Tag Archives: wellness

Business taking steps towards a more active workforce

Staff at the Sit-Stand.com standing desk company are contractually obliged to take a 15-minute walk during office hours every working day.

It costs the company precisely nothing, but it is a healthy workplaces commitment to the principles of a business run by the founder of Active Working: to reduce the amount of time we spend sitting down at work.

And as CEO Gavin Bradley points out, once you’ve started your 15-minute walk-out, it will probably turn into more. Activity logged: job done.

Evidence is constantly growing that staff who spend most of their working day seated are both less productive and more inclined to suffer health problems. Office workers sit on average 10 hours each day, and 70% of this sitting time is at work. The solution is simple: stand up and move around more. It’s not complicated, it’s not expensive, just good business sense.

No surprise, then, that during a 90-minute meeting with Sit-Stand.com‘s director Gavin Bradley, we were on our feet the whole time. A standing meeting with the offer of a freshly-blitzed smoothie: I love a company that practises what it preaches, and this one certainly does.

It’s all part of a growing recognition of the fact that employers who take measures to enhance the health of staff benefit from people who are more motivated and productive, less likely to suffer stress and absenteeism and act as positive advocates for the business.

So why don’t more bosses take simple steps such as encouraging staff to move around more, step away from their work stations at regular intervals and pay more attention to their personal health outcomes?

It’s a business culture issue, but one that is certainly starting to change, as is evidenced by the increasing number of companies I work with who are recognising that supporting their workforce in making healthy choices does not have to be costly or time-consuming.

Workplace health-boosting measures can include steps as simple as moving bins away from desks so that staff are forced to stand and walk a short distance to dispose of rubbish, or encouraging greater use of stairs by posting inspirational Step Jockey style stickers beside the lifts.

Installing adjustable standing desks is becoming popular among employees, and is another relatively low-cost investment, with the entry level Sit-Stand.com Yo-Yo workstation costing well below £200.

In Denmark, 90% of employees have an adjustable standing desk. Health and wellbeing at work evangelist Gavin Bradley would love to see similar in the UK, and with his value range of adjustable sit-stand desks, PLUS his Active Working and Get Britain Standing campaigns, he is taking massive steps in helping move the world’s workforce towards a more active future. I’m in.

Find out more about how I can help YOUR business enhance its healthy workplace credentials

Why cutting your sugar intake is about more than obesity

UK health experts want to see less sugar in the foods we eat, fruit juice and fizzy drinks banned from the dinner table, and possibly even a sugar tax.

In an instant, the current recommended sugar intake has been halved, so that an adult woman should now aim to consume no more than 25g of added sugar (5-6 teaspoons) per day; 35g (7-8 teaspoons) for a man.

About time too. If as a nation we don’t take action on improving our diets, there is no chance of beating the obesity crisis whereby in the UK, 67% of men and 57% of women are either overweight or obese, according to a recent Global Burden of Disease study. More than a quarter of children are also overweight or obese.

But cutting your sugar intake is about more than obesity. Being overweight increases your likelihood of suffering from a whole raft of unpleasant conditions, with type-2 diabetes sitting right there at the top of the danger list. That’s right, you won’t just be fat. You will also be seriously unwell.

One in three adults in the UK are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes, and sufferers are getting younger. What used to be a later life condition is turning onto a middle age problem – and younger. But despite these warning signs, new research from ShARP (the Simply Health Advisory Research Panel) reveals that more than 60% of us are unconcerned about it, and 40% admit to general ignorance about Type-2 diabetes.

Maybe it’s time to start getting worried: if you’re overweight, inactive and have a family history of diabetes, the bad news is: You Are Likely To Get Diabetes. Fact.

Which means …
1. You’re FIVE TIMES more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, because diabetes damages your vascular system.
2. Painful foot ulcers caused by nerve damage as a result of diabetes are likely to reduce your mobility.
3. You’re 20 TIMES more likely to require a foot or lower leg amputation.
4. You’ll suffer more infections, because diabetes means high sugar levels in your body – and bacteria and fungi thrive on sugar!
5. You’ll be low on energy and suffer from extreme tiredness.
6. You may suffer renal disease because of the damage caused by high blood sugar to the small blood vessels within your kidneys. Kidney disease kills one in 10 people with type-2 diabetes.
7. You’re at increased risk of glaucoma and cataracts, which occur 10-15 years earlier in people with diabetes.
8. You are also more at risk from blindness as a result of retinopathy, because fluctuating blood sugars – especially high blood sugar, as in diabetes – damage the blood vessels at the back of your eye.
9. People with diabetes are 10-20 times more likely to lose their sight than a person with normal blood sugar levels.
10. Getting diabetes in middle age increases your likelihood of a form of brain damage associated with dementia.
11. In fact, blood sugar problems can actually shrink your brain: diabetics have an average of 2.9% less brain volume than non-sufferers, scans at the world-famous Mayo Clinic have shown.
12. Your long- and short-term memory will deteriorate as a result of diabetes: a condition known as vascular dementia.
13. You are at high risk of suffering from depression.

Well, wouldn’t you be depressed on realising that you’ve contracted a preventable disease that entails serious life changes (ongoing medication to control your diabetes and related conditions, taking more exercise, avoiding foods that contain glucose – that’s sugar, folks) – for the rest of your life?

Go easy on the sugar and do your whole body a favour.

Bravo! ‘mangerbouger’ France

While I was skiing in the French Alps last week, it caught my eye that ads for Coca Cola and Powerade carried a healthy living message – like we see on ads for alcohol in the UK to encourage drinking in moderation.

French Powerade ad

Power up with Powerade France

Intrigued, I did some research, and yep, forget France’s reputation for heart attack cuisine, it turns out the government is pushing nutrition and exercise as a means to improve the nation’s health. And rather than paying for all advertising themselves, they’re are making food and drinks manufacturers push the wellness message on their behalf.

Brilliant huh? As a result, all processed food and drinks products with added sugar, sweeteners or salt, have to display the prominent message ‘Pour votre santé, évitez de manger trop gras, trop sucré, trop salé.’  ‘For your health, avoid eating too many fats, sugar and salt.’ Plus a link to the website www.mangerbouger.fr

The programme for national health and nutrition (PNNS), which is behind the ongoing  campaign, has been in place since 2001 with the goal of improving health among the French population. And it’s scored some fine successes: a reduction in the number of overweight/obese children; a drop in the consumption of salt and sugar; and an increase in the amount of fruit eaten by adults.

But as its name suggests, the mangerbouger campaign doesn’t simply focus on nutrition. Physical activity is the second crucial message it promotes, recommending the equivalent of half an hour’s brisk walking daily for adults (an hour for children and teenagers).

French Coca Cola ad

Buvez, skiez! : Drink, ski!

So rather than attempting to ban or tax ‘unhealthy’ foodstuffs, the French Government is both spreading the message of mindful eating – be aware that this product may be higher in fat, salt or sugar than is necessarily good for you – and that combining exercise with consumption is the best way of improving your health. Plus they’ve roped in the multi-nationals to help pay for it.

Now that’s what I call a bonne idée.

Puppy hugging: good for the soul

Celia_puppyIs there anything you’d rather do than cuddle a puppy? I popped on down to the London Pet Show at Earls Court with the kids for exactly that reason today.

The place is packed with smiling, friendly animal lovers – as well as dogs, ducks, showjumping Swedish rabbits (apparently Scandi bunnies are the best jumpers. Yes, really!), cats, snakes, hamsters, guinea pigs, darling little miniature hedgehogs; I could go on. Basically, if you like stroking, holding and talking about pets, the annual London Pet Show is definitely the place to be.

Wellness – yes: everyone knows that puppy hugging is good for the psyche. Peace and tranquility – hmm, less so: all the way home, ‘Mummy, when can we have a puppy?’ Predictable, I guess.