29 Oct 2010

Simple Mobility is the Secret!

Hi all,

In this blog entry I am going to give you a basic snippet of what forms the core of some of my Occupational Fitness workshops. After much research & liaising with other health professionals, it is clear that most muscular-skeletal disorders may be prevented by regularly moving our body through its full range of movement.

Some examples of mobility exercises are:
  1. Neck rotations
  2. Reverse shoulder rolls
  3. Spinal rotations
There are many more of these covering the whole body. The measures we take depends upon our daily activities:

Sedentary jobs / lifestyles require mobility exercises to maintain full joint range of motion & stretches to lengthen muscles that shortened as a result of our static position.

Active jobs / lifestyles require mobility as this also stimulates a fluid release in the joint that helps maintain our cartilage. Stretches are important here too as they will ease tension in the muscles that are constantly being used.

Try analysing your own lifestyle in light of the sedentary & active elements then decide what measures you can take. You can significantly increase your functional health & decrease your risk of muscular-skeletal disorders.

To learn more & see how this type of work can benefit your company by increasing the health & performance of your workforce please visit www.occupational-fitness.com, viewing our products and topics. Plus discover how we can help you overcome the huge problem of lower back pain.

21 Oct 2010

Efficiency Vs an active lifestyle - can we have both?

Hi all,

 Let me give you two scenarios of active lifestyles, see if any aspects sound familiar:

1) Sarah - Works in an office environment, pressured by targets and deadlines and so organises her daily tasks to be as time efficient as possible, e.g. combining meetings, visits to other departments / offices, errands and 'printer runs' in the morning, then blocking all desk based work together for that afternoon. Most nights after work Sarah stops off at the local gym before driving on home.

2) Lauren - Also works in an office environment with a similar job to Sarah. However she deliberately organises her day to be as active as possible, e.g. cycling to work, taking the stairs, mixing desk-work periods up with meetings, visits, 'printer runs', breaks, all over the course of the day. She also goes out for a walk to her favourite deli every lunch time. Lauren also stops at the gym on they way home but not as often as Sarah, and so has this time to relax at home.

So.. which lifestlye is best?  Both women get their jobs and get exercise done but in different ways. For people who don't like the gyms and are beginners looking to increase and maintain general health, fitness and good posture, then perhaps Lauren's lifestyle is the most effective. If you are training in a specific way or of an advanced fitness level aswell as being more methodical in your work, then your day may be similar to Sarah's.

Can both styles co-exist, well try to think of three ways that you can realisitcally increase your general health (inc posture & nutrition) tomorrow at work that won't take too much time. The implementation of these obviously depends on your job role and the amount of freedom you have with it, however you may just find these techniques increase your work perfomance as well as your health!

15 Oct 2010

Be more efficient........ stop!

Hi all,

I'd like to introduce you to the ‘Inhibition concept’, it is part of the Alexander Technique & can apply to anything, anywhere. It’s all about pausing just before we would have done something that we wouldn’t have otherwise had to think about. This could be bending over to put the washing in, adjusting your car / office seat or even signing off that paperwork - something that would have come as ‘second nature’.

Our bodies consist of a series of inbuilt reflexes that co-ordinate our muscles & joints to move in the most energy efficient & healthiest way; lets call this ‘first nature’. Through various activities & postures these reflexes can become suppressed and ‘bad habits’ become our norm or...wait for it....'second nature’. By developing the presence of mind to sometimes stop before we move (like the way a cat pauses or a toddler crawls intermittently), we can perhaps then proceed with a better option that doesn’t put as much stress on the body. It is likely that this action will match one of our suppressed reflexes, so in fact we are not developing a new behaviour but re-learning an old one.

The Inhibition concept isn’t just limited to physical movements; many senior mangers involve its principles when making important decisions. In roles that involve a lot of responsibility or pressure it can be very useful to stop and look at your work patterns & behaviour. Think of it like a personal risk assessment, ask yourself ‘do I always follow the same methods?’ ‘How could I address this differently?’ or ‘do I always get the same outcomes?’  Hopefully you will conclude that you are already operating in the best way in light of everything concerned, but others may find they are able to make a small change that improves their health & productivity.

Hopefully you found this blog entry slightly thought provoking, & if you did – nice work, that was your first recognised instance of inhibition! Remember to ‘inhibit’ all different parts of your lifestyle on a periodic or rolling basis.

Have a great weekend!

8 Oct 2010

Improve your sight with these quick techniques!

Hi folks,

Its Friday afternoon (I can hear your cheers now!) & this text looks a little fuzzy because you've been staring at a computer screen or the road all week long then try these simple eye exercises. They relax, condition, & are thought to even strengthen your eyes.

1) Changing focus
Hold a book as close to your eyes as possible without the print becoming blurred. Focus on the words for 15 seconds. Then, look at an object at least 10 feet away and focus on that. Repeat this five times. This exercise helps build stamina so you don’t experience eye fatigue as often when working on close tasks.
2) Eye “push-ups”
Hold a pencil at arm’s length in front of your face. Slowly move it toward your nose, holding your focus at the same spot on the pencil. The objective is to bring the pencil to the tip of your nose before you see a double image of the pencil. This exercise strengthens your the “convergence ability” of your eyes (that is, the ability of both eyes to aim at the same task), which helps prevent eye-strain and may eliminate the “floating print” that can occur when your eyes are tired.
Just like the muscles in our body, our eye focusing muscles become fatigued with constant use. The above exercises help re-train the muscles that may otherwise easily 'glaze over'. Obviously you won't notice an instant difference but if performed regularly (perhaps twice a day) you may see an improvement after a week. Think of the difference it could make to your health & work performance, just don't burn a hole in that paper or pencil in the process!

1 Oct 2010

Save time and money with your nutrition!

Everyone would like to eat healthier but most of us don't have the time, resources or knowledge to do so for every meal. Do you struggle to eat properly at work and just end up grabbing the usual butty from the local shop or settle for second best at the canteen? If we're in a rush this will probably be the case and then we'll get cravings for 'bad foods' later on. Well here's the answer - Bulk cook! Simple I know, and I'm sure many of you are aware of its benefits, if so treat this blog as a reminder or inspiration.

It's pouring down outside as I'm writing this so I know we will soon be in the mood for some tasty winter warming food. There are plenty of healthy cook books out there along with balanced recipes on the Internet, so there's no excuse for not getting a big pot of casserole on the go this Sunday afternoon. Use raw and fresh ingredients, slow cooking them to let the flavours infuse. Separate into portion bags and allow to cool for freezing before you enjoy a hot serving for your trouble.

As long as food is fresh, freezing it maintains most of its nutritious value. The time and effort you put in goes towards your 5-10 a-day, each day. All you have to do is defrost it overnight / in your bag and / or chuck it in the microwave it's ready to eat!

other tasty and very quick meal ideas are:
  • Chili con'carne
  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • Beef / vegetable stew
  • Tuna pasta bake
  • Fish / Shepard's pie
  • Vegetable hash
Such foods may be available from your canteens and  ready meals but you know exactly what goes in to the ones you've made!