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.

Where’s your head at? Keeping your mind on task.

It can be hard to stay focused throughout the day at work. This can be particularly problematic in jobs that have dangerous, even fatal, outcomes if you lose concentration.

A 2018 survey revealed that nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70%) admit they feel distracted at work, with 16% of people stating that they’re almost always distracted (Udemy: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report).

The answer to this problem is to improve focus in work zones. Here are some general tips for improving focus and concentration at work:

  • At the start of the day, make a list of all the tasks you aim to get done. Rank these in terms of priority and tackle the most important tasks first, when energy levels are optimal.
  • Set aside time to refocus. Doing a small action like taking a walk, making yourself lunch, or getting a coffee can help improve brain function and concentration.
  • Find a routine that works for you. Everyone accomplishes their best work at different times of the day to others. Find when you are your most productive and do challenging and dangerous tasks at that time. Repeating this routine every day can help you get into the habit of focusing on this work when you most need to concentrate.
  • Minimise online distractions. This can include email, phone calls, and checking social media. When you start an important task, let people know you are unavailable and turn your electronics to silent.
  • Drown out noise. Studies show that listening to music that you know and really enjoy can be distracting. So instead choose music or premade playlists that you are less familiar with, or otherwise instrumental songs or ‘white noise’ apps.
  • Focus on one task at a time. Research shows that the human brain is not wired to do more than two tasks at once. Multitasking splits our maximum level of attention between multiple activities, meaning neither activity is receiving our full attention. This can be dangerous in the case of handling heavy machinery. Instead, aim to work sequentially through your tasks throughout the day.

Another important aspect of your ability to concentrate is your mental and physical health. Always aim for 7 hours of sleep each night, stick to nutritious meals, limit caffeine and take active breaks.

In hazardous workplace environments, it is particularly dangerous if employees struggle with concentration. Focused workers are more productive, make fewer mistakes, and are less likely to be involved in accidents. Some tips that are particularly important in these environments include:

  • Limit distractions: in hazardous warehouse or factory environments, employee focus must be on their task, and the safety of their co-workers. Common distractions can include workplace chat, mobile phones, other personal technology, and workplace noise. Policies should be implemented to limit these distractions where possible.
  • Take regular breaks: long spells of work and continuous repetitive tasks lead to weariness and increase the risk of loss of concentration. Employees should be encouraged to take regular breaks, allowing for mental relaxation and recovery.


Create greater safety awareness amongst your employees through our comprehensive programs, tailored to your industry, people and specific job tasks. We can help you target the injury risk areas that are hurting your staff and your business the most.

Strategies to manage the top three mental health risks in the workplace.

A person’s mental health affects the way they function, especially in the workplace. Recently, Gallup Australia delivered its 2023 State of the Australian and New Zealand Workplace report. The findings in this report identified some worrying stats.

These include five out of 10 Australians are experiencing ‘a lot of stress’ at work, while 67% are ‘quiet quitting’ and only 20% are thriving.

To help counter these issues, below are some strategies that can help you manage various mental health risks in the workplace:

Stress – Nearly 79% of employees experience workplace stress, making it the most common mental health risk. Stress born out of conflict within the workplace can lead to headaches, for example, and long hours can lead to insufficient rest.

One management technique encouraged by experts is to observe transparency in the workplace. Encourage employees to bring up their concerns, such as impossible deadlines or uncooperative teammates. This will allow you to make the necessary changes to ensure a positive and productive working environment. If they’re new to the position or project, also grant them sufficient time to adjust to the workflow. Don’t expect big things on Week 1.

Burnout – Burnout has many causes but the two most common ones are heavy workloads and lack of control. Heavy workloads or unrealistic deadlines leave employees feeling overwhelmed. A lack of control over their schedule or assignments results in a sense of helplessness and quickly erodes employee motivation.

Organisationally, you can help prevent burnout with appropriate leave policies and allowing people to have some flexibility in their schedules or where they work. It can also pay to educate employees about personal strategies to manage their stress and energy by adopting smart health and recovery behaviours such as taking breaks, short walks, exercise, or breathing exercises. If employees are already suffering from burnout, understand that it is a legitimate physical and psychological condition and consider options to reassign them to lighter tasks and projects at least until they recover.

Presenteeism – Presenteeism is the act of coming to work despite being ill or distracted, resulting in a less productive day. According to management consultants, presenteeism usually happens when a company has limited or no paid sick days and unrealistic expectations for its employees.

To avoid this, establish and communicate clear policies. Let your workers know the amount of sick leave they have, and any other factors that can allow them to be excused from work. You can also avoid presenteeism by setting a good example. If you come to work when you’re sick, they may expect that they need to do the same.

Mental health risks in the workplace affect your business and employees at multiple levels, and as such, a layered approach to managing them by looking at policies, culture and individual education can help to avoid problems and secure your employees’ overall wellbeing and performance.

Health by Design’s proactive programs can help employers manage mental health and performance risks. From specialist executive programs to total population solutions, we help empower employees to better understand and manage their personal health, energy, and performance. Contact us to learn more.


Written for HBD International by Amy Copley.

Top tips for a healthy festive season.

The festive season can be full of late nights, travelling and overindulging, all of which can impact your physical and mental health. Keep our top tips in mind this holiday season and shine a little brighter.

Tip #1 – Make some time for shut-eye. When stress and anxiety mount during the festive season, it can be hard to fall or stay asleep. But good quality shut eye can calm frazzled nerves. Put your worries out of your mind before you climb into bed. At least an hour before bed:

  • Make a list of any worries or concerns.
  • Write down the tasks that you’re worried will go undone.
  • Put the list in a safe place until morning.

Aim for seven hours of sleep each night for good physical and mental health.

Tip #2 – Keep an eye on your alcohol intake. As your body processes alcohol, you lose fluids and electrolytes causing your body to dehydrate. This is what makes the hangover the next day feel even worse. To avoid dehydration, make sure you alternate between one serve of alcohol and one glass of water. Also make sure you eat a nutritious meal before a big night out.

Tip #3 – Eat well as often as you can. Researchers have identified that weight gained over the holiday period is rarely lost. In addition, an Australian study by Nutrition Australia identified Aussies will gain an average of 0.8 – 1.5kgs over this period(1), thanks to larger portion sizes, more alcohol consumption and a larger range of calorie-dense foods. Try these simple tips to stay healthy during the silly season:

  • Avoid going to parties hungry. Before the party eat something light. Think apple, yoghurt or wholegrain sandwich with chicken.
  • Don’t try to lose weight over the Christmas season. Instead, aim to maintain your current weight.
  • Watch your portion sizes. If your willpower is weak and you know you will want to finish everything in front of you, use an entrée plate instead of a dinner plate. That way you are sure to eat less.
  • Fill up with foods from the BOTTOM layer of the Healthy Living Pyramid. These foods include vegetables, fruit, legumes, rice, pasta and cereals.
  • Watch what you drink. There are hidden kilojoules in both the mixer and alcohol in drinks, so keep tabs on how much you are drinking and be aware of the extra kilojoules.


Tip #4 – Keep on moving.  Currently, there is no other ‘medicine’ with greater benefits for the body than physical exercise. This party season, balance those nights out and office lunches with some physical activity. Try to exercise in the morning, before the family or work gatherings start, so you can relax and enjoy the day. The festive season is also the perfect time to use your family and friends to help keep you motivated, so invite them along.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Team Health by Design!

References: (1) – SBS –https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2019/12/09/heres-easy-proven-way-prevent-gaining-weight-these-holidays


Safe Work Month is now on. Working together to ensure a safe workspace for all.

October is National Safe Work Month, an initiative that prioritises the safety and wellbeing of all Australians in the workplace. This campaign, founded by Safe Work Australia, aims to raise awareness about the importance of work health and safety (WHS) and provide resources outlining how businesses and individuals can prioritise their safety and wellbeing.

The overarching goal of Safe Work Month is to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities and foster a safe work culture. Safe Work Australia data reveals that around 169 people died doing their job in 2021, and 130,195 workers made serious workers’ compensation claims in 2020-2021. Safe Work Month represents an ongoing commitment to promoting safe work practices.

This year, two key focus areas are:

  1. Working together to protect workers’ mental health. Protecting workers’ mental health is just as important as protecting their physical health. Psychosocial hazards are hazards that can cause psychological harm, such as anxiety or depression, and can include hazards such as intense job demands, remote or isolated work or workplace conflict. Psychological harm can have serious consequences if left unchecked and it is important that workplaces comply with the psychosocial hazards Code of Practice.
  2. Working together to support all workers. All workers have a right to be safe at work. When promoting safety at work, it’s important to consider the needs of all workers. This includes understanding how to support and address factors that may put some workers at higher risk of harm than others. Factors such as age, background, work contract and work isolation can all contribute to how at risk a worker might be to physical or psychological harm.

It is the responsibility of the workplace to foster a safe environment and empower their employees to promote a healthy workplace. Implementing robust safety policies, providing necessary training and fostering a safe work culture can help business owners reduce the risk of workplace injury.

Safe Work Month is a powerful reminder that safety is a shared responsibility, whether you’re an employer, employee or external stakeholder. Actively striving for a safe workplace environment and supporting the Safe Work Month campaign contributes to the broader goal of making workplaces across Australia safer and healthier.

For more information about creating a healthy workplace, visit www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/national-safe-work-month or contact us about our workplace programs and services.

Physical and Mental Wellbeing in Trades

Being a tradie is a demanding job and can be both mentally and physically taxing. This month, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has developed the Tradies National Health Month, with the goal to focus on the health and wellbeing of Australian trade workers.

The time taken off work by tradies due to poor physical health or injury not only affects the tradies themselves, but it can impact their families, businesses, communities, and long term health. Despite tradies constituting 30% of the workforce, they are disproportionately represented in work-related injury statistics. One recent survey organised by the APA revealed that tradies account for:

  • 60% of all injury and musculoskeletal disorders across all occupations
  • 39% of all medical conditions across all occupations
  • 40% of serious claims for upper limb injuries (i.e., hands, wrist, elbow, shoulder)


In addition to these stats, 69% of tradies believe that being sore is a normal part of their work and 60% often report aches and pains due to work. Left untreated, small aches and pains can lead to more serious chronic conditions that can impact a tradie’s ability to work and be healthy. Due to these physical demands, the Tradies National Health Month initiative is raising awareness by encouraging individuals and businesses to prioritise the physical health of tradies.

In addition to the physical toll of trade work, tradies have also reported that their work can impact their mental health. 1 in 4 (25%) tradies experienced mental illness, which is higher than the Australian average of 1 in 5 (20%) individuals. An alarming statistic from a recent study revealed that Australian construction workers are 70% more likely to take their own lives than employees in other industries. This statistic is even higher among young tradesmen. The discussion of mental health is still regarded as somewhat taboo, with 21% of tradies believing their coworkers will think they are “soft” if they complain about being sore on the job. This culture, on top of long hours, physically demanding tasks, and unforgiving weather conditions, can leave tradies feeling tired, lonely, burnt out, and disconnected from friends and family. Ignoring these feelings can lead to tradies facing more severe mental health disorders down the road.

Under Work, Health, and Safety laws, it is the duty of care of the business to manage risks of both physical and psychological harm to their workers. While the workplace has a responsibility to protect their employees, there are also some steps tradies can follow to prioritise their physical and mental health.

Some tips to maintain good physical health, both onsite and off, include the following:

  1. Stretching: Stretching has a range of health benefits, including increasing your range of motion, improving your posture, increasing blood flow to your muscles, and preventing injury and back pain. 5-10 minutes of stretching before and after work can hugely benefit your physical health down the line.
  2. Fuel your body correctly: This means drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious food throughout the day.
  3. Take frequent breaks: Pushing yourself too hard without proper breaks can affect your concentration and energy levels. This increases the risk of making mistakes, which can put yourself and others in harm’s way. This is especially important if the task requires a lot of lifting and/or physical work.
  4. Get plenty of sleep: Aim for a consistent 7-10 hours of sleep per night. Getting quality sleep is vital for your physical and mental wellbeing, as it resets your mind and repairs your body.


In addition to these steps, it’s important to stay physically fit to meet the demands of work without it impacting your physical health. While tradies may be very physically active throughout the workday, strengthening other muscle groups will reduce the overall risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Physical abilities can also diminish with age, so maintaining physical capacity through exercise is important.

In addition to maintaining physical health, there are also steps that can be taken to support mental health. Below are some simple steps to help create a psychologically safe environment.

  1. Look out for your mates: It is sometimes noticeable when a co-worker or friend is not quite themselves. Co-workers who seem stressed, irritable, or have poor concentration or memory may be struggling. Identifying this and asking them if they are ok is a good way to let them know you’ve got their back.
  2. Start a conversation: It can be difficult for tradies to open up when they feel their work environment encourages them to “just get on with it”. This kind of thinking can be harmful and it can make a big difference to start a tough conversation by asking someone about their wellbeing. Any temporary awkwardness is worth the positive impact it can have down the line.
  3. Take care of yourself: Make sure to prioritise your own mental health. Make time for whatever it is that makes you happy, whether it’s going to the gym, hanging out with friends, or spending time on hobbies. Most importantly, if you are going through a difficult time, it is important to open up to friends and family because keeping silent can make things worse.
  4. Seek professional help: While there can be stigma to seeking out help, it is one of the most powerful and helpful things you can do if you are struggling with mental health. If you are unsure how to go about this, a conversation with a GP is a great way to start. Health professionals are trained to handle mental health concerns and can give you the support you need.


It is important for tradies to prioritise their mental and physical health to ensure a safe workplace as well as a long, healthy career. Starting conversations around physical and mental health is the first step in reversing the current statistics and improving workplace culture.