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Almost a quarter of British women are obese, and nearly as many men, according to the European health interview survey published by the EU’s statistical office Eurostat.
But we’re getting the focus wrong. Obesity isn’t what’s robbing us of good health and life. Using data from the Cooper Centre Longitudinal Studyexercise scientist Steven Blair and his colleagues have established that you can be fat and fit. It is better to be overweight and active than normal weight and sedentary in terms of risk of mortality, the research has shown.
Blair calls physical inactivity the biggest public health problem of the 21st century. Yet instead of paying attention to our sedentary lifestyles, we keep on focusing on fatness. As individuals, we just can’t resist stepping on the scales and it’s a staple of weight-loss programmes. Physical activity is almost always a secondary consideration, and then only because of its power to help us lose weight. This narrow focus is repeated in campaigns and the media, but the obsession with how much people weigh and how much they need to lose just isn’t helping us lead longer and healthier lives, or reducing the burden on the health service.
Campaigns such as the government’s Change4Life initiative combine diet advice and alcohol tracking with activity suggestions, but the message needs to be far more straightforward. Forget berating young and old for their eating habits and what the scales are saying, and give them the much more appealing solution that physical activity is the way to a longer, healthier life.
If you offered people a drug that would confer these benefits with no side-effects, you would be trampled in the rush. A pill that promised the same effect as just 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each day would make headlines around the world. Yet because it’s not a new miracle cure on the market, and it’s not a mythical superfood, it’s not news at all. But the evidence is there. Physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers and even delay cognitive decline. According to Karim Khan, editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, you probably need to be doing 60 minutes a day for optimum health (after which time there are diminishing returns health-wise). If we’re going to pick a health issue to be fascinated by, isn’t this the one?
It isn’t about getting everyone running marathons, or setting aside the time and money they don’t have to go to the gym every day. For many, these are the unattainable goals that lead to a sense of failure, and send us right back down the cul-de-sac of putting all the emphasis on losing a few pounds because a pleasing result on the scales gives us a moment’s relief from our internal nagging, and that of society as a whole.
Instead, we need to put back the activity that modern life has removed into our daily routines. Making up our half an hour of not being sedentary does take an effort, but at least it can be achieved in manageable 10-minute blocks, can be made part of life without having to find fresh hours in the day – and above all has the merit of being in our control. A positive goal is always going to be far more attractive than nagging people about their eating habits, or pointing out the excess flesh.
So the problem then becomes how do we set realistic activity goals and more importantly how do we track and monitor what activity we are doing throughout a day. This is where Step Success intervenes, we specialise in accurate activity traking allowing users to set their own activity goals, track all their daily activity and view their results via our easy to use application. But we don’t stop there you can also share your progress with others, challenge friends to custom build competitions and pick up useful tips and activity programmes from our video library.
Step Success was invited by our partners FitLinxx to speak at the Improving Public Health event held at the Barbican in London on October 13th. Managing Director Joel Campbell supported FitLinxx by speaking during a masterclass specifically aimed at demonstrating working examples of physical activity-based wellness programmes delivered to different inactive populations. Step Success has many examples of our health and wellbeing interventions helping companies, organisations, schools and colleges to become healthier and more active as well as enjoying the fun challenge elements we have to offer.
The conference boasted some big speakers in the health world including Dr Geof Rayner, Jo Webber, John Wilderspin, Oswin Baker, Paul Stonebrook and Paul Jarvis. Each of these added their own perspective and speciality to the subject of improving public health, with all agreeing on one main theme – co-operative working and building partnerships between the NHS and other organisations to deliver health improvements to individuals.
For Step Success this was great news, as that’s exactly what we do: educate individuals to live healthier, longer and more fulfilled lives. The challenge is to develop partnerships between organisations and we are happy to report that during the conference we met lots of like-minded organisations with whom we hope to partner in the future to deliver an even better service to you.
Our masterclass quickly filled up and soon there were people standing at the back of the room and even queuing outside to get in. Unfortunately our attendance limit was 120, so some people did get turned away and were unable to listen and see the great session that ensued. Our MD received a warm welcome when he stood up to deliver the Step Success methods. Although we deliver our programmes and interventions to a number of clients, on this occasion we chose to focus on just one due to time restrictions. Joel presented one of our bigger interventions with Network Rail, showing how we had embedded a wellness culture into their working environment and how the senior team buy-in had been crucial to the success of the programme.
Joel also spoke about the importance of individual health and how this reflects on the working day and productivity, including the financial benefits to an organisation through reduced absenteeism as a result of putting in place wellness strategies for their employees. Those who attended the masterclass had an opportunity to raise questions at the end, which resulted in a number of interesting issues being discussed. Audience members were then offered the opportunity to take away some of the activity tracking devices we use in our programmes and interventions to try for themselves. This again proved a popular move and a line quickly formed at the front.
It was a great day of meeting with like-minded individuals and companies with a view to building future partnerships to help improve health agendas. We very much look forward to delivering another masterclass next year.
Step Success is pleased to publish our first weight loss case study, showing how to lose weight the Step Success way.
Estelle is 41 years old and weighed 14½ stone on starting the Step Success programme. Estelle’s aim is to lose 1½ stone in six weeks.
Estelle is a hairdresser who owns her own salon and spends the majority of the day on her feet cutting people’s hair. Although she spends most of her time standing up she is unable to be particularly active due to the nature of her job. Estelle has two children aged 6 and 11, both of whom keep her active when she is not at work, whether this be driving them around, tidying the house, gardening or tending to their horses.
Over the past few years Estelle has tried different diet and weight management programmes, with variable success. On every occasion she ultimately regained the weight she’d managed to lose. The main problem Estelle found was the inability to track how active she was each day or know how many calories she was burning, information around which she could build a routine.
When Estelle started on the Step Success programme she was able to easily track her daily activity. She was able to see, in detail, how many steps she took each day, how many calories she burnt, the distance she was covering and for how long she was active. With this information Step Success was able to support Estelle by showing her accurate, easy-to-understand, accessible activity data, which she could use to keep herself on track. Using the Step Success application and activity tracking tools Estelle was able to ensure she kept to the daily targets pre-set by Step Success during the registration process.
Estelle had been set targets including how many steps to complete each day, how many calories to burn and for how long she should be active. These targets have gradually been increased as Estelle loses weight which has been the key to her progress and success. She is now just two weeks away from reaching her desired weight and has enjoyed every minute of the Step Success programme.
“Using Step Success has changed my life; I have used diet programmes before but nothing as fun and easy, while delivering fantastic results. I made the decision to use the Step Success programme as I was constantly tired and found it hard to keep up with two children and my daily routine. Now I am running circles around the children and my husband barely recognises me. I am really looking forward to the next two weeks and hitting my weight loss goal. I have enjoyed the Step Success experience so much that I will continue to use it forever and am even considering getting my husband and children involved as I can compete and share my success with them.”
The health of the UK workforce is vital to the economy and to society. It will be critical to the UK’s competitiveness as we emerge from recession. The Confederation of British Industry estimates that every year sickness absence costs the economy nearly £17 billion. The costs to society are even greater.
With health care costs continuing to rise at alarming rates, it’s more important than ever before to keep your employees healthy. Corporate wellness programmes can help you do just that. Wellness programmes cater for all manner of health and lifestyle problems. The aim is to promote healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the amount of medical attention required.
Wellness programmes can cover a broad range of healthcare initiatives, from nutritional advice and exercise programmes to medical cover. In terms of the office environment their effectiveness is simple – a healthy employee is, on the whole, a happy employee, and a happy employee equates to maximised performance.
Nearly 80% of people of working age spend on average 37% of their waking hours in the workplace, for around 40 years, making the workplace an ideal setting to address health issues and promote healthier lifestyles.
All manner of health and lifestyle problems can be catered for. The aim is to promote healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the amount of medical attention required. Health insurance premiums are rising every year to the point where employers have to find new ways to reduce their health expenses. Wellness programmes have shown incredible returns and remarkable results – health costs for those companies using them are significantly reduced.
At STEP SUCCESS we understand that your wellness programme is a long term investment in your most valuable asset – your employees.
Each business has different employees with individual needs at various stages of health and wellbeing. At STEP SUCCESS we recognise this and build your wellness strategy to match your organisation and employee requirements.
STEP SUCCESS uses a tried and tested method to build and implement your wellness strategy across your organisation, ensuring it’s embedded firmly into your culture. Our methods are straightforward and extremely effective. We have helped organisations of various sizes and sectors improve their employees’ health and ultimately their bottom line.
STEP SUCCESS knows Healthy Employees = Healthy Business
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