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.

Founder well-being: Check your health, before you wreck yourself!

This is a public service announcement for founders and the startup community.

Let’s be real about the treacherous lifestyle you have chosen. It is a roller coaster, one with many big dips, ups and loop the loop moments. Your friends and family think you are insane but you secretly love it. You know the startup grind requires courage, decisiveness and endurance.

Do you think you’re ready for the physicality of the startup grind?

Let me elaborate with a story about my mate Joe, an amazing entrepreneur from Melbourne.

Joe is a larger than life personality by nature, very likable and an extremely confident networker. Over the period of twelve months he successfully launched a health technology platform to the market and as any entrepreneur would do, he drove sales and joint ventures quickly.

Joe set the pace of the business and in year two his team grew very rapidly. Running on enthusiasm, adrenaline and excitement Joe started to find it a little difficult to switch off and get enough sleep. But there was no time for rest, exercise or time zone adjustments as he expanded into Singapore where he spent three months raising funds, networking and leading product expansion.

Joe’s friends and family were so happy for him, he was an overnight success until one night the fast-paced lifestyle had caught up with him. After an intensive Asian banquet for dinner and a few beers, he suddenly felt dizzy, had severe chest pain, headache and serious stomach pain.  Joe was instantly scared and worried.

Was it the dumplings, beers or a heart attack?

Let’s talk about three key components of well-being that Joe has neglected.

Don’t Forget to Fuel the Fire

An internal fire burns inside the heart of an entrepreneur like Joe.

It burns, it burns and then it runs out. What I failed to mention was that Joe was living on a diet of long macchiatos and espressos during business meetings (at least four a day). For dinner, uber eats was too convenient, not to mention pizza deliveries and coke zero for all-nighters with the team!

With so much caffeine and fast food fuelling his lifestyle, Joe was literally running on empty and the stomach pain was the symptom of a greater issue, his diet.

To the startup community I highly recommend consuming at least three glasses of water for every coffee you consume. Coffee in any shape or form is a stimulant, anti-diuretic and acts on the central nervous system to increase alertness.  Combining high stress work with caffeine and foods high in sodium, carbohydrates and fat will result in weight gain, sluggishness and decrease your performance. If you are a go-getter and want to excel like Joe, you want to consume foods rich in protein and low glycaemic index (GI).

Low GI foods can improve your ability to concentrate, sustain energy and make you feel fuller for longer – curbing the carbohydrate cravings such as pizza. Pick the right fuel for your engine.

No rest for the wicked

Founders are not immune to sleepless nights, feeling worried and working long hours. The founder lifestyle typically demands plenty of travel, early morning starts and late-night finishes, sleep becomes a liability.

In the case of Joe, his sleeping patterns became erratic. Over time, his sleeping pattern got so bad that four hours a night was considered the norm! Sleep can affect every part of your life. Your mood, energy and even your weight can all be influenced by the amount of sleep you achieve.

For founders, committing to healthy sleeping habits such as going to bed and waking at a consistent time is essential. Seven to nine hours minimum a night for healthy adults is required to perform well. Stay wicked but make sure you rest!

High intensity lifestyles require physical resilience

With less than ideal amounts of sleep and terrible food habits – Joe did not feel up for exercise. Prior to launching his business, he was an F45 member and attended six times a week. It was cult-like! His preference for fitness was high intensity and variety was important. But with the success of his business and growing travel requirements, even getting out for a short run became difficult.

Founders, please know one thing, the more physically active you are the greater your ability to think and create. If time is your excuse, then do a short burst of high intensity exercise for fifteen minutes daily. Being a brilliant entrepreneur requires creativity and resilience. Physical fitness will aid and improve these two areas dramatically.

Summary

Founders, you have chosen a difficult and challenging lifestyle. Fuelling, resting and staying fit will enhance your performance and help you achieve your dreams. Don’t be like Joe and burn out over dumplings and beers you are better than that!

Live the founder lifestyle with Pinnacle Health Group

Being a founder means committing to your own way of doing things. But you’ve got to be healthy to do it. Be a leader that pushes for better by making sure you’re making wellness and health a part of what you’re building by reaching out to Pinnacle Health Group today.

You can get in touch with the team at hello@pinnaclehealthgroup.com.au or call 1300 2 PINNACLE today.

Are you an active couch potato?

Active couch potato
By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

It is no secret, sitting for prolonged periods is NOT good for us.

With phrases like ‘sitting is the new smoking’ being used in the media, it’s important to really understand the key issues and be able to make informed decisions about how to look after ourselves in the workplace.

In 2015, I wrote a small article: 3 easy ways to create movement opportunities at work. At that point in time, there were new research findings coming from the University of Queensland that had caught my attention. According to their study into the effects of sitting for prolonged periods, even when adults met the recommended physical activity guidelines, the positive effects of that exercise were often negated by the amount of time they spent sitting.

In other words. If you enjoy a High Intensity Training (HIT) session three times a week at the gym but go back to work and sit like a desk jockey for the remaining 40 hours of the week. You are potentially sitting in the active couch potato seat and are not capitalising on incidental movement opportunities in the workplace.

In 2018, the research continues to show sedentary behaviours are strongly linked to negative health outcomes such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular, metabolic risks and premature death. The fact that all of the above are preventable is what is really concerning to me!

Based on my research and key learnings from the WELL Building standards study & Movement concept advisory I recommend three easy solutions to avoiding becoming an active couch potato.

Workplace Design

The future of work is technology enabled, hyper connected and agile in design. Gone are the days where you sit in the same desk every day and sit in meetings all day.

Modern workplaces are designed for movement. To help you figure out how your workplace stacks up, consider these questions:

  1. Are your locker, printer and meeting rooms all a walk from where you spend the majority of the day?
  2. Does the workplace have a wellness or fitness centre with exclusive deals for staff?
  3. Are standing desks or active workstations available in break out areas?

If you said yes to all of the above – you are in a well workplace. The key question is are you making the most of the design?

Plan your work, work your plan

As an astute observer of human behaviour and neuroscience enthusiast, it really bothers me when I see people walking with their phones glued to their hand in the early morning. I can see the phone lighting up like a Christmas tree with rapid push notifications jumping out of the screen. When you observe this happening it really looks like a wave of anxiety and I worry for the person’s brain and performance.

To address getting past this roadblock I believe that planning your work, and working your plan is essential. That means be diligent with your time management and working hard to avoid having your time and attention sapped by unnecessary distractions.

Encourage your people to get moving

Movement is great for your performance, mental health and resilience. If it was a pill everyone would be doing it! At Pinnacle Health Group, our teams utilise the walking meeting, pilates hour or exercise club to keep performance and morale high. This type of team activity is planned and organised to get the teams together once a week.

For anyone interested in learning about the neuroscience at work I’d highly recommend the book titled “Your brain at work” by David Rock. It is for those of you who are interested in surviving and thriving in the modern workplace.

You have to take the stairs

A wise person once said, there is no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs. You will see it every morning, there are people who take the escalator and those that take the stairs.

Choose the latter every time and this will improve your incidental movement output significantly.

In the modern workplace and cities of the future, active exterior design is critical to influencing physical engagement levels of the community. A nice practical resource on this topic is the walk score.

Summary

Movement is medicine for the mind and body with tangible returns on investment!

We spend 90% of our time indoors and one third of our lives at work. The great opportunity here is incidental movement. – make the most of your time.

Learn more with Pinnacle Health Group

Sometimes all it takes is a reminder, but other times I’ve found that making a change takes effort. If you think that the organisation you work for could use some help inspiring your people to get moving more throughout the day, you can get started by filling out a wellness enquiry form today.

Why the CEO Should Be the Most Physically Active in the Company

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with some truly inspiring CEOs and senior leaders in progressive and innovative Australian businesses.

I’ve been blown away by the commitment to wellbeing that I’ve seen. Being leaders in their company, the example that each of these individuals are setting for their people has made a very real impression on me.

Firstly, for the fact that they are investing the time in energy in bettering the lives of their workers. But also, that they are each treating wellness as more than just a people strategy. It has been so encouraging to see leaders take a real interest in creating a culture that cares and creates healthier individuals.

One of the biggest trends I have noted in my experience is that when the CEO and senior leaders are physically active – they statistically have a more engaged workplace and healthier company profile.

While the benefits of being physically active are pretty clear as mentioned in my previously articles – reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression and some forms of cancer. The benefits of having a physically fit and active CEO and senior leadership team are ground-breaking. In practical terms, the ripple effect on the entire organisation is positively linked with great performance and engagement. So, let’s dive in…

 

3 reasons senior leaders should be the most physically active in the organisation

 

Performance Perks

The organisations that had physically active leaders have been found to be more satisfied with their own performance as a team. With a leader that exercised at least five times a week for over 30 mins at moderate exertion, researchers noticed that employees worked smarter and had reduced rates of absenteeism compared to the less active teams.

In my opinion, if the CEO is physically active and is able to discuss the benefits openly in conversation, the entire organisation can benefit. The physical, social and psychological pillars of the organisation can all be positively influenced by the example that an active CEO can set. From a performance perspective, active CEO’s enjoy greater performance across the wider group with case studies revealing higher workforce resilience scores compared to inactive CEO cohorts.

 

Psychological Safety

One of the greatest tasks of the CEO is to create an environment where employees feel psychologically safe. Whilst, the usual focus here is on mental health, I’d like to divert to talk about creating a culture of individual empowerment.

In my dealings, the more physically active CEOs and senior teams have had a much healthier approach to work. Giving their people the freedom to self-manage their workload and leaving space for more flexible working arrangements. Physically active CEO’s seem to trust their workers more, helping to create a culture of psychological safety. We have seen this phenomenon in our corporate wellness centres where staff can access our wellness services whilst at work. Whether that be a Yoga class, a Physiotherapy appointment or a skin check – all is encouraged in a safe culture of wellbeing.

 

Wellbeing champions – the ripple effect

In my consulting work, I have seen CEO’s with teams ranging in size from 50 all the way through to 5000 who have built physical activity into the culture. In one organisation, the core values were created with wellbeing being a key focus – and the subtext being – ‘be the change you want to see’ – how remarkable is that!

With physical fitness being a key pillar for this organisation, organically the CEO and senior leaders have created a culture of wellbeing champions.

One senior leader reported that in their team a team manager of 300 organically started a running group for the Melbourne half marathon. The leader noticed his team drinking too much coffee and sitting for too long and was fed up! The team manager had lost a significant amount of weight in the companies group fitness challenge two years prior and had wanted the team to feel the benefits they had experienced themselves.

Creating wellbeing champions is the mecca of all wellbeing strategy and engagement. The CEO’s who are physically active create a ripple effect of influence and it is embedded into the company culture.

 

The take home!

Physically active CEOs and leaders are high impact individuals, their teams perform better and they create a legacy of wellbeing champions. Get moving, lead from the front and enjoy the ripple effect.

 

Lead from the front – with the help of the Pinnacle Health Group

Creating a workplace culture that encourages the best in everyone doesn’t have to be a battle – not when you commit to leading from the front. If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Pinnacle Health Group to help companies like yours encourage wellness in their people, get in touch by filling out a wellness enquiry form today.

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.

The Top 5 Benefits of Meditation

Several women practicing yoga in sunlight

It’s too easy to lose contact with your inner self while you constantly negotiate your busy, stressful life to try and get everything done.

It seems counterintuitive, but slowing down to just sit and breathe for a while can actually make you more productive and happier, and the benefits of meditation don’t stop there.

It’s been shown that regular meditation changes the way your brain and body react to stress, making you more self-aware, calmer, and able to take setbacks and even chronic pain in your stride.

This Is Your Brain On Meditation

When you practice meditation you can reduce stress and inflammation in the body that can cause illness and disease.

This is one of the major reasons why people start a meditation routine.

It can be hard to get started, and to find the time to meditate, but it’s free and you can do it almost anywhere. Even meditating for a few minutes a day can improve your stress and anxiety levels.

Making You A Nicer Person

It’s not that you’re not a nice person, but sometimes you’re at your wit’s end with everything you have to deal with in a single day, and being kind all the time is just too hard.

When you meditate you become calmer, and you not only reconnect with yourself, you increase your empathy and make better connections with others.

Meditation makes you able to read the facial expressions and body language of others, and you become kinder and more understanding.

Most of us want to be better, kinder people but when we have an opportunity to show kindness we often push the thought away and don’t act on it. A regular meditation practice will make you more likely to act on your kind thoughts, and the world needs more of that.

Better Sleep

Who wouldn’t want to sleep better and wake up refreshed and eager to start the day?

Insomnia and other sleep disorders affect a large percentage of the population and many take prescription medication in an effort to get that much needed good night’s sleep.

Meditation can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, all without taking any harmful drugs.

Longer Attention Span

In order to meditate effectively you need to focus your attention on your breathing, clear your mind and stop your thoughts from wandering.

This helps increase your attention span and think more clearly, with better memory retention.

Better Overall Health

A calm and happy person is more likely to enjoy better health, be less susceptible to addictions, age better with less chance of age-related brain conditions, have lower blood pressure, less systemic inflammation, and the list goes on.

Combined, these health benefits could ensure you live a long and happy life.

Helping You Reap the Benefits of Meditation

Pinnacle Health Group believes that healthier workplaces create healthier people, and we want to inspire change in every workplace.

We provide state-of-the-art health clinics, corporate health services, and property wellbeing initiatives to meet the demands of a progressive, modern lifestyle.

Call us on (03) 9600 3590 or contact us online for enquiries about our health and wellbeing services, or make a booking at one of our locations in Victoria or NSW.

Are you Addicted to your Smartphone? by Tom Bosna

Recent research into this space suggest that an attachment to your smart phone is similar to other addictions and it involves the dysregulation of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s reward centre. In other words, it motivates people to do things they think they will be rewarded for doing. Every time you get an email through your phone, there is a little elevation in dopamine that says you might have something that’s compelling. You don’t know what the email is, who it’s from, when you’re going to get it and that’s why you have to keep checking your phone. Can you see the problem here?

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Six Steps to a Healthier You in 2015 by Edwina McDonald

Living healthier is often just a matter of changing a few simple lifestyle habits: getting more exercise, eating healthier, not stressing the little stuff. This is often easier to say then do when combined with a busy work week and a full social calendar! However we have an article and offer that will ensure your 2015 is a healthy one! Edwina McDonald, Pinnacle Health Group’s Dietitian and Nutrionist, gives you practical and achievable ways of changing your daily habits to keep you healthy and fit.

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