Top 10 tips: Improve health and wellbeing in your workplace

Many of us think of our health in terms of weight and whilst a healthy lifestyle can certainly help manage your weight, the benefits extend well beyond your appearance.  It can also promote your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even some types of cancer.

All of us our bombarded with a multitude of different health message from the media, Government, our employers, advertisers and our own friends and family. However, when it comes to good health, there is no big secret.  Here are 10 top tips from the Healthy Performance team that you can implement today to improve the health and wellbeing of your employees:

1. Check your weight

Almost 3 in 10 women and 4 in 10 men in England are overweight. More people are dying in Britain due to being overweight or obese than anywhere else in Europe. Around one in every 11 deaths in the UK is now linked to carrying excess fat. Check your weight regularly.  A Healthy Performance health check will tell your employees if they’re a healthy weight, what their body fat percentage is and whether they’re at risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. If they need to bring their weight down, our healthcare assessors will give your staff actionable advice that they can implement immediately.

2. Drink less

Many employees are unaware that regularly drinking more alcohol than the recommended guidelines can lead to a wide range of long-term health problems, including cancers, strokes, and heart attacks. For example, men who regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day are 3 times more likely to have a stroke. Employees can calculate their drinking levels by using the Drink Aware Unit and Calorie Counter, plus they can find out where to get help.

3. Exercise regularly

There is a miracle cure we’ve all been waiting for.  It will reduce your employee’s risk of major illnesses by up to 50% and lower their risk of early death by up to 30%.  What’s more is that it is free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. Its name?

Exercise.

The benefits of exercise aren’t limited to weight loss. Even if you’re slim, you’ll still get health benefits from exercising.  Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Eat your 5 A DAY

Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help employees stay healthy. The 5 A DAY message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day.  Fruit and vegetables are also usually low in fat and calories (provided they aren’t fried or roasted in lots of oil). That’s why eating them can help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy.

A Healthy Performance nutrition and diet workshop covers topics such as energy levels, food labelling, weight management, eat to perform and many more.  Throughout the sessions we use interactive methods to engage staff and take the approach of ‘balance’ and eating in moderation.  

5. Eat less salt and fat

Sticking on the diet theme, extensive research has proven that excessive salt and fat in our diets is a major cause of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Our bodies need a little bit of salt to survive, but the amount the majority of employees eat is far more than they require. Too much salt in your food can cause high blood pressure and make them 3 times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.

Nearly two thirds of employees in the UK have too much saturated fat in their diets, putting them at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Get tips on cutting your salt levels at Action on Salt intake and Change 4 Life have some great advice on how to cut back on the fat.

6. Quit smoking

An obvious one if some of your employees are smokers but there are hundreds of benefits to encouraging them to quit.

The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate. After 20 minutes, blood pressure and resting heart rate returns to normal. After 24 hours, lungs start to clear. After three days employees can breathe more easily, and their energy increases.  After just 1 year their risk of a heart attack drops sharply after you quitting.  After 2 to 5 years, their chance of a stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s.  And within 5 years of quitting, their chance of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.

For help with quitting, visit your GP or local pharmacy and you may qualify for free nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and inhalers.

7. Watch your stress levels

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2011/12, 428,000 employees in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That’s 40% of all work-related illness. Some pressure at work can be motivating, but when it becomes excessive it can eventually lead to work-related stress.

Stress symptoms include a pounding heart or palpitations, a dry mouth, headaches, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex.

Healthy Performance has created stress and resilience programmes for global brands and many SME’s. Our programmes help employees to understand stress and pressure and look at trigger points, relaxation, recognising signs and how to deal with stress.  We also look at building a resilience strategy and coping mechanisms. 

8. Improve your sleep

Sleep deprivation can hurt your workforce and cause employees to zone out during important meetings and produce work of lower quality.  Nearly every employee has problems sleeping at some point in their life. It’s thought that a third of people in the UK have bouts of insomnia.

Most healthy adults sleep for an average of seven to nine hours a night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can affect relationships, your performance at work, and it can delay recovery from illness. Good sleep starts with a good bedtime ritual and some simple lifestyle changes.

Healthy Performance has conducted several employer projects examining employee health, lifestyle and sleep patterns. Employee sleep patterns are analysed and then employees were measured on the impact of sleeping patterns from team challenges and planned activities. 

8. Quit smoking

The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate. After 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After 24 hours, your lungs start to clear. After three days you can breathe more easily, and your energy increases. Keep it up and you’re adding years to your life. Research shows that people who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. For help with quitting, including what your GP can do and nicotine replacement therapies, visit stop smoking.

9. Check that lump

The devastating fact is that 1 in 3 people in England will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life. Cancer usually affects older people, but it can occur at any age. Detecting most cancers early means that treatment is more likely to be successful. Sometimes, noticing a small change, like a lump, changes to a mole, or unexplained weight loss, can make a big difference to your health. For tips on spotting the early signs of cancer, visit the Cancer Research website.

10. 5 steps to mental wellbeing

Your employees mental health is important. Some mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are common. Scientific evidence points to five steps that we can take to improve our mental wellbeing. If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from your life.  Encourage your employees to approach them with an open mind and try them out:

connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. 

be active  – find the activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.

keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence.

give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word.

be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. 

For information on how you can improve the health and well-being of your employees please call the HP Team on 01295 230120.