2020 has disrupted many of our corporate traditions. Office birthday celebrations, team building events and end of year parties will all look very different this year. So what will corporate gifting look like as the holiday season approaches? Can you expect to see those gift hampers start arriving from December 1st? You know the ones. The baskets of varying sizes, teaming with chocolate coated almonds, wine as well as jellies and jams made from a curious combination of seasonal fruits. Not the healthiest or the most original of gifts… 

As your healthy workplaces partner, we’d like to suggest a few alternatives to this corporate tradition in 2020: 

Charitable Giving

Consider donating to a charity that is important to your client. You might even consider donating to Healthy Workplaces; the charity that brings you Tour de Office and aims to raise awareness about the negative health impacts of inactivity! 

Health and Wellbeing

Initiatives like Tour de Office and Step Forward can engage your clients in a fun, positive and inclusive workplace activity! 

Healthy Hamper

If you can’t let go of the hamper, why not pack it with items that support the wellbeing of your client? These could include anything from yoga passes and resistance bands, to healthy snacks seasonal produce.

We look forward to seeing how organisations tweak their gifting this season to ensure they are helping, not hampering, workplace wellbeing. 

 

In response to the recent developments with COVID-19, many employers have made the choice to have their teams work from home for a short period. Working from home may be appealing for some (hello no commuting) but can be challenging for others (hi extroverts). We want to make sure you are keeping up with healthy workplace practices from home as we are all too aware of the negative health effects of sitting down all day. Here are three simple tips so you can #quitthesit

1. Set an alarm for every hour to get up out of your seat.

In the office, you would be used to getting up regularly to talk to a coworker or move to a meeting room. But when you are working from home, with no one else there, and no meeting room to walk to, you might just forget to move. Set an alarm to stretch those legs and get your blood flowing.

Bonus: Being in your own home is a great opportunity to do some basic exercise you can’t complete in the office. Do a few yoga poses or jog on the spot for a minute.

2. Take a lunch break.

No, we don’t mean moving to the couch for some Netflix. Give your eyes a rest by taking them away from your computer screen and get yourself away from your desk. 

3. Go for a walk.

Make sure you’re getting in your 30 minutes of exercise a day even if you can’t go to the gym. Fit this in either the morning or afternoon when you would have been commuting. It’s a great opportunity to get some Vitamin D while helping you clear your mind and give you the energy boost to get through your work-day or unwind from it.

Stay healthy riders and help us #quitthesit

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According to the Department of Health, nearly 70% of Australian adults (i.e. almost 12 million adults) are sedentary or have low levels of physical activity.

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” Dr James Levine

The cost of chronic illness to Australia is more than $15 billion each year. The occurrence of chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes is rapidly growing; 280 Australians diagnosed with this preventable illness every day. Research demonstrates that prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. Remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do.

Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death. 

The human body was designed to move… and to keep on moving. The only way to reduce the risk of chronic diseases is to break up the amount of time we spend sitting each day with exercise.

The Simple Ways to Increase Activity While Working

  • Park a block further away from the office
  • Hop off the bus/ train a stop early
  • Take the stairs or exit the lift early
  • Regularly stand up and stretch
  • Take phone calls while standing – walk around if possible
  • Walk across the hall to speak with a colleague rather than sending an email
  • Use an exercise ball as a seat. Balancing will engage your core and work those abs!
  • Take your lunch for a walk- enjoy it in the fresh air
  • Engage in ‘walking meetings’
  • Switch to a standing working station 
  • Increasing Wellness at Work

The modern workplace is seeing increased employee flexibility, healthier work environments and improvements in technology to support wellness. From ergonomic office furniture, stand up desks, in-house gyms to healthy snacks in the kitchen or vending machines and apps to track and remind users about mobility – there are many ways to encourage us all to be healthier.

Corporate wellness programs are designed to support employees in understanding health risks and choosing healthy behaviour at work to improve their overall fitness and reduce their health care expenditure. These programs can reduce the cost of hospitalisation, emergency room visits, specialist visits, and surgeries. Moreover, corporate wellness programs result in a decrease in absenteeism, increase in productivity, and improvement in the quality of life of employees.

If you are looking for more ways to get your staff active and healthy at work and would like to participate in Tour de Office, we are delivering more flexible, custom event options designed to suit your organisation’s size, culture and budget – find out more and GET INVOLVED!

More Resources

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

25 Best Fitness Apps for 2017

Forbes – The Ten Best Exercises to do at your desk

Deskercise – 33 smart ways to exercise at work

 

Christmas time is upon us again! This sentence can spark joy for some, and trigger an internal eye roll for others. With the endless celebrations, a long shopping list, and work deadlines to meet; it can be difficult at this time of the year to keep up your health and fitness routine.

But we are here to help with 4 tips on how to keep healthy over the holidays.

Tip #1

Quit the sit! As the deadlines draw nearer, and the calendars fill up with social events, it can be easy to stay seated all day. But, just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean we don’t need our daily dose of activity. Be sure to schedule time to use your stand up desk, suggest that walking meeting, and take that lunch time stroll. It all adds up and you’ll feel better for it. If you’re new to the whole stand up desk thing, I suggest setting a goal of 1 hour per day and then slowly increase your time standing each week.

Tip #2

Try to limit the snacking at home and at work. With lots of delicious food on offer, it is easy to give into the temptations. We don’t expect you to be the Christmas Grinch and say no to all of the treats. However we suggest finding a middle ground. Allow yourself to indulge once or twice a week… just not everyday. 

Tip #3

Get outdoors for some incidental exercise! It’s basically an oven outside in Australia during the Christmas holidays. To keep cool, you can run outside with the family underneath a sprinkler, or if you have access to a pool or beach, go for a swim. You will build up an appetite for all of those prawns in no time.

Tip #4

Many people travel over the holidays and may not have access to their gym. Not having access to the gym equipment you are used to can sometimes lead you to not do any exercise at all. If you can relate to this, we suggest creating a circuit that you can complete with family or friends. We have made a suggestion below to get you started!

Complete 3 rounds of the below:

20 squats
20 sit ups
10 pushups
10 burpees

The circuit doesn’t have to be fancy. Just enough to get you out of breath and sweaty for 20-30 minutes.

We hope the above tips help you to sleigh this holiday season, and kickstart 2020.

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

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In this edition of our No Excuses Series, we hear from Katie Redhead who recently came on board as Event Leader for Tour de Office. During our chat with Katie, she shared how she keeps herself motivated to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Tell us about yourself and what you do.

Following 8 years in the events industry, November will be my second month in the role of Event Leader… and I’m loving it! This role involves managing the Tour de Office event for Healthy Workplaces, as well as planning client and industry events for Scout Talent. To make these events happen, I am supported by and work with many amazing people. Collaborating with lots of stakeholders is a part of my role that is really enjoyable.

What does your average day of being active look like? 

My partner and I spend our mornings together in the kitchen preparing yummy and healthy meals for the day. Breakfast is usually eggs and avocado on toast, with a delicious hot cup of coffee from the Breville machine (my most prized possession). From there, I’m off to work where it usually gets pretty busy but I do make a conscious effort to take a lunch break to stretch my legs and get some Vitamin D. 

I am very grateful to work for a group who supports the health and wellbeing of its employees. We use standing-desks in the office so I try to spend part of my day standing up – although I would like to achieve longer periods of standing in the future. In addition, there is an in-office yoga group that I participate in once a week for an hour.

After work, 5 days a week, I will go to the gym to either do some Olympic Weightlifting or a CrossFit class. Training normally takes 2 – 2.5 hours, so after that, it is pretty much home, cook, clean, and go to sleep. All that weightlifting makes me tired!). 

How do you stay motivated and continue to do this (nearly) every day?

I have stuck to this routine for about 5 years now so it is pretty much habit. But that’s not to say that some afternoon’s I don’t feel like going straight home to relax or catch up on housework or emails. I try to keep in mind how I feel after eating well and exercising. No matter how tired or stressed I am, I know that I will always feel better after a workout. 

Olympic Weightlifting and CrossFit are both sports too, which I think is key to staying motivated. Being a sport, you have teammates and a coach who checks in on you if you miss a few sessions in a row. You also have competitions to work towards and goals to meet that helps get you to training. My partner also trains at the same gym so it is something we enjoy doing together.

What do you find the most challenging about keeping an active and healthy lifestyle?

It’s very time-consuming! I sometimes think of all the things I could achieve if I gave up sport… but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

When did this routine begin? And why?

My routine of working out regularly started about 5 years ago. That is when I first started training in Olympic Weightlifting, and I become really addicted, really quickly. It was the first sport I participated in after high school, and it was the challenge of getting better at particular skills and movements that kept me going back. I found that to be very motivating.

Do you ever change it up?

Not really. If I am sick or injured, I will always listen to my body and give it a rest. Otherwise, I’m pretty content with the routine I have going at the moment.

What is your tip for others? 

If possible, join a sport or make working out as social as possible. Having other people involved can help you to feel accountable, and you can motivate one another too.

What is your favourite exercise?

If I have to do cardio, I’ll go for rowing or cycling. I try to avoid running as it tends to result in sore knees. In terms of weights, I’m not fussy but I will make sure there is a lot of variety so that I don’t get bored. Anything that requires a bit of skill or technique is my favourite, as you become so focussed on that, you forget you’re working out!

Read Part 1 of our No Excuses to see how Helen, a mum of nearly three balances work and keeping active. Or Part 2 if you want to know how Alex stays fit and keeps his nutrition in check.

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Tour de Office interviewed Andrea Davey, CEO of Scout Talent Group, to discuss how she instils health and wellbeing in her team through leading by example.

What are your thoughts on creating a healthy work environment for the people you work with?

Encouraging the people I work with to be healthier makes so much sense because it makes them happier, and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. Being healthier also gives the people in my team more energy and that means that they can perform better at work. It’s a positive cycle and I view ‘prioritising healthy workplace practices’ as a leadership tool to support my people to be the best they can be.

How do you implement this?

I try to lead by example. For example, working out during my lunch break and eating well… also keeping my alcohol intake in moderation!

I am conducting more and more ‘walking meetings’ with my team. If I have a meeting booked with someone where the topics we’re discussing don’t require us to be in front of our laptops, I’ll ask them the day before if they’d like to make our meeting a ‘walking meeting’. If they’re keen we bring comfortable walking shoes and during the meeting time we go for a walk along the river for half an hour instead of just sitting down. My team members seem to be really enjoying these meetings. We get some extra steps into our day, and the fresh air helps clear our heads. Some of the best creative thinking is done during walking meetings!

I’ve also had some team members ask for flexibility in their 8:20am-5pm day, to make room for exercise. Some people exercise during their lunch break, but that doesn’t always work if someone has a meeting with a client or an interview with a candidate in the afternoon. For many people, working out at lunchtime means they need to shower afterwards and some people want to do their hair or re-apply makeup before afternoon meetings. All of these things create barriers to getting exercise done at lunch. It can all seem a bit ‘too hard’. So, something that’s working well is giving team members the flexibility to work through the traditional lunch hour and take an hour off at 4 pm, for example, to exercise.

Do you encourage bonding over healthy living practices as a team outside of work?

Absolutely. Over the years, health and fitness events (e.g. fun runs like Bridge to Brisbane) have been popular. We often sign up as a team and our business pays half of the entry fee for all participants. 

How do you lead by example when it comes to mental health and wellbeing?

Earlier this year I read ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear and ever since then I’ve been ‘habit tracking’. Essentially I choose a few key daily habits I want to develop and I use a diary to mark each day that I follow each habit. Over the last 6 months, one of my habits has been to ‘down the tools at 5 pm’. This means I have time for my family, for myself, and ultimately makes me more productive during the time I do spend working. I track this habit on a daily basis and share my results with my team pretty regularly. I encourage anyone in my team who wants to do the same (keeping their work hours in check) to do so. Burnout is a serious thing, it’s on the rise, and it has such a toll on your mental and physical health. I want the people who work in my team to be able to ‘down the tools’ and go and enjoy the other wonderful aspects of their lives.

Everyone is looking for ways to be less tired, more productive and healthier. I’m here to let you know that there is a way to avoid your afternoon slump, fly through the stack of papers at your desk while being a healthier person and it involves eating.

So, you already know about 5 fruits and vegetables a day but are you ready for 10? Yes, 10 fruits and vegetables a day, 10 times more than just your apple a day to keep the doctor away. New research has shown that eating 10 servings of fruit and veg a day can greatly reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer while giving you a better sleep – it’s a win-win. 

Now 10 servings may sound like a lot (especially if you’re not hitting your 5 already) but the serving size is 80 grams, it’s achievable. It’s not all spinach and brussels sprouts either – though they are recommended – but citrus fruits, apples and pears as well as carrots, beans and broccoli are included in the mix that should regularly be consumed. 

Though consuming the classic 5 a day is still highly beneficial, try to slowly increase your intake until you hit 10. You can add another fruit or veg in each week and remember that it’s not all boring bowls of salad or steaming plates of boiled vegetables. It’s as simple as swapping out an unhealthy snack (like the biscuits that always seem to be in the breakroom) for a banana or carrot. Or try swapping your secret stash of muesli bars in your desk for some fresh fruit. 

Some risks were lowered by as much as 31% though, which does make consuming 10 servings feel worthwhile. Why would you not want to lower your cholesterol, reduce your blood pressure and boosts your immune system? This means less sick days and less stress about falling behind on your work.

But aside from life-changing health benefits, you’ll have more sustainable energy to get you through the day. This will increase your productivity and concentration so you can pull through your work-day with no afternoon slump. Eating a higher intake of fruit and vegetables has also been shown to increase your creativity – your problem-solving skills will be at an all-time high.

Nature is good for you.

There are many benefits of spending some time each day immersed in the sound of trees blowing in the breeze, birds chirping, the scent of dewy grass.

You see, spending 17 minutes a day – 2 hours a week in total – outside in nature has health benefits similar to what you would achieve through physical exercise. This short amount of time spent in nature can help relieve stress while boosting your mood and self-esteem. This is why holidays on the beach or at the ski slopes tend to leave people in such a good mood.

But you don’t need to go climb a mountain or trek through a forest to achieve this joyous feeling. Just spend some uninterrupted time in your backyard or in a park with no technology to distract yourself. 

Take time to smell the roses.

It’s winter, which means it’s cold, possibly snowing, you wish you could eat a few pounds of food and hibernate in your cozy bed. Sadly, you’re not a bear who doesn’t need to go to work and pay the bills. Yet getting out of bed to go to work seems too much of an effort when it’s so cold outside, you want to pretend you don’t have to exercise in winter. Maybe you just won’t exercise, it’s too cold, what would you even be able to do? 

Well, I’m here to burst your bubble and let you know about all the wonderful exercises you can do in the winter. And to make it worse, most of them are free which means you have no excuse to order in food while you stay in the comfort of your bed re-watching Harry Potter for the hundredth time. 

First off, make sure you’re doing some stretches before you start exercising (these you can do in bed). You want to get your body warm and ready for some exercise. 

If you’ve got some spare money lying around, you could consider signing up to a gym even if just for winter so no matter sun, rain or snow, you’ll be able to fit in your workout without getting frostbite. Or you could try out your local pool as many are heated or will have an indoor option, that way you can swim laps in what you can pretend is an oversized bathtub. 

But maybe you’re a team sports person yet can’t commit to the cold outdoors that football and soccer require. Luckily there are many indoor sports options like basketball, netball and volleyball. 

Though maybe you’re using all and any savings you have on the heater this weekend so it would make sense to make the most of your warm house. So to help you save your pennies and keep you active and healthy through winter, I’ve researched the best exercises you can do at home with equipment you may already have or just some clear floor space.

Pull out your old skipping rope and get jumping. Skipping for a few minutes make you think you’ve been running for the last ten minutes. But maybe skipping isn’t your thing or you can’t find your skipping rope. Chances are though you have a phone or a computer (how else would you be reading this?) and those wonderful pieces of technology have all sorts of workout videos you can follow that can all be done in your lounge room. 

It might be winter but unless you’re a bear, you have no excuse but to get up, get moving and quit the sit.

This is a story about a person many of us know (maybe too well). This story could be triggering for some readers who need a coffee in the morning and can’t resist a bickie when it’s there.

Your alarm goes off, you groan as you roll onto your side to turn it off. Your eyelids feel too heavy to open and you feel like calling in sick for work so you can stay in bed. It’s warm and comfortable but you know you need to get up. You know if you just get a coffee…

And your first mistake for the day is made.

Coffee contains caffeine, which does have some health benefits and the bonus of making you feel more alert. But did you know that caffeine can keep you awake at night and that this process can be delayed for up to 10 to 12 hours for some? A morning coffee can be the first downfall of the day.

But it’s just one coffee and you need it, so it’s fine.

You then lap up a bowl of chocolate cereal, a nutritional breakfast as the box says.

But it’s not. It has minimal health benefits, no matter what it claims. It’s heavily processed and the sugar content is so high it’s no wonder your kids are so hyper (and somewhat annoying) in the morning.

Breakfast is done though. There was nothing else in the house. You’ll redeem yourself the rest of the day. You get changed into your work clothes and think ‘these feel a little tight’. You leave it at that though even though this is due to your unhealthy eating and sleeping habits. Those habits lead to weight gain and make it difficult to lose that weight later on.

You’re in the office, there are a few biscuits out on the table to share. You grab one or two (or five). A few biscuits won’t do that much harm. Little do you know you’ve just eaten away thirty minutes worth of good sleep tonight. Food with high-sugar can damage your sleep, no matter what time of day they were consumed.

Lunch comes around, you were in a rush this morning so you forgot to pack your own. You’re left to pick something up nearby. You don’t want to spend too much or take too long. You grab a meat pie and a fizzy drink.

BAM. More caffeine mixed with a buttload of unnecessary carbohydrates. Have you even eaten a vegetable today?

It’s fine. You’ll have some veggies for dinner. But wait, you’re tired. Because you got no sleep last night and the food you’ve eaten isn’t proving to be a sufficient energy source. So what’s for dinner…?

You grab Subway for the family. They’ve got salads in them. It’s fine (except you got white bread and extra cheese and nearly a few extra squirts of mayo). 

Later on, you look at the clock, it’s time for bed. You know if you don’t fall asleep now you’ll be tired tomorrow. Little do you know that you won’t fall asleep straight away, you’ll lay there tossing and turning even though you feel tired. Tomorrow won’t get any better though, lack of sleep leads to poor food choices which leads to an endless cycle.