20 Dec 2012

"Step in to Christmas"

“Step in to Christmas”

Hi folks,

It’s almost time… Are you ready to tuck in to a marathon of succulent meats, crispy roasties & rich chocolates because I sure am! It might not be the most nutritionally healthy season but it’s the perfect time to switch off from work & re-charge our batteries.

Many people enjoy a walk on Christmas day / Boxing day & this is a great idea. It not only gets us out the house & some fresh air but the walking movement helps massage our gut to help all that food digest better. So even if its just a walk out to test out the dogs new novelty coat, 30min later you’ll be refreshed & raring to rejoin the festivities.

Why not organise a Xmas walk at work? Let's face it, everyone’s mind is on the holidays right now so how about getting everyone in the office out of the office in the final afternoon. Head out on a long walk around the nearest bit of countryside, landmark etc then finish off at a pub for a swift half? People will instantly start to de-stress by chatting to each other about their Xmas plans (instead of work) that they won’t even realise that they are actively fighting a sedentary lifestyle, raising moral & getting some fresh air in the process!

Eat well, unwind & keep moving,

Have a great Christmas!


13 Dec 2012

A Workplace Health Must!

Hi folks,

Calling all health professionals & HR managers! Get yourself booked on to the next Health & Wellbeing @ Work conference in March 2013 at the NEC. Ive been for the last 3 years & its a great couple of days. It has a trade exhibition with lots of demo's & free advice from like minded companies. However by far the best things are the wide range of seminars by top industry speakers.

Everyone there has the same common goals so it's really easy to mix & network. Every year I have some really interesting conversations with other attendees as well as the speakers at the end of each session. It's a place where real  progression is born & as you might be able to tell, I'm already excited about it!

We're constantly trying to boost the moral & performance of others but what about ours? Who looks after us? So if you want to re-ignite your passion for workplace health, be truly inspired, & come away with lots of ideas that you just can't wait to put to work, then book in now!

see you there,


7 Dec 2012

Fruit Isn't the Quick Fix!

Hi folks,

I recently took part in a 2-day school's event to raise awareness of what a healthy lifestyle consists of. All the participants where very keen & enthusiastic but it seemed that their understanding of a healthy diet was just fruit, fruit & more fruit! Lean forms of protein, vegetables, wholegrains & good fats where berely mentioned by any of the groups which I found quite worrying.

As we know fruit is an important part of a balanced diet & a great snack of which we should aim for about 4-5 portions per day. It contains fibre & lots of antioxidants but too much and the sugar that it also contains may contribute to tooth decay & higher blood sugar levels.

So where did all of these participants get this perception from? Hopefully their teachers taught them about the importance of a varied diet, so maybe it's down to the parents. With everyone's busy lifestyles these days does a 'healthy' meal / packed lunch box just involve a token piece of fruit being tossed in because its quick & convenient? - I can imagine in many cases yes!

This view that fruit = a healthy diet is also prominent among adults. It is the first list of foods we give when asked to describe one. We don't want to stop people eating fruit, but to get everyone eating more of the other healthy food groups too. Realistcally most people won't be pro-active on this at home so one of the best ways to do this is to engage them whilst in the workplace. This will benefit their workplace health & performance, sense of investment from their employer & the health perceptions of their families.

i.e. The corporate world has the potential power (& self interest) to change the health of society through workplace education. 


22 Nov 2012

Could We have the Worlds Best Diet?

Hi folks,

Could our little country stand above other world leaders, as in so many times before, by adopting the healthiest diet possible? before i get too patriotic I'll explain: The other day I was putting some work together on nutrition for a client company of mine when I realised that here in the UK we have a fantastic opportunity to have a world-beating healthy diet!

What is the best type of diet? - The Mediterranean diet right! Well yes all the fresh fruit & veg, oily fish & olive oils are extremely good for us, but their traditionally fatty (& sometimes salted) meats, large amounts of wine & cheeses can all be big contributors to obesity, cardiac problems, & cancers. Maybe it's not the best diet after all.

Recently an American chef said that here in the UK we have unrivalled access to the range of world foods. Thinking about it, our temperate climate gives us fertile soils to grow a wide range of home produce, whilst our European neighbours can throw over many foods that we can't grow. We have some of the very latest technological farming methods to produce nutrient-rich foods that reach us in optimum condition. Plus as an island we can catch fish such as mackerel (one of the healthiest fish) from the hugely abundant supplies just off our own shores. We really are in prime position!

Problem is, recent surveys show that the typical UK citizen consumes too much sugar, slightly too much saturated fat, & not quite enough fruit & veg. Actually we're not too far away, most of us eat lean meat & wholegrain foods which are a good start, we just need to add oily fish & lots more fruit & veg to our shopping lists. Thing is, everyone knows what's healthy & what's not but how do we get the majority to 'Just Do It!'?


16 Nov 2012

One for You HR Managers:

Hi folks,

Normally I go on about exercise & nutrition, but the social side of the workplace is a really important part of any well-being program too. A work Xmas party can act as a huge boost to workplace moral or be a regretful flop! So how do we get it right?

Here's a few ideas:
  • Book a trendy venue for a fresh environment (definitely not at your workplace!)
  • Advertise it well (and with plenty of notice) so that people save the date.
  • Organise a free event such as meal / buffet or raffle to draw people there
  • 'Play to the mass'es' - Book entertainment with a proven track-record for being popular
  • Invite employee's partners (boosts company 'family' image & helps prevent anyone 'snogging the boss' etc)
  • A smart / casual dress code is best. Fancy dress or dinner suits are great but many people will be put off at the expense / effort involved.

A great hassle-free way of getting this sorted is to reserve a table(s) at a 'package doo' organised by a good local hotel or restraunt. If it goes badly people will be put off any work related social activities forever! But... if it goes down a storm then you'll have renewed fame in your department & be responsible for the huge boost in workplace moral!

No pressure then,


9 Nov 2012

How to make a Successful Well-being Program:

Hi folks,

I came across a really interesting question recently: "How 'well' do workers need to be for their well-being program to be named as successful?" Should they reach a certain standard in their health checks? Consider themselves totally stress free?

Wouldn't it be great if our companies were full of athletes & superhuman workers! This would undoubtedly give us optimum performance, reduced absenteeism & a good return on investment, all elements that the boardroom judge a well-being program by. Unfortunately this is not always realistic, many workers are hard to engage (usually the ones that really need to be) & even those that are, may not be committed. After all "you can lead a horse to water but..."

Perhaps the focus should really be on those that are in fact hard to engage, as their yellow-flag psychosocial characteristics may be acting as a drag on the company. We should maybe ask why they are hard to engage? What's happened to them between joining the company & now that's changed their attitude? What health measures would they like to see in a well-being program?

In my view the most successful well-being program does not need everyone to be in great health. It should involve the people responsible for the program to really know the demographics of their workforce together with how to use their particular workforce-culture to their advantage, only then are they in the best possible position. It should be judged by the quality of resources & the range of engagement methods used, the absenteeism stats & ROI will then look after themselves.

Let me know your thoughts


1 Nov 2012

2-Way Approach to Reducing Stress!

Hi folks,

I have recently been approached by a company to put some stress management workshops together. As a physical health trainer I immediately thought that this was not my area of expertise, however when looking in to it I realised that much of the work that I already do is very relevant to reducing stress.

So lets start by thinking of how to de-stress ourselves, well this is pretty much anything that we enjoy doing (releasing endorphins) or that relaxes us such as...

  • Socialising
  • Laughing
  • Singing (whether we're good or not)
  • Exercise (at any intensity)
  • Dancing
  • Treatments such as massage
  • Sleeping

I'm sure we'd all like to fit all of these into our lifestyle but unfortunately many of us are under pressure & don't have the time. So lets look at how to reduce stress building up in the first place by highlighting likely causes...

  • Bad communication between people (home & work)
  • Unreasonable work load / time frame
  • Lack of equipment of training for the task
  • Lack of control in your job (both physical & decision making)
  • Poor diet (mood, energy, & concentration levels)
  • Lack of sleep /rest
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Postural / muscle tension

If we firstly address any causes of stress (list 2), then we will need to implement fewer stress-busting measures (list 1), making our lives a little simpler & less cluttered = an overall less-stressed you!

Ah - I feel better already!


25 Oct 2012

Healthy Food made Easy!

Hi folks,

Great news yesterday – the government are standardising the nutrition information on across all foods! Currently those of us that try to keep an eye on our health are made to scrutinise the packet of each different food manufacturer to decipher if 20g of sugar is per 100g or per serving (which could be any amount) & whether that’s high or low. Some don’t even distinguish between the good fats & bad fats or starchy carbs & sugar carbs. Although the original introduction of food labelling was a positive step, it really needs making less confusing for the shopper.

Adopting this new food labelling system is voluntary for manufactures, to make it compulsory all European countries would have to agree & that would take forever. However today talks are going on & the government has faith that our food industry will take responsibility & use this proposed system. Due to commence in the summer of 2013, it will be a lot easier to be healthy. One type of nutrition label across all foods will make it easier to quantify actually what we eat, how much we eat, & to compare between brands.

The new labelling will look like this….

It uses the traffic-light colour system for those who just want a quick glance, & also shows the finer details for those of us who want a more in-depth approach.

Bringing this concept in to an occupational setting, could our companies benefit themselves & their workforce by clearly displaying similar information?  What about green, orange & red sections to the canteen or even green, orange & red coloured vending machines dotted around so that people are clear on what they’re buying?

Hopefully this will kick-start a healthy 2013!


18 Oct 2012

Hot Debate on Workplace Posture!

Hi Folks,

Just having a really interesting debate on LinkedIn at the moment that you will probably be really interested in (as you read my blogs). It's on the age-old topic of the best posture to adopt in whilst in the workplace. With experts from many different organisations it's really interesting & is sparking new ways of thinking. Have your say & many of your questions answered - join the debate here 

see you on LinkedIn!


11 Oct 2012

Blast of Berries Boosts Workforce

Hi folks,

If you read my blogs regularly you'll know that I'm always preaching about the effects of food on our bodies, couple this with my passion for improving workforce health & this brings us to this weeks topic. Channel 4's Food Hospital epsode last night revealed the valuable affects of a blueberry smoothy on a company's workforce over a 2 week period.

In the first week the workforce drank a bannna smoothie each day & then later completed a series of specific mental tests (similar to brain training exercises). In the second week the banana was replaced with blueberry smoothie proceeded by the same tests. The results signifacantly increased after taking the blueberry drink & the company CEO said that communication between the workers doubled!

With this easily accessible low-cost measure showing such massive results, i'snt this exciting news for any business? As with beetroot in the previous week, it really just highlights the potential power of nutrition & how they can benefit foward-thinking companies.



5 Oct 2012

Useful info on How to Combat Fatigue

Hi Folks,

Would you say you suffer from workplace fatigue? Probably all of us would say we have at some point right. So what exactly is is? Here's a definition from a research paper that Ive been studying ('Definition of Human Fatigue' by Martin Moore-Ede published in Circadian): ...A loss of physiological and psychological function as a result of extended wakefulness, heavy work, excessive stimulation, illness or stress...

My further research reveals that There are two major factors on how likely you are to become fatigued,
A) How much your 24hr routine differs from your circadian rhythms (body clock) &
B) How resilient you as a person are to the stresses this my cause.

Regardless of the type of person you are or your job, anyone can suffer from fatigue which can obviously have a huge negative affect on your company & personal well-being. To Combat this Occupational Fitness has put together a fatigue-busting course of workshops that are educational as well as practical, they address elements in the very definition of fatigue:

1) Sleep Quality Management
2) Reducing Postural Tension
3) Reducing Repetitive Strain Injuries
4) Nutrition advice - helping you fight everything from the sniffles to cancers!
5) Stress Management Techniques

If you have any questions about fatigue, information to share, or if you're interested in my course workshops the please contact me via Occupational Fitness Ltd.



28 Sept 2012

How to Exercise for a Better Work Performance

Hi folks,

With exercise busting stress, improving concentration levels, & improving sleep patterns etc, working-out to complement your career really is a no-brainer! Lots of people don't feel they have the time but just the work-related benefits from 30min of exercise several times a week can hugely out-weigh the time invested. Many people do exercise before or after work which is fantastic but it can be confusing & without dedicated professional guidance then they may actually be doing themselves harm & negatively affecting their jobs. (I treat many massage clients with such muscular-skeletal problems every week!)

Here's the solution: Get a professional trainer to physically analyse your job role (active or desk-based). By looking at your movement patterns they can break these down into specific exercises that work the associated muscles through their full range of movement whilst also addressing any muscle imbalances. This innovative method is invaluable because:

1) It improves your work efficiency
2) It improves your work endurance
3) It hugely decreases your chance of becoming injured / absence
4) It educates you so that you're more body-aware
5) It raises your focus & concentration levels
6) It helps you sleep better
7) It makes you feel good!

Yep you guessed it, we specialise at this here at Occupational Fitness. Whether on a one-to-one basis or an on-site group workout, we have the expertise to maximise your work performance. Take a look at our Workforce Workouts for more info.



13 Sept 2012

Do National **** Days really work?

Hi Folks,

You may have seen the national ‘Stop Smoking campaigns’ advertised recently on TV or the ‘National Health Day’ proposed in a national newspaper, but are these National ‘prompts’ actually effective?

In my experience, these events are poorly advertised & that no-one really knows they exist until it’s mentioned at the end of that morning’s news or some-one mentions it on passing in the office. By then it too late as we’re already chomping on a bacon butty or lit up our 3rd fag of the day so it becomes a bit of a mockery.

As a personal trainer I can say that we are significantly more likely to succeed in reaching a goal if we:

A)    Have a time frame (strict designated start date & review dates)
B)    That goal is specific (“I want to eat more veg” instead of “I want to eat more healthy)
C)    You can measure it (track your progress using portions, inches, kg, frequency etc)
D)    It’s realistic (your not being overly adventurous)
E)     Address our state of mind (do we actually want to do it or are we being told we have to!)

Points A & E are where National campaigns are really helpful, they have a start date set in stone & they get lots of people addressing a common goal together which alone gives the majority of us a boost in will power.

Next time you run a workplace health kick, advertise it well in advance & use the 5 points above. I practically guarantee it will make your goal easier to achieve & therefore lead to better results for individuals, you & ultimately your company!

If you need any help putting a workplace health incentive together then please contact me.



6 Sept 2012

How much Good Fat do you have?

Hi folks,

You may not know but fat has many roles (no pun intended), it is a store of excess energy, it is a form of protection from impact, it generates heat etc... .  Although too much body fat makes us more prone to serious health problems, there is a type of fat that is actually good for us - Brown adipose fat!

Our bodies had most brown fat when we were babies & children, it helped us survive if left in the cold by burning calories to generate substantial amounts of heat. Unfortunately the amount of brown fat we have decreases as we reach adulthood, but scientists are studying how we can stimulate the few reserves that we have left for our advantage. Brown fat is found to generate most heat when we exercise, eat & are exposed to cold temperatures, so could we use this information to fight obesity?

If we do find novel ways to make our brown fat more active then this may burn more calories from white fat but we would be constantly hot & switching on the air-con. We may find 'agents' that trigger our brown fat but they have concerns of toxicity which is obviously not good. It is known that certain foods initiate heat production within brown fat so one safe area of research is to learn more about which foods these are and their further effects on the body. Could the recent nutrition labels on food packaging be joined by a heat generating index or 'thermal rating'?

As with last weeks blog on wheat prices, this type of information could be very useful in workplace health / 'Canteens of the Futuuuuure'!


31 Aug 2012

Wheat Price Rise may have Healthy Impact for You & Your Workforce!

Hi folks,

The cost of alcohol, cereals, pasta, bread & anything else that involves wheat may increase in the near future as wheat supplies become dwindled. Due to the weather this year, agriculturists are predicating a poor wheat yield.

We know wheat as a healthy complex (starchy) carbohydrate that digests slowly to release energy. Many people who are over a healthy weight consume too much of these wheat based foods, their body cannot store anymore as glycogen & is then stored as excess body-fat.

The question is, how severe will this predicted wheat shortage be & will the resulting rise in shelf price be enough to make people cut down? People may opt for soups or salads instead of sandwiches, replace Wheetabix with porridge, pasta with quinoa, all consequently reducing body-fat.

As mentioned in previous blogs, your workforce canteen has a very powerful role to play. What they put on the menu (& its specific ingredients) has a massive affect on the health of your company & the personal health of hundreds. I have just come back from providing health support for a client company & their head cook openly admitted that they're afraid of what a health check would find because they have a very unhealthy lifestyle. This is worrying coming from someone who controls what hundreds of people eat every day. Hopefully one day every canteen (inlc those in schools) should have the input from a nutritionist.

Whilst I launch a 'Jamie Oliver style' campaign tell me what your view is on the forecast wheat shortage, would you alter your shopping list accordingly?


24 Aug 2012

Are Oils in Food Good or Bad?

Hi folks,

This can be pretty confusing; we are told that frying & roasting are bad for us but that some oils can be good for us. All oils are fats so which ones do we use?

Cooking with oils:
Coconut oil, palm oil, & peanut oil are all examples of fats high in saturates. These are hard for our bodies to break down & so too much will get stored as body fat. However, the high levels of saturates cause these oils to have a higher resistance to heat, delaying their breakdown into free radicals (atoms that can have an oxidative effect on our body & can cause cell damage / disease). Intense exercise can also increase free radical levels so if you also have a healthy balanced nutrition (with lots of anti-oxidants) then a little extra saturated fat is probably the lesser of two evils.

Oils as dressings:
Rapeseed oil, olive oil & other oils low in saturated fat will have a higher ratio of monounsaturated & poly unsaturated fats. These are no good for heating but very healthy cold pressed. They contain vital nutrients such as the Omega’s which help maintain our immune system, brain health, blood clotting, eye sight & many other important functions. Try to use these oils as a light dressing on foods instead of a sauce.

In the workplace: If your company operates a staff canteen then a small investigation into the cooking methods of the regular dishes has the potential to have a huge positive affect across your workforce!

So in conclusion we could have an oil that’s moderate / high in saturates for heating, & an oil low in saturates for dressings. If in doubt then olive oil is a good all-rounder.

Hope this helps,


17 Aug 2012

Chocolate health benefits

Hi folks,

Yep, the stuff we all love can be healthy – well the dark variety anyway. More research this week says that dark chocolate can lower our blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most common health conditions in the UK & can lead to many other serious illnesses.

The main ingredients of chocolate are sugar, cocoa butter (fat) & cocoa mass. White chocolate is the most unhealthy as it has a higher ratio of sugar & fat whilst the dark chocolate is healthier with a higher ratio of cocoa mass (with milk chocolate being somewhere in the middle). High levels of cocoa give you more flavanols producing nitric oxide in the body which then causes blood vessel walls to ‘relax’, allowing your blood to pass through at lower pressure.

The problem is that some manufactures remove the flavanols as they have a bitter taste. So now this ‘dark chocolate’ is just dark in colour & doesn’t carry the health benefits. My advice is to always buy good quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 80% or higher, also check out the ingredients & any labels saying ‘high in flavanols or antioxidants’.

Employers: As stress is a key factor raising blood pressure, how about giving out a few healthy dark chocolate bars in the canteen one day or at their desks to raise moral to a valued workforce?

If you want to further boost your levels of flavanols then try mixed beans, apricots, blackberries & good old apples!


10 Aug 2012

Exercise feel like a chore?

Hi folks,

Ever wonder if your exercise training sessions are making any difference?  Well, firstly ask yourself if your routine is challenging, then secondly if you’re giving it your all. Even if the answer is “Yes” to both of these, sometimes the hours spent at the gym feel like hard slog, so here’s a bit of psychology that you may help keep you going:

An Olympian recently said in an interview on TV that “every training session counts”. Imagine that each single training session counts for 2% progress, so if you train 3x per week for two months then that’s over a 25% progression right? – Wow! You will be able to mentally feel & physically see how your hard work has paid off.  At this point in time you will need to modify your exercise session in order to keep progression going.

So next time your about to miss a training session remember - the ones when you feel really strong, the rushed mid-week ones, & the ones when you just feel weak… EVERY TRAINING SESSION COUNTS!



5 Aug 2012

An Olympic opportunity to boost Staff Engagement

Hi folks,

Talking about the latest medal winners at work? Switching the TV on as soon as you get in? Feeling proud to be British?....yep you've got Olympic fever too! London 2012 has lifted our spirits & got as all enthused. Even those people who normally don't care about sport, exercises or health are following it just as avidly as the rest of us & we can use this to benefit workplace health. It well known that when Wimbledon returns every year we all want to go & smash a few tennis balls, when Wiggo won the Tour De France we all felt like jumping on our bikes, so lets capitalise on this major international opportunity & entice those employees that most need it into a healthy lifestyle!

Having a corporate sports day or running company sports teams is fantastic news for those who are already active & will therefore put-off those who know they are unhealthy. A better approach may be to choose sports or games that aren't so stereotyped such as an assault course, tug-of-war, salsa or Zumba dance class, table tennis, & some of the ones that we did at school such as ‘stuck in the mud’. Yes some may childish but that’s why they're a good laugh, physical but not exhaustive & no-one will specialise in them, you could even have a Wii / X-box connect competition mid morning / afternoon & a free 'healthy banquet' for the winners! Separate men’s & women’s teams may be a good idea depending on your workforce dynamics; women are generally put-off by us sweaty grunting guys. 

At the end of your company Olympics day / week, you will have had an element of team building, had a massive laugh, but most importantly managed to reach those who are hardest to engage whilst they are in the mood, possibly starting a lifestyle change. The Olympics’ strap-line of inspiring a generation can apply to all generations!

C'mon Great Britain!!!!!!


26 Jul 2012

Scarey Health Checks!

Hi folks,

What are your first impressions of health checks? Over the past few weeks I have been offering an 'open health clinic' with a new client company. Part of this service is a comprehensive health check including blood pressure, body fat %, body-water content, muscle content, bone weight, etc but many people steer clear as they seem scared of what these tests will reveal! Most of the people that are interested in such tests are those that are generally healthy & already make an effort to improve, however as we know these are not the people we need to reach.

As mentioned in previous posts, health checks shouldn't be the focal point of a health / wellness program as the test results are a 'snap-shot' & can be affected by an extra cup of coffee that day or 'white coat' syndrome. They only tell us when things have already gone wrong (e.g. high blood pressure) when what's really needed are workshops on how to prevent the on-set of poor health.

No-one likes bad news so if people know that they're unhealthy they won't want to get that confirmed or that they do actually have something to be concerned about (ignorance is bliss right?). So to try to attract those people who would most benefit from a health clinic / workshop, my adverts are now going to say "got any questions about your nutrition?" or "Advice on the right exercise for you". This more inclusive & informal approach should appeal to more people & I'm still able to offer the health tests to those who want them.

Let me know your thoughts on this & how this goes down in your workplace or gym.



12 Jul 2012

Prevent Osteoarthritis in Your Workforce!

Hi folks,

A recent survey has revealed that only 1 in 5 people said that they warm-up & cool down properly when doing activity. There is evidence to suggest that the remaining 4 people therefore have a higher risk of developing joint problems in the future.

By doing mobilisation exercises as part of a warm-up to any activity, it not only keeps your muscles supple but simulates the release of synovial fluid (natural lubricant) in to your joints, some of which is absorbed by your cartilage. The whole joint structure is then better prepared to cope with the pressures of movement or being sedentary. But don’t just take my word for it…

Dr Helena Johnson, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy chairwoman, said: "Doing some exercise every day helps keep joints supple and muscles healthy. Simple warm-up exercises increase the blood flow to the muscles and make them more mobile. Cooling down after exercise is also important as it can help to prevent next day stiffness. Pain, during or after exercise, is a signal that your body may be having problems, and it shouldn't be ignored.” (source: FIA & UK Press Association)

Of course the risks of not warming up & cooling down when doing vigorous exercise is higher but whether your workforce carries out active roles or sedentary ones, maintaining their muscular-skeletal health has a significant affect on their performance.

As it happens I am working with a new company this week that value this message. They have asked me to go in for a brief period at the start of each day to guide their workforce through 5mins of mild stretches & gentle exercises (e.g. shoulder rolls etc) with the view to continue it internally but with my support. Please visit www.occupational-fitness.com or contact me if you too would like to safeguard your workforce’s health & performance.



7 Jul 2012

Child malnutrition – how will it affect your company’s future?

Hi folks,

Again, something topical in the news this past week, apparently 1 in 4 children are going to school with out food (down to family financial troubles). This may be that they’ve had no breakfast or that they will have to go without any dinner, quite shocking by today’s standards!

Immediate danger: obviously that child is going to have no fuel for the day so their concentration, alertness, attention spans, & depth of ability are all going to be affected. Physically their energy levels, growth & repair, & hormones will also be in jeopardy.

Mid-term danger: If the body doesn’t have the correct nutrition at certain times of the day then this is when we get cravings for high sugar, salt, & saturated fat snacks (crisps, chocolate, buns, burgers etc). This often then becomes habit & before we know it we have an unhealthy diet. Could this happen with the kids in question? – YEP! So this means that all the ‘immediate dangers’ above could be happening over a long period of time & as a result that child / student may under perform, ultimately coming away with lower grades & health issues.

Long term: Okay so that child, now a young adult of working age comes to work for your company. As you can see the food habits & lifestyle that they have adopted from no original fault of their own, are going to affect their performance for your company!

Solutions? I know this is a long view of the situation & as a company it’s hard to do anything about it, but look around you & ask ‘How much does a person’s upbringing affect their lifestyle today?’ On idea may be to offer a food-bank or supplement service to the families of your employees, or maybe to a local school. The benefits from the positive media coverage of this alone would probably make it worthwhile!


28 Jun 2012

Obesity in the Workplace

Hi folks,

A topic in the media this week was obesity in the workplace, and as it’s a bit controversial it thought it may be fun to tackle it! So, is being obese at work a disadvantage?

Let’s discuss the mental side first. If someone is overweight this can often send out certain messages, common conceptions, presumptions and strongly affect first impressions. These might be poor health, low energy levels, low confidence / self-esteem, lack of determination or control – right or wrong these are not really traits that an employer would look for in a successful employee. Some of these might not necessarily be true & that person may be just as capable as the next person but physical appearances are very powerful in today’s society. It should also be mentioned that many people find it harder to control their weight due to certain medical conditions.

Right then, the physical side. This all depends on the physical demands of the job linked with health and safety. We employ someone on their suitability to do a job so if they can’t do that job well (for whatever reason) then someone else may be better suited. On the flip-side, if the job role isn’t going to be affected by their physical capabilities or related affects then yes, that person should be an equal contender for the job / promotion.

Whether someone is happy to be obese or not, ultimately it is related to excess calorie consumption which they control. A person’s size is a fact about them & so shouldn’t it hold the same weight (pardon the pun) as any other facts such as their qualifications or experience? From reading this blog back, it seems like I’m fat’ist, but I have nothing against obese people at all, I’m just trying to clarify the topic. With obesity on the rise many people aren’t taking responsibility for themselves and from all views it has needlessly become a taboo subject in workplace politics.

With the risk of hate-mail, I’d be very interested on your opinions.


21 Jun 2012

Neck pain! Work-related or Work-relevant?

Hi folks,

Through my experience neck tension is one of the most common complaints in the workplace. Do you get that hunched tight feeling too? Most of us blame our jobs for it, the posture we're in whilst working, coupled with the build up of stress. Some jobs may directly lend themselves to cause such neck pain / tension (work related pain) but many may just be a trigger. By this I mean that the actual tension could be building up from other elements of our lifestyle but because we experience the on-set at work, we blame work (work-relevant pain).

So lets take a look at what the possible causes could be:

1. Your commute? do you have a stressful journey? are you in a head-down position using mobile technology?

2. Your sleeping position? many of us sleep on our sides so be sure to have at least 2 plump pillows to keep your neck in line with your spine. All other positions only really require 1.

3. Your hobbies / activities? Musicians, cyclists, golfers & in-fact any activity where we are dominant with once side or have to maintain a poor posture. 

4. Emotional stress? Arguements at home, financial worries, family fallouts, kids driving you mad, moving house? Many of us store this type of stress physically in our mid / upper back region.

5. 'Forward hand' activities? Research shows that neck tension is likely caused by tension in your upper back muscles working to hold your hands forwards. The longer & the further away from our body the hands work, the more tension can build up. Yes, this is pretty much everything we do! One way to ease this is by supporting the elbow / forearm at natural (waist) height.

In summary, if you suffer from neck tension then address your working posture but also address your activities outside of work. However the most effective way of releasing this tension is through one of my massages!



14 Jun 2012

NEW Tension Release service!!

Hi folks,

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the benefits of massage, so much so that I run Hull's premier massage service. Today we have launched our new website:

If you're new to massage or already have regular treatments, explore our video's & testimonials to see exactly how we can help both you & your workforce increase performance whilst preventing injury. 

Thanks & your feedback is most welcome!


8 Jun 2012

Healthily British

Hi folks,

Well, the most 'British' week I've ever witnessed is almost over, did you get in to the spirit of things? I thought that the Jubilee may just involve a few tacky Union hats & maybe some cake stalls in village halls but i was drastically wrong. I think it really hit home when i saw the coverage of the Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace & the amount of effort people had made around the country. The British public seemed to ooze relentless enthusiasm from start to finish & there was a great atmosphere. This got me thinking, for normally such a cynical lot, what was it that made us have that 'one big family' feel, & furthermore what huge health benefits would it bring if we could create this in the workplace?

1. We are all members of a world famous club - We are British! Just like any other club (football supporters, mother & baby club, running club) a sense of belonging gives us confidence. If your company represents something to be proud of then get the workforce enthused / engaged by it!

2. Us Brits all have similar lifestyles, values & priorities which gives us something in common. This is fantastic for breaking down barriers to increase social interaction / communication (a crowd of 1000's of strangers became 1 tribe). Why not look at the dynamics of your workforce or run social events, they all have something in common - they work for your company!

3. Why we're most people so happy? because they got something of value ....an extra day off! This means a lot to people as time is the most valuable gift to most people as they can spend it how they wish. But as an employer, a day off may be costly, what about giving something that has no cost to you but huge value to your workforce? e.g canteen vouchers, high street vouchers from you corporate links / benefit schemes, charity activities.

So whats the benefit of creating a company 'family feel'? Well it just so happens that this ticks all the psychosocial boxes found by the latest research studies to be absolutely vital for good workforce health.  Plus besides the subsequent health benefits, they are more likely to work harder for you! Wouldn't you 'go that extra mile' for you're family?

Now go out in the rain & wave that Union Jack!


1 Jun 2012

Is mobile technology reversing human evolution?

Hi folks,

How amazing is mobile technology these days? You can check emails on-the-go, have a video meeting with people even though you’re on different streets around the world, or even navigate your way through a busy city by linking up with a satellite!

Do you have a tablet (e.g. iPad)? If not I know we all have mobile phones that can do most of these tasks. As well as being great for social reasons, this technology has become really useful in the business environment, it means that we can be really efficient & get work done without being tied to the desk. Mobile technology has transformed many workplaces but have you realized the down-side?

As we no longer need to be desk-based to complete much of our work, this is a great step towards fighting the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. However, next time you’re walking down the street, on a train, in a meeting, or stuck in a traffic jam, take a look around & most people will be head-down using their own piece of mobile technology. Isn’t this the type of posture that we have at our desks - rounded shoulders & forward –head posture, & hunched over like a caveman?

With us now potentially spending more & more time in a poor posture with our spine out of neutral alignment, the health implications become higher risk. If we do need computers to do our job then a mix of the two may be best practice:

1)      Going back to a desk-top style computer is the best option in the workplace (although being seated this allows you to have the screen higher than the keyboard – unlike laptops).

2)      Get out & about as much as you can using a tablet to work on (although bad for upper-body posture, the lower body is moving which can fight many of the sedentary risks).

So where do laptops fit in? Well at the minute they are ergonomically the worst piece of mobile technology to use. BUT if you can get your hands on a model that has the ability to raise the screen up away from the keyboard then that’s probably the ultimate option! Does anyone know if a laptop like this exists?

Have a think about the demands of your job & which is the most ‘posturally healthy’ kit or combination you can use. If you are an employer, think about what technology is already being used & could it be affecting your workforce health?



24 May 2012

6 Good reasons to be at work on a sunny day!

Hi folks,

With pretty much all the country having glorious sunshine at the moment many of us would rather be off work. But if work sometimes feels dull, remember that being at work doesn’t just pay the bills! Whether we realise it or not, our workplace and type of job serves many other needs that we have healthy human beings:

  1. It focuses our mind on a task or tests it with multi-tasking

  1. It gives us a sense of challenge & reward (especially if we enjoy our jobs)

  1. It gives our lifestyle routine & structure

  1. It offers a change of environment(s)

  1. In most cases it provides us with a setting for social interaction, expanding our communication skills & friend-base.

  1. ..& yes, it’s even scientifically proven to have therapeutic value!

The government have realised that these points above are vital in society and have launched the ‘Fit-note’ as part of the Early return To Work scheme (replacing the sick-note). Basically, if someone is out of work due to illness, retirement, or even if they don’t financially need to work, then many of the 6 key elements start to disappear. This can ultimately lead to forms of depression, low confidence, low quality of life and poor health…..not good eh!

So next time you’re struggling at work, think if it’s ticking these 6 boxes. Similarly, if you’re out of work for whatever reason, try to involve activities in your lifestyle that equally tick the same 6 boxes.

Have an awesome weekend & get the BBQ on!


18 May 2012

Junk food tax!

Hi folks,

Great week for blogging this week! Have you heard about the potential tax to be added on unhealthy foods?

As a health professional I’m sure you’ll guess what my thoughts on this are. Being that the most powerful way to influence people’s decisions is through money, it has the potential to have a massive affect on our culture in the UK, but only IF it is done in the right way. Some may say that this is another way of the government trying to take away our free choice, but I see it more as them having a positive influence towards our health, & therefore reducing health costs for the UK.

Look at what it has done for cigarettes! Significant amounts of people have given up smoking as a result of higher prices, saving themselves & NHS millions. Those who still wish to smoke can if they are prepared to pay for it, which may indirectly go towards any associated medical treatment. Why shouldn’t junk food go the same way?

The first step may be to put the ‘fat tax’ on the worst offenders (e.g. take-always, energy drinks, sweets, pastries, alcohol etc) then consult nutritionists at the highest level over any further decisions. I have a sweet tooth & crave the chippy just like anyone else but really try to eat healthily. Now these foods may become expensive so people can only afford them every so often, however that’s exactly what they should be – A TREAT!

Even though food manufactures have become a lot more responsible recently by displaying more nutritional information on their packaging, it is still a minefield out there so this new approach may help further educate people about what they’re eating & get them to actually take it seriously. There’s so much healthy & tasty food available but due to our cultures, habits, & possibly up-bringing, many people have never experienced ‘real’ food as the major part of their diet before.

I know I am a bit bias & may only see one side of the discussion, so let me know your thoughts on how it will affect you & the people you know!



11 May 2012

Killer Commutes!

Hi folks,

I read an article this week on commuting that I thought you may be interested in. When considering workforce health we normally concentrate what goes on within the walls of our workplace & don’t look at the bigger picture. The vast majority of us commute to work and this usually involves a sedentary (often sitting) position, so the key question is how long does the commute take?

A 7yr long U.S study found that those commuting significant distances also have a tendency for low cardiovascular fitness, absence of intense exercise activity, higher body fat %, & raised blood pressure levels. Specifically, a commute of 16km+ was correlated with higher blood pressure levels. An earlier study found that for every additional hour spent in a car, the likelihood of obesity rose by 6%.

So by having a longer commute this means a longer day and therefore less time in their lifestyle to be active, eat well, recover etc. and who can blame them! Being ‘healthy’ is bound to take a back-burner when you get home after being stuck in a traffic jam or crowed bus/ train for hours, plus this will raise most people’s stress levels which will of course negatively affect their health further.

So what can we do? Maybe these pointers should be a priority:

         Commute by bike, walk or jog in if possible.
         Opt to stand on busses / trains instead of sitting
         Move jobs / house so your commute is shorter
         Be as active as you can at work to off-set travel sedentary.

These changes can make a huge difference to your health & lifestyle.  Studies show that the happiest cities in the world are also the ones with the highest rates of cycling!



4 May 2012

Be Healthy - add some Food Colour!

Be healthy - add some food colour!

Hi folks,

We all know that a healthy nutrition consists of fruit & vegetables, lean meats, some wholegrains & plenty of water right! But how many of us stick to the same fruit & veg every week? The natural chemicals that give different foods their colour also have their own health properties, so it’s time to do yourself a quick mental review & see.

Fruit & veg is so versatile that’s it doesn’t have to be boring. Grab a piece of paper & jot these foods down to form an ultra healthy & tasty shopping list:

Reds, oranges, yellows, & Purples:
These foods can all help reduce the risk of developing the main ‘killers’ in our society today; various cancers, heart disease, & strokes. Many are also bursting with antioxidants which help reduce damage to your cells.

Include these: Tomatoes, beetroot (unpickled), peppers, radishes, strawberries, watermelon, cranberries, cherries, apples. Sweet potatoes, apricots, carrots, oranges, peaches, & pineapple. Plums, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, raisins, figs, & aubergine (egg plant).

White vegetables can help also help reduce the ‘killers’ but additionally lower your blood pressure & cholesterol (HDL) levels.

Include these: Cauliflower, onions, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, ginger, turnips, & bananas.

Greens contain powerful anti-cancer properties as well as giving us lots of additional vital nutrients

Include these: Broccoli, green beans, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, kiwi fruit, avocados’ & even those sprouts!

Obviously there is a lot of food here & your shopping bill would be huge, so try to pick out several from each category that you are most likely to use. Also go for ones that are in season, are most versatile, & that you can use as snacks. Then after a while try to rotate your choices.   

If you’re interesting in a workshop on workplace nutrition then please contact me.



26 Apr 2012

Creating Energy instead of Fatigue

Hi folks,

Here’s another concept that I find interesting from the Loughborough convention that I talked about last week….. Creating energy instead of fatigue.

Lots of people want to feel better so they aim to boost their health. However being healthy includes exercise, which often involves fatiguing our muscles, but then we feel knackered right? which from one angle sounds a bit backwards.

So rather than using lots of energy pushing our bodies to the limits to feel knackered, how about using a little energy to create more energy so that we feel great? Yoga, Tia Chi, plus various forms of stretching & meditation are all designed to have this affect. That’s why they are very successful for people with medical conditions as well as people who struggle with stress. If your goal is to improve your vitality & energy levels then these type of exercises may be for you, further improved by good quality sleep, a balanced nutrition, & making time for yourself.

Those of you who do enjoy regular higher intensity exercise are probably saying “but I do feel awesome after my workout” which is great because that means you’re getting the endorphin high from it, but you’ll also be familiar with the aches that follow a hard workout too. These are your muscles hurting & rebuilding after stressing them out.

Basically, if you want to change the shape / composition of your body, cardio fitness, & strength then the higher intensity exercise is best. But if you’re happy with all this & just want to feel great while promoting your internal health, then go for the energy-creating’ forms of exercise. When considering workforce health, then the type of industry & job roles become important in deciding which form of exercise to implement.

Have a think about what’s important to you & what type / combination of exercise will suit this.



20 Apr 2012

Whats your Style?

Hi Folks,

I recently got back from THE health & fitness Industry’s annual convention held at Loughborough University. My aim is to listen to the latest material presented by the world’s top speakers, & then apply it to the workforce health in a realistic way. This year featured a lot of biomechanical sessions, teaching us how to look after our backs by developing a healthy pelvis. Hang on – isn’t this something I blogged on lastyear? (…smug face)

Many exercises to do this involved wacky tri-planar movements which were quite amusing to do but all these were simply exaggerations of what our body does (or should do) when walking.

So next you’re walking on a treadmill or walking down the corridor at work, I’d like you to think about 2 things:

  1. Notice the walking ‘style’ of others around / passing you.
  2. Be conscious of your own walking style.

By ‘style’ I mean are the feet or knees facing outwards? How far are they / you leaning forwards? Are the strides equal length? Are the shoulders rigid or swaying? What position is the head in? ……make a 5 sec assessment quick!

If biomechanically healthy then it should look even or balanced, that they move easily & all body parts are involved. If this is happening then look at their belly button (or where is would be if uncovered), it should be the point at which every thing else pivots around. This is the most important assessment.

Think of how a model walks on the catwalk, well besides crossing the feet over this is how we all should walk. But fella’s before you get too worried, let’s tone it down slightly. If everyone just lifts the ribcage up off the pelvis, eyes forward (not down at your iphone) & allows the arms to sway opposite to your stride then you’ve got it. It’s what we do naturally so let’s learn to stop inhibiting it. A sexy walk looks attractive for a reason!

More lessons from Loughborough coming soon,


12 Apr 2012

Are you built to exercise?

Hi folks,

We’ve all heard people say “I’m just not made to exercise” or “its easy for them, they’re suited to exercise” but is there actually any truth in it? You might have heard about people whose genetics make them either high or low responders to exercise. Basically this another way, this is the difference in results if two people were given the exact same exercise & nutrition plan to follow.

Aerobic exercise: According to some studies, there can be a 3 to 10-fold difference between low & high responders over a 15-20 week period.  This difference could be in the form of recovery speed, aerobic endurance, or calorie burning efficiency. On top of this, some people may be more suited to long endurance exercise & some to short sprints. Unfortunately there is no visible way of telling who is a high responder & who is a low responder, you have to undergo scientific testing.

Strength: Variations in response to weights training are well known. The potential to gain muscle size largely depends on the ratio of slow-twitch & fast-twitch muscle fiber’s the person has (i/e. a naturally taller / leaner person will find it harder to build muscle mass doing the same weights routine as someone naturally stockier). So this is a response that we can predict, just look at our body type.

Overall the messages to take away from this are:

·        Choose an exercise that you enjoy (even if you aren’t very good at it). If you enjoy it you will stick to it, which means you will get some results.

·        If you’re body type makes it harder to meet your desired goals, don’t be put-off you can still make a significant improvement!

·        If you want to excel in a sport or the gym then choose the type of exercise that suits your body / genetics, it will give you an advantage.

·        Eat well (especially lots of vegetables & lean meat)

·        Recover well & get your 7-8hrs of sleep per night

Hope this helps any body who is disheartened by exercise or gives you direction if you want to really progress.