28 Apr 2011

Eating @ work

Hi folks,

One of my blog-followers Steve, has asked me to give some information about what food to eat while at work. So without boring you with too much detail, below is my basic guide:

This is important to give you slow release energy for the day & stop cravings! Go for complex carbs such as wholegrain cereals or toast, add eggs for protein to wake you up. You could also involve a few sugars in the way of fruit / fruit juice.

Mid-morning snack:
If you really can’t manage breakfast then make sure you have some of the above foods here. If you have had breakfast then go for a healthy cereal bar, yogurt & fruit here. Eating smaller meals every three hours is much better for your digestion than just three big meals.

Aim for a balanced lunch containing complex carbs such as a baked potato, protein such as lean chicken/ fish, with some mixed salad for fibre & vitamins. Use cold olive oil as a healthy drizzle if needed.

Mid afternoon snack:
This is a great time for a couple pieces of fruit which will give you an energy boost up to tea time. If you’re going to be exercising after work then a source of protein such as mixed nuts, eggs, or small meat sandwich would be good here.

Tea time:
Go big on the meat / fish & vegetables here! Just a small amount of complex carbs (potato, rice, pasta, bread) as the body is winding down soon. If you’ve been exercising & just got home then it’s still important to eat – no matter how late.

This is a balanced diet based on a typical working day (not shifts), & remember to drink around 8 glasses of water between meals if possible.

Enjoy the Royal wedding!


21 Apr 2011

Burn the brain fog!

Hi folks,

Most of us have little spare time, whether it’s filled with important responsibilities or a compilation of daily tasks that have become part of a routine. We often jam our days full of jobs then flop down on the sofa just before bedtime, next morning it all starts again! These jobs could be something you absolutely love doing, or hate but either way take a step back & analyse them. Often our brains don’t get chance to ‘wake up’ as they’re constantly obsessed with the next task.

Think about your priorities in life, what’s important to you, and the overall aim of your daily activities. Do your daily routines / tasks make the best headway to achieving this aim? If yes, perfect! If no, what do you need to change?

Give yourself 5 minutes right now to think if you are heading in the right direction, & then what the next productive step needs to be. No, I'm not turning in to a life coach, just a thought that may help improve workplace health & performance.

Use this technique in the workplace & with your workforce in one-to-one appraisals or consultations, emphasising job performance & satisfaction as the aims. Also why not use this approach in group training exercises & meetings to really boost those increasingly vital psychosocial factors of workplace health?

Have a great bank holiday weekend


14 Apr 2011

The best exercise!

Hi folks,

As a trainer people always ask me what types of exercises are best? If you’re slaving away down the gym & putting 100% in to that class then you want to make sure it's blood, sweat, & tears well spent right?

If you’re training for a certain goal such as increasing sport specific performance or training a particular part of the body then yes there are strict guidelines to follow. But if you want to stay healthy, fit, & get the whole range of benefits associated with fitness then there is one answer……holistic training! This means training the whole body, not splitting it up & working through the muscle groups, but performing movements that involve all muscle groups.

Your body is made up of fascia, muscles, tendons, nerves, & ligaments that act over your different joints. These have grown to perform best working in sequence with each other, each supporting the next. In fact is when body parts are isolated & worked intensely that you change their movement patterns, likely exposing them to injury!

So which exercise machine will burn lots of calories, increase muscular fitness, increase heart & lung health, flexibility & motor skills? Well non on any gym floor I’ve seen. Use your own body weight or grab a medicine ball and pull off a move that involves as many joints as possible across all three planes (forwards & back, up & down, rotation). Chances are it will look pretty funky so just get a trainer to make sure its safe, but there you have it – your own beautifully efficient exercise!

Of course, examples of these already exist such as a ‘squat-press’ or a ‘lunge-twist’ which are often known as functional exercises. Make exercise interesting & try them for yourself. It is precisely these exercises that I include in Occupational Fitness’s 'Workforce Workouts' to benefit your employee’s tasks. Please contact me for a FREE taster session!

Have a great weekend


8 Apr 2011

Whistle while you work

Hi folks,

Does music help you work? Well know that it can alter our mood, upbeat music in the car may spice-up our driving, while chill out music in the sun may relax us. At times we may not even notice the music but still be influenced by its atmosphere.

There is a lack of solid evidence for this topic, most statistical data comes from music magazine surveys & guess what they say! However while digging through the HSE archives there was one paper that mentioned music played in the workplace could help with the psychosocial issues.

There are so many variables, what type of music, what type of work, volume of music, individual preferences, other noise pollution present etc. Therefore, unfortunately I cannot give any conclusive evidence. But keep reading as here are some bits I did find:

1) To boost concentration at work, a steady beat & light melodies are recommended.

2) A person's ability to recognize images, letters & numbers, is quicker when either rock or classical music is playing in the background (from a report in the journal Neuroscience of Behaviour and Physiology).

3) If you are aiming to be more productive through being more relaxed, then upbeat music can reduce stress hormone levels by as much as 41% in a group tested.

My personal recommendations are that background upbeat music can raise productivity of a manual workforce doing a low-risk task if all workers give their consent. Also if you are a solitary worker then listening to a radio station may not only act as physical stimulus but as a social connection to the ‘outside world’.

Why not analyse your workforce’s demographics & tasks to see if music may raise moral & productivity in your company? Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.

Enjoy the good weather this weekend!


1 Apr 2011

Cholesterol - What is it?

Hi folks,

We’ve all heard of it & we all know we should keep it low right, but what exactly is it? Here is my quick guide:

  1. Cholesterol is mainly made in your liver from the ‘bad fats’ (saturated) you may have eaten.

  1. Our body needs a little cholesterol for our cells to function, but too much & we are at risk from heart & circulatory diseases.

  1. Good cholesterol (High Density Lipoproteins) carry any surplus ‘bad fat’ out of the bloodstream & back to the liver. (aim for >1mmol/l)

  1. Bad cholesterol (Low Density Lipoproteins) carry ‘bad fats’ through the blood stream to the cells – too much of this & it gets deposited on the artery walls (aim for <2mmol/l).

  1. Triglycerides mainly produced in the body from eating unhealthily are also a fatty substance like LDL cholesterol that needs to be kept low (<1.7mmol/l).

  1. Cholesterol is checked by taking a very small blood sample from a finger prick. You can have this done at your doctors, most chemists, & maybe your occupational health dept at work.

  1. We can improve the balance of our cholesterol by eating foods high in soluble fibre (porridge, beans & pulses, fruit & veg) & taking regular moderate exercise.

Hope this clears things up a little & helps you adjust your lifestyle / that of your workforce accordingly if needed. If you would like to know more please visit www.bhf.org.uk