The 3 benefits of using a standing desk at work

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

 

When the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” was first referenced in the media it created absolute pandemonium in our Corporate Wellness Centres!

I remember many of our clients attending their Physiotherapy or Myotherapy appointments with sore necks and lower backs wanting quick answers. Our staff were inundated with requests for ergonomic advice, and opinions on the latest craze of the year – standing desks!

“Tom, I watched the news and apparently sitting is the new smoking. My work colleague has a sore back and ordered a standing desk – do you think I need one?” This conversation was had on repeat and continues today.

With influence by reputable employers like Apple endorsing standing desks they really could be onto something. The CEO of Apple Tim Cook has recently commented in an interview about Apple Park “We have given all of our employees, 100%, standing desks. If you can stand for a while, then sit, and so on and so forth, it’s much better for your lifestyle.” Before we take Mr Cook’s word for it – let’s analyse the facts.

The facts

In 2016, Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) ranked 7th on the list of top drivers of global disability. Among those aged 15–49, the top contributors to MSDs included occupational injuries and ergonomic issues in the workplace (HME, 2015).

The impact of these MSDs on productivity, presenteeism and lost time are well documented in occupational health.

With increased demand for knowledge workers influencing workplaces across the world – it is essential that the health of employees is prioritised.

Why does sitting cause lower back pain?

Contrary to the alarmists in the media, and health professionals who have enjoyed their time in the sun on this topic – let me say one thing: there is nothing wrong with sitting.

We sit to enjoy a cup of tea with friends, we sit and watch our children run at the park, we sit down at a nice restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine. Sitting is part of everyday life.

Two words I want you to understand and be aware of: Ischaemic. Pain.

Ischaemic. If I was a gambling man, I bet five dollars that you have heard the word ischaemic heart disease. Ischaemic by definition refers to the deficiency of blood supply to a body part due to the obstruction of inflow of arterial blood. A practical example of this is when you sit at your desk for too long during the day and you feel your lower back tensing and becoming sore. This can be a restriction in blood flow to that area of your body. You stand up, go for a walk and the tension is relieved, and goes away.

Pain. By cognitive association you are no doubt thinking about the last time you hurt a body part. Say the word pain ten times and it sounds like it hurts. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual or potential tissue damage.

A practical example of pain is when you sit at the desk for over 2 hours. You feel your lower back tense and it becomes sore. You feel frustrated, worried and angry that your back is sore. You get up to move but you are still sore. You are ‘so busy’ and take Nurofen to make it better. You return to sitting at your desk and the pain cycle continues.

If you marry ischemic and pain together you are probably sitting on the problem!

Have a look at your colleagues sitting at their desk. Are they stooped forward at their head and neck? Are they hunched over at their mid spine and look tired?

These positions not only look emotionally sad, but they are problematic – especially when held for a prolonged period of time. Blood flow is restricted, movement is stagnant and you not only feel pain, but you can feel trapped in a vicious cycle of inactivity, and struggle to get comfortable.

The rise of the standing desk

I’m sure you have that colleague that plays up and down with the sit stand desk all day. I bet they even count steps on their fitbit, do crossfit and are always up for a chat about how many mindful moments they have completed this week.  

They are so ridiculously happy with themselves aren’t they?

Cutting through this though – in my opinion – the main benefits of using a standing desk or active workstations are very logical.

Productivity  Standing up demands a happier, and more engaged posture. Increased alertness and engagement nets greater productivity than sitting. Simple.

Increased energy levels Standing up will cumulatively improve mood, and will result in greater energy output over time.

Reduce cardiovascular risk One of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease is circumference of the waist. Standing up results in greater oxygen uptake of the employee and more incidental movement. These factors combined can reduce your cardiovascular risk profile.

So should you get a standing desk?

With small and large organisations making significant investment into active workstations, break out spaces and ergonomic furnishings – this is the time to ‘stand up’, and invest in you.

Tom is the Director of Pinnacle Health Group Australia & Movement Concept Advisor for the International WELL Building standards Institute.

Are you practising wellness in the workplace?

Wellness in the workplace is crucial in establishing a productive and dynamic environment. At Pinnacle Health Group, we aim to inspire a healthier workplace by encouraging busy Australians to take control of their health and wellbeing.

From encouraging more standing time in the office to practicing weekly meditation, our wellness experts can guide your team or organisation on wellbeing options you can implement in the workplace today. For more information, fill out our workplace wellness enquiry form and one of our experts will be happy to assist you further.

An Introduction To Wellness Leave

Healthy nutrition
By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

 

3 reasons why wellness leave was introduced at Pinnacle Health Group (and why your business should too!)

It all started with a big leadership question: How am I supporting the wellbeing of our people?

What led to this question was more interesting.

As a small business owner, a thick skin is required to deal with the magnitude of stress that is part of the deal when operating a growing business.

In 2015, our business Pinnacle Health Group doubled in staff, locations and launched interstate. The rhythm of business at this point in time can be best described as manic.

Keeping up with the demands of running Pinnacle Health Group in start-up mode for a number of years was starting to take its toll on my physical and mental health. Like most men, the way I would deal with it was to internalise the stress and put the head down and keep going.

Eventually, I found the time for a breather, and with my young family we booked a one-week holiday to Perth for some sun, relaxation and family time. But with so much activity still going on in the workplace, I really struggled to switch off mentally.

When I finally managed to put some daylight between myself and work, my body shut down and I found myself suffering from physical symptoms of exhaustion and burnout.

On this holiday, I spent an embarrassing four out of six days in and out of bed unwell with health issues relating to stress. The guilt of my family time being disrupted by work was real.

I realised at that point that I was burning out and that I’d neglected my own health over the last two years.

I thought to myself, if I am feeling like this way, how do our people feel?

More confronting for me was the question I asked myself. What am I specifically doing to support the wellbeing of our people?

A few months later as we geared up for another year at Pinnacle Health Group, this leadership question led to our employee wellbeing program Pinnacle Life being revamped and re-positioned for our people.

Led by our People and Operations Leader Emma Dwan, we took a methodical approach to influencing a positive change for our people.

We started by interviewing our people and collecting data. One of the most eye opening statistics was that 41% have felt stressed or overwhelmed at work in the previous 3 months. This statistic really bothered me.

 

So what is wellness leave?

Wellness leave is time taken away from work to hit the reset button and engage in some self-care. At Pinnacle Health Group, we proactively encourage our employees to take one day off per quarter to engage in activity that supports their wellbeing.

We envisaged our team having a sleep in, reflecting, doing an exercise class, reading a book or socialising with friends. Key to the whole process has been giving our people the space to choose their own adventure!

When it comes to talking about exactly why we’ve introduced wellness leave at Pinnacle Health Group – there are three big reasons.

 

Prevention is better than a cure

By sharing my personal story internally and hosting company wide meetings – we were able to introduce and encourage prevention. My personal story opened up dialogue internally about self care and mental health. This open dialogue helped give context to what we were striving to achieve and gave our policies and efforts toward preventative personal wellbeing a structure.
 

For the fun of it

Life is about enjoyment and sometimes we get lost in the busy-ness trap until that one dedicated holiday a year. By encouraging extra time away from work, we are really encouraging our team members to do something fun for themselves.

One of our team members said “Wellbeing leave was my favourite day of the year so far! It is so nice to have a day off when the rest of the world is working. I went to a morning gym class, met my bestie for coffee to celebrate her birthday. We talked for hours! The best part was being able to spend a lifetime in the shower and over lunch with no pressure to rush or be anywhere. In the early afternoon I took a drive down the Peninsula and went to a superb winery to finish off the day in style. This day was amazing, giving me the opportunity to relax, refresh and really unwind”

Another team member said “For my wellbeing leave I was able to get a light gym session done in the morning. Caught up on some admin and did some reading which is usually rare but seems more consistent since that day. The day also gave me time to think and reflect and I spoke to my uprise coach at the end of the day. The introduction of these days I’m sure has been welcomed companywide.”
 

To inspire our people and those around us

Our core purpose at Pinnacle Health Group is to inspire health changes in people and the workplace. We love what we do 100%, but sometimes the sheer volume of clients can lead to empathy fatigue and burnout.

For health professionals sometimes we are listening and consulting over 60 people a week. It simply wouldn’t make sense to work this hard to help others, only to fail to live up to our own advice and let our own health be compromised.

By establishing wellness leave as part of how we do things at Pinnacle Health Group, we have created some time for our people to do something fun, inspiring and remembering their why. In short, to inspire others, it is important to be inspired.
 

Summary

In 12 months, we have successfully had 73% of our team members take wellness leave. Absenteeism figures have dropped by a whopping 51% compared to the prior year.

I’d highly encourage your workplace to review HR policies relating to employee wellbeing.

Ask yourself, what can be done to support your people?

Before you do that – open up the dialogue with your people. Develop a picture of where your organisation is at – like we did. And figure out how you’re going to track your success with the implementation of a wellness leave policy.

Wellness leave has become part of our culture at Pinnacle Health Group and this is only one initiative of our integrated wellness program Pinnacle Life.

If you are interested in learning more about Pinnacle Life please get in touch at hello@pinnaclehealthgroup.com.au or call 1300 2 PINNACLE today.

5 Handy Hints for preparing for The Corporate Games

Five Handy Hints for preparing for The Australian Corporate Games

By Physiotherapist Josh Lambert

This year, we have teamed up with the Australian‬ Corporate Games as the official Health‬ Partner to help prevent and manage injuries for the competing ‪athletes‬ throughout the demands of their events.

Our Physiotherapy team unfortunately assess and treat far too many avoidable injuries that our clients suffer in the lead up to, during, and after the event – mainly a result of poor preparation!

Corporate Games Promo

Here are 5 key tips to ensure you prepare sufficiently for the Corporate Games, and avoid letting your team down during competition!

  1. Prepare a training plan
    You have under a month until competition now, but still plenty of time to schedule training sessions for fitness, skills, or a mix of both
  1. Practice matches
    Ensure that you undertake at least 4 sessions (preferably with the whole team for team events) that are simulated match practice, or training at match intensity – a great way to condition the body, whilst getting to know your team-mates!
  1. Don’t forget flexibility and core stability
    As your training increases, so too does the demand on the body. Performing dynamic stretches daily – such as leg swings, trunk rotations, and shoulder circles – will lengthen muscle tissue, and help prevent injury
  1. Deal with injuries or niggles now
    If your issue is dealt with early enough, you can ensure a more enjoyable competition, and risk further damage during the event
  1. Have fun!
    The lead up to the Corporate Games is all part of the experience for you and your team mates, so make it fun and social to build a great team culture!

Good luck to all the teams taking part this year!

Need some help getting prepped for the Corporate Games? Get in touch!

 

3 ways to create movement opportunities at work! by Tom Bosna

Are you tired of sitting and want to be more active?

With the corporate clientele I look after every week this is one of the biggest complaints. The easy option is to blame stress, the boss, your chair and your body. Let me put this in perspective and summarise the issue and some potential solutions.

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the time we spend at the workplace (in a chair) has a significant influence over a number of chronic illnesses. Heart Disease, Obesity and Diabetes are currently Australia’s biggest health issues.

A 2010 report from the University of Queensland showed that even when Adults met the recommended physical activity guidelines, the effects of this have been negated by the amount of time sitting per day. This has been labelled the “sitting disease” and we need to be proactive in fixing the problem.

Who goes to the gym four times a week and does body pump, spin, high intensity work outs and then sits all day?

Yoga

Below are 3 inexpensive ways to make yourself move!

Centralise Printers

Moving printers to a central location creates a “movement opportunity”. The more of these within the day the better. When you stand up and move, have a little stretch and take a deep breathe!

Walking meetings

The benefits of walking and stand up meetings are well documented. Whilst the physical benefits are obvious, the sharpening of the mind and the productivity output is my favourite aspect of the walking meeting. With the likes of Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg employing this method, why not join the elite and sharpen up your mind?

Work from anywhere and everywhere!

Agile working is the future of every office environment. Australia’s largest companies are all moving to “agile working”, “hot desking”, “flexi-desking” and insert any other appropriate corporate buzz words here.

Agile working encourages collaboration and creativity within the workplace. Smart technology enables us to work from anywhere and everywhere (perhaps this is part of the problem). The irony of course in this is that the developments in technology have made us sit more, when in fact maybe the intention was to free us up to move!

If you can mix up your day with standing, sitting, walking and working – you will be in good shape for the future.

 

Tom Bosna is the Principal Physiotherapist and Director at Pinnacle Health Group. With 10 years’ experience in Corporate Health and Wellbeing, you can expect a common-sense approach to any musculo-skeletal issues. Feel free to ask Tom any questions on tom.b@pinnaclehealthgroup.com.au. Tom is available from Monday to Friday at Flinders St, 120 Collins and Docklands. Contact Us today!