Employee health. Are they getting sick at home or at work?

With many people working longer hours and in some cases more than one job, the development of chronic diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and psychological illness may have its origins in the workplace.

Research has found that workers who are regularly exposed to hazardous working conditions, physically demanding tasks, high levels of stress and long working hours are more likely to consume risky levels of alcohol, reduce their level of physical activity to low, increase their likelihood of smoking and make poor nutritional choices. These habits can put strain on their overall health leading to an increased risk in chronic diseases and injuries on the job.

While these lifestyle choices may also be caused by outside factors (such as family or financial strain), the bottom line is that it impacts the employee, co-workers, workplace safety, workplace culture and business outcomes.

Could the health of your workforce be impacting your bottom line?

  • Healthier workers are almost three times more productive than their unhealthy counterparts.
  • On average, work related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work (almost four times higher than other injuries).
  • Any employees who are carrying excess weight and engaging in low levels of physical activity are more likely to be less productive and take more sick leave.


As you can see from the facts above, the health and wellbeing of your workforce can have a significant and very direct impact on productivity. While you can’t stop people getting sick, you can help them address health concerns when needed and implement healthy actions at work.  

Using the workplace as a setting for health promotion and education is a great way to help your employees lower their risk profiles for overall physical health as well as mental wellbeing. These types of initiatives also show your employees that they are valued and cared about which goes a long way.


Health by Design have a range of services, resources and programs that can help show employees the link between their actions at home, behaviours adopted at work and the risk of disease or injury due to those combined habits. Talk to us today about your workplace concerns.

Why walk or run? (aside from the fun)

“If exercise could be packed in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”

– Dr. Robert Butler, founder of the National Institute of Aging.


Aside from diet, exercise is an extremely important factor in longevity. A large study of over 600,000 people found that those doing the recommended amount of exercise had a 20% lower risk of death than those who were physically inactive.

But you don’t have to hit the gym. Walking and running are great ways to improve or maintain your health. They are activities which require minimal equipment, are free or low cost, and can be done almost anywhere at whatever pace you feel comfortable with.

Regular walking or running improves aerobic fitness which make them very beneficial for cardiovascular health. If you are new to exercise, then it doesn’t need to be vigorous or lengthy in order to improve your health. Some studies have shown that inactive people that begun low levels of exercise – around 75 minutes of walking per week – improved their fitness levels significantly.


Aside from cardiovascular fitness, regular weight-bearing aerobic exercise like walking and running can:

  • strengthen bones, posture, and balance.
  • help manage body fat.
  • boost muscle power and endurance.
  • improve the management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain.
  • reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.


You may have heard of these physical health benefits before. But did you know regular aerobic exercise like walking and running also induce many physiological and psychological changes which help your mental health? Some of these include:

  • changes in your brain which help you become more resilient to stress.
  • improvements in working memory, focus, and task-switching abilities.
  • enhanced sleep quality and ability to focus during the day.
  • improved mood and decreased depressive symptoms.


So now you know the why, how do you get started? Just like a toddler, you should walk before you run. For beginner walkers, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Walk short distances – start with a five-minute stroll and slowly increase your distance.
  • Forget about speed – start off walking at a comfortable pace. Focus on maintaining good posture, by keeping your head lifted and shoulders relaxed.
  • Swing your arms naturally and breathe deeply. If you can’t catch your breath, slow down or avoid hills.
  • Be sure that you can talk while walking. If you can’t speak, you are walking too fast.
  • Spend 15 minutes exercising during your lunch break. You’ll eat less while clocking up more active minutes.


Becoming physically active after the age of 40 can reduce your risk of heart disease by 55%, compared to those who had been inactive all their lives. Get walking (then running) to reduce your risk.


Our group exercise sessions or fitness-based competitions are a great way to promote physical activity and health and wellness while generating enthusiasm and enjoyment amongst your employees. Sessions cater for all levels of fitness and strength to help your employees meet their overall wellness goals. Contact us to learn more.

A small habit with big impact – enjoy more fruit and vegetables.

We all know that we should be eating more plant-based foods and less processed options, but it’s easy to dismiss the idea by convincing ourselves that we are just too busy. However, good health doesn’t have to be time consuming (or cost a lot of money).

When it comes to what you eat, studies by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have confirmed that frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. This means minimal waste, the capacity to eat produce out of season and, in some cases, you will actually be eating foods that contain more antioxidants and vitamins compared to fresh options.

When it comes to how much you eat, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables by just 50g (e.g., half a piece of fruit or 2/3 cup of veggies) a day is associated with a 20% reduction in cancer risk. Could you add this amount of fruit and vegetable to your daily food intake?

Read on to find out more about the power of fruit and vegetables.

Other benefits can you expect from boosting your fruit and veg intake:

  • Breathe easier. Eating five or more serves each day reduces your risk of lung disease by 35%.
  • Live longer. Eating just one-two pieces of fruit each day can reduce your risk of stroke by 40%.
  • Protect your mental wellbeing. Those who enjoy a Mediterranean diet have a 33% lower risk of developing depression in the future.
  • Boost your overall wellbeing. The fibre in fruit and vegetables keeps your bowel movements regular, assists in lowering cholesterol, regulates blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller for longer. This all helps to you feeling healthier, losing weight and eating less unhealthy food.
  • Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Eating a diet high in plant foods and low in animal foods is associated with a 20% lower risk of diabetes.

So now we know why we should eat more, how do we do it?

An easy way to get a good variety of fruit and vegetables is to think of colour. Eating all the colours of the rainbow will give you a great mix of all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant nutrients (called phytochemicals) needed for good health.  The more colours you eat, the healthier you will be!

In addition, try these tips to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your daily meals:

  • Add fruit to your breakfast cereal or include avocado or tomato with eggs.
  • Swap cheese and crackers for dip and vegetable sticks (e.g., carrot, capsicum, celery).
  • Add a side of salad to your lunch and dinner.
  • Have a piece of fruit for a snack instead of something processed (e.g., chocolate, potato chips).
  • Meal plan for the week ahead and do a food shop accordingly so you have everything you need for the meals.
  • Keep chopped vegetables in the fridge so they are ready to be added to meals.
  • Add grated carrot or zucchini to sauces (e.g., spaghetti bolognaise or lasagna sauce).


While you can’t force your employees to change what they eat, you can provide them with education about making healthier food choices. We take the hard work out of this task! Contact us today and we can work together to make a difference in the lives of your staff.