manager today about wellness initiatives through work. Part of the conversation revolved around the definition of "healthy".

I've had periods where I've been in the field essentially non-stop for months at a time, and periods where I've been essentially sedentary for equally long periods. I've alluded to this before, but I readily size up/down up to two pants/dress sizes based on what I'm doing - something that's really obvious on my small frame.

So the knee-jerk reaction would be to assume that I'm healthier if I'm working in the field. Lots of exercise. Hours and hours of exercise! Weight-bearing, even.

But what if I look a little closer?

When I'm in the field, I eat out for almost every meal (other than the ubiquitous granola bars for lunch). The ergonomics are terrible: there is no back-friendly way to lift a cooler and if I'm not standing on pavement (oh, my aching feet!) all day, I'm crouched over something or other and I can hardly stand up straight at the end of the day. I have a sensitive nailbed on one big toe, and if I get any moisture in my boots (precipitation, sweat, fall in a puddle), it will get nastily infected. I'll end up covered in random bruises and scratches and most likely, poison ivy. Besides all these minor irritations, I'm statistically more likely to be involved in an industrial accident, and much more likely to be in a vehicle accident.

So, yes, my BMI is much improved when I'm in the field. I'm not convinced that means it's healthier or cheaper for my insurance company or the institution I work for.

1 comment:

Ogre Sophist said...

So much goes into what makes a person healthy or not beyond simple weight/height calculations. Statistically education level, quality of life, mental health, whether you are a smoker or drinker, and family history all play a large role in your health. None of these, except education level, is readily apparent to your employer. More over, weight can well be a symptom of a problem caused by a condition protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act. An employer, if they are smart, will tread very carefully in regards to so called health initiatives in order to avoid ADA liabilities and other worker protection laws.