26 Apr 2013

Blame it on the Boozy!

Hi folks,

I'm bogging about alcohol this week because after many years as a personal trainer, it still surprises me how people underestimate the effects of a cheeky tipple.

I bumped in to a lady the other day that I used to train. She always trained really hard but only got limited results so I suspected that she wasn't as committed to the nutritional side as she made out. Now she looks in the best shape ever so I asked what made the difference, yep you guessed it - she cut the alcohol down & now only drinks when on the occasional night out / special occasions (I felt like screaming 'that's what I said').

When improving body shape (& health) nutrition is the main factor. Many clients realise this & make a great effort to adjust their nutrition but the thing they often seem to ignore is that glass of wine / can of beer in the evenings. Myself & fellow personal trainers know a many more gym-goer's who will willingly address everything else except their alcohol intake. There are approx 170 calories per glass of wine, so 1 glass 5 evenings per week = 850 cal which is more than an extra 1/3rd of a days food intake!

With most of us having hectic lifestyles we tend to reach for that glass of plonk at the end of a hard days work or when in party mode. Try buying in your favourite / really special brand of alcohol to use sparingly whilst using exercise as a means to de-stress & a nice meal as a means of reward instead of booze.

Remember, the first (& most significant) steps if you want to reduce body-fat are to minimise saturated fats, salt, & sugars - including alcohol.

OH & HR managers: Could this be present in your workforce? If so work performance could also be suffering from alcohol's other affects - dehydration & poor sleep quality. Contact us for more info.



18 Apr 2013

Develop Your Own Workplace Athletes!

Hi folks,

As you regulars will know, I keep bringing you blogs on the highlights of 2013's top workplace health conferences & this weeks focuses on mobile technology.

Walking around the exhibitions I came across 4 -5 stands trying to sell me little gizmo's & gadgets that track my body throughout the day (& night in some cases). The most simple & common being pedometers, but two others caught my eye.

1) A heart rate monitor to be worn 24hrs per day over a typical 3 days & the user has to keep a diary for this period. The info is then uploaded to some software where you can see if any rises in heart rate coincide with any non-physical activities = stress.

2) This looked like small pedometer that sticks on to your skin & is worn under clothing. It uses very low electrical activity to recognise how much tension is in the muscle underneath. Some muscle tension is natural but as many of us will know, physical & mental stress can cause counter-productive amount of muscle tension.

It may be interesting to ask a company CEO or director to wear one or even both of these gadgets so they can get a personal insight in to the impact of their position. However as the HSE is now taking a wider approach to stress management, it wouldn't be practical to 'hook up' every employee & monitor them. HR managers could ask for a cross-section of volunteers but results may not represent the whole workforce as stress levels depend upon stress tolerance which is very individual to each person (even when doing the same job).

It's fantastic that this technology is available & is very interesting for personal use but is not a realistic solution for workforce health & wellbeing. A company's time & money will get a better ROI if spent on the softer measures such as nutrition & exercise incentives.

Let me know your thoughts & how these gadgets may 'go down' in your workplace.


12 Apr 2013

Obesity Culture at Home (& at Work)

Hi folks,

Just last week my home town of Hull (Kingston upon Hull if we're being posh) was in the news for having some of the highest obesity rates in the country. This doesn't surprise me as our poor city traditionally seems to get more than its fair share of bad press despite us trying to shake this off through lot of recent redevelopment & investment.

Like all cities there are the wealthier areas in the suburbs, and pockets of middle-class mixed with working-class of which I live in (without meaning to pigeon-hole people). Being a passionate health advocate, when I'm out & about I tend to notice things like a young lady the other day - walking passed the local shops, 8-pack of lager under one arm & battered jumbo sausage on fork in the other. Of course this may not have been a true reflection of her lifestyle but as she was rather overweight, it probably wasn't far off. I don't mean to be snobbish or have a pop at obese people as it's their choice, but I just want to  help create a healthier Hull.

The stereotype is that the higher rates of obesity are often in the poorer areas of society, & in my experience I'd say this is true for Hull, BUT WHY? is it because...

  • Money is tight so it is spent on the cheaper highly processed foods?
  • A poorer background may instill lower aspirations, lower motivation levels?
  • This in turn goes hand in hand with lack of understanding / awareness food & drink.
  • A depressing / drab physical environment as streets & housing are often in need of maintenance.
*HR / OH managers: does your workplace display similar elements?

All these factors contribute to one key element - an underlying lack of self worth / confidence. So what are we doing to turn this around? Well supermarkets have recently started highlighting special offers on fruit, veg & fresh meat, Schools are now doing a great job of promoting the wide range of career opportunities & healthy lifestyle education, the government is advertising it's healthy eating campaign, & the local council is progressively updating street life.

So with a bigger push, it looks like Hull's bad reputation may be short-lived!


4 Apr 2013

Latest Exercise Guidelines for your Workforce

Hi folks,

Exercise is great for increasing self value, self belief & moral, for moderating stress hormones, & for decreasing anxiety, depression, confusion & fatigue BUT research shows that 60% men & 70% women are under active (80% of us overestimate how active we actually are!) It's hard to know what's right when we're constantly being bombarded with new exercise fads, fancy machines, scientific techniques & equipment so just trust 2 things:

 1) If its realistic, makes sense & makes you breathless,
 2) The latest exercise guidelines (below) for the Health & Well-being @ Work conference:

Traditionally it had been recommended that we do 30min of moderate exercise 5 times per week but this has now been reviewed. New guidelines still say to total 150 min of exercise per week, but make 30-60min (30min for beginners & up to 60min if you're pretty fit) of this an exercise of vigorous intensity, & repeat it 3-4x per week.

So in summary the main difference is that instead of more frequent light- moderate exercise, we actually get better benefits from fewer workouts but of slightly higher intensity. 

Better results in less time sounds good to me!!! To translate this in to workplace health activities then please contact me.