Physiotherapy, Physio, Pain, Chronic Pain

The Facts Behind Chronic Pain – Physiotherapy

THE FACTS BEHIND CHRONIC PAIN

As previously mentioned in my last blog, when the brain perceives you are in danger it calls upon many systems in its response to this discerned threat including:

  • The muscular system- run away, fight
  • The sympathetic system-increase heart rate, sweat
  • The immune system –promote healing, sensitise neurons
  • The endocrine system-reduce gut and reproductive activity

Together all these systems work together to get you out of trouble creating a pain experience, or motor experience or a stress experience.

When we initially injure our tissues we go through an immediate inflammatory response.  This initial inflammation is to be appreciated as the body’s immune and rebuilding cells are directed to the injured area. Give thanks, muchas gracias! Often pain is experienced here as the chemicals involved in inflammation can sensitise the nerve endings in the area. This causes a barrage of messages to be delivered to the brain. However, as the healing process continues the pain levels should drop as the inflammation subsides and the tissues heal.

Personal Health, Rathgar, Physio

 

Tissues!

Pain nearly always involves something going on in the tissues! Therefore, managing the tissues involved will help you manage your pain.  Understanding the processes behind the pain experience in both the brain and the tissues will provide you will enormous control in your pain experience. When pain persists past the natural healing time of the tissues we can say with certainty that the brain has concluded that a threat continues and that you still need protection and consequently pain. The central nervous system is highly adaptive and will respond to the demands it is placed under. If continued messages from a damaged, inflamed, scarred or weak tissue continue arriving, the brain gets more tuned to that zone and better at listening. It’s the continuous influx of messages that can lead to the brain ‘over-listening’ to that area and in turn over responding.

personal health, Dee Ryan, Physio,

 

When this happens you can become aware of more pain in areas that just hurt a little before, or areas that didn’t previously hurt at all now have started to hurt. Rather than calmly supervising the operations on the ground floor, the brain has now become a hyper-vigilant boss micromanaging every movement in that sector. The pain persists, spreads, perhaps worsens and now even small movements can become painful. This is an indication that the alarm system can become faulty.

                                                   Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 15.26.46

This enhanced sensitivity of the alarm system is nearly always a feature of ongoing pain. Due to this increase in sensitivity in the tissues, the brain is now acting on faulty information. It is no longer receiving accurate information about what is going on in the tissues. Consequently, the brain perceives that there is more danger in the tissues than is actually the case.  As a results the brains responses such as thoughts, beliefs, immune, muscular, endocrine are amplified and exaggerated. Oh my! At this stage brain in attempt to look out for you makes those body parts harder to use….does this sound familiar to you?

Contact us for more info….

For fear of over-informing I will leave you to digest the above information. In my next blog, I will explore further changes that can occur in the brain during chronic pain. As before, be a friend and tag a friend who you feel will benefit from further understanding the processes involved in the pain experience! For further information or to book an appointment with Dee, contact us at Personal Health on 416 4002.

Medically Led Fitness Osteoperosis Classes

Are you over 50 and looking to exercise?

Are you over 50 and looking to exercise?

Mid-life Fitness linked to less dementia in later life

A study published in Neurology , April 10, 2018 has presented findings which add to an ever growing body of research that connects heart health to brain health. High levels of cardiovascular fitness during middle age may lower the likelihood of dementia in later life. It appears that keeping fit in midlife is a sound strategy for arresting cognitive decline. 

The details of the study 

The recently published study asked 191 middle aged women to ride a bicycle until they were exhausted. The women were then grouped according to their peak cardiovascular capacity. Just 40 women met the criteria for high levels of fitness. 92 were in the medium category and 59 were in the low category. Here are the most interesting details of the study; Over the next 44 years, the women were tested for dementia 6 times. Five percent of the highly fit women developed dementia, compared with 25% and 32% respectively for those in the moderate and low fitness groups. According to these figures, highly fit middle aged women were 88% less likely to develop dementia than even the moderately fit women. 

Numbers 

These numbers are at once alarming and encouraging. While the numbers do not prove that high levels of fitness prevents dementia, they do show a hugely encouraging correlation between the two. By remaining highly fit in the middle age period, one has reduced the statistical likelihood of developing cognitive decline quite significantly. 

What can you do if you are ‘Middle-Aged’  and want to become fitter? 

If you are Middle-Aged (let’s suggest approximately 58) and want to become fitter , there are a multitude of simple practical things to consider. At www.personalhealth.ie we provide an initial assessment to find out your medical history, medications, injury history, functional movement screening and exercise history (if indeed there is one!). This assessment provides a baseline from which we can work from. Everybody has a different health/illness background, a different physical profile and differing levels of access, time and motivation. 

Barriers to exercise and improvement 

For the vast majority of our clients in Personal Health, they have overcome big barriers to even set foot inside our door. Examples of this may be a recent illness or injury, a chronic health issue or those dealing with progressive health conditions. Often they are working full time and trying to manage family demands, financial challenges and their own personal health. Two of the most common barriers to improving exercise (and therefore overall health) are accessibility and knowledge. 

Accessibility and Knowledge 

It is difficult to get immediate access to experienced healthcare professionals. Essentially the greater the levels of experience, it seems the more elusive they are. At personalhealth.ie we have arranged our schedules in a transparent way, shared with the public on our online booking system (insert link). Why not book an initial consultation now with one of our team, and begin that journey to better physical health, improved mental health and a longer term investment in protecting your cognitive health. 

Exercise, Gym, Physio, Tendons

Should I Exercise when injured? Ask the Physiotherapist

Should I Exercise when injured? Ask the Physiotherapist

Should I stay away from the Gym while I get better? Absolutely not!

A lot of our physiotherapy and exercise patients are concerned about abandoning their regular fitness regime, particularly when injured and experiencing pain. Let’s get one thing straight – the days of a physiotherapist suggesting you should avoid activity are long gone. You should most certainly continue turning up at the gym, in fact we’re probably going to push you there! We will simply look at tweaking some of the programme you are working through. While rest is always a good thing for the human body, strength and exercise are a vital component of rehabilitation.

Tendons respond to loading … But not too much!!

Tendon damage is a very frequent issue presenting in clinic at www.personalhealth.ie.

A tendon is where the muscle attaches to bone. If you imagine a juicy steak – the grizzly bits in by the bone are tendons. A juicy muscle belly is rich in blood vessels, which promote healing once our circulation is good. However the tendons (the grizzly bit) have less blood supply and therefore take longer to heal. Tendons do get better, no need for alarm. They are just a bit more complex. They respond to various forms of therapy and rehabilitation – one such approach is increased loading to help the healing process. Just not too much… and correct technique is vital.

Inflammation vs tissue damage

Tendons can be overworked or overloaded and as a result they become inflamed. There may not be actual tissue damage such as a partial tear/rupture. However, the inflammation caused by excessive loading can be a real irritation.

Running on a dodgy ankle

Think about some long distance running on a dodgy ankle. This might cause the achilles tendon to become inflamed – referred to as a tendinopathy. Sometimes the inflammation in the tendon is mechanical in nature. This means the problem is caused by incorrect mechanics when we run. The solution, while a very keen runner may not like to hear it, might be to reduce time on the road and go to the gym.

Strengthening and Lengthening

Strengthening and lengthening the damaged tissue is a key factor in rehabilitation. No better place than the gym for this. If you are worried about technique, frequency, sets, reps, loading, tempo, duration, rest or any of the above – we can help.

  • Firstly, we will walk you through the process in clinic.
  • Secondly, we will send on all the exercises from our video library
  • Thirdly, we can monitor your progress from afar, but with room for a helping hand
  • Finally, we will discharge you back to healthy happy living as soon as we possibly can

So in order to get yourself back out on the roads, or back in the gym, come to Personal Health….

Book Online here: https://personalhealth.janeapp.com/

 

Spine, Spinal Surgery, Rehab, Surgery, Physio, Rehabilitation, Fusion, Dublin

Recovery from Spinal Surgery – How can Physiotherapy help?

Recovery from Spinal Surgery – How can Physiotherapy help?

We often look after patients who are recovering from spinal surgery. There are many types of surgery and interventions that a spinal specialist will use to optimise the recovery of the patient – ranging from discectomy to rhizotomy, and decompression to fusion – the terminology can be confusing. What all orthopaedic and spinal specialists recommend however is a targeted and specific rehabilitation plan with a physiotherapist.

In patient recovery

Most surgical interventions see the patient getting out of bed independently less than 24 hours post surgery. On the hospital ward the Physiotherapists and the Nursing team work together to encourage as much movement as is recommended. This can be surprising for patients who have been dealing with acute and/or chronic back pain for a long period prior to surgery. The surgical approach of our spinal specialists these days has become so refined and skilful that the in-patient recovery time has significantly shortened in recent years. This is a big benefit for all concerned.

Outpatient recovery

After the patient is discharged from hospital, they will be armed with a small advice leaflet to maintain an adequate baseline of activity  – and this suffices for the initial 7-10 days post discharge.

After this the outpatient recovery ought to take on a more dynamic aspect as the rehabilitation progresses. The passage of time and long rest periods will indeed help in terms of tissue healing times. However an overly passive approach to back rehabilitation is not advised.

Spinal surgery patients at Personal Health

We have had a large amount of patients manage their journey to recovery in Personal Health. Some choose the clinic simply because of location, others because they feel reassured that we have experience. Word of mouth seems to be a deciding factor for many, as they have heard good reports. However for those undecided we can provide some further information.

The journey to an active lifestyle once again

The most obvious reason for spinal surgery is excessive pain levels. Often the pain has become so debilitating for people that their day to day function is simply no longer possible. The journey to living an active lifestyle once again is a rewarding one, but it takes some determination and patience. If one has chosen to go down the path of surgical intervention, why not optimise the outcomes?

From Purgatory to Heaven

We have a varied and fun (believe it or not) approach to rehabilitation. It ought not to feel like penance, rather an opportunity to move from Purgatory to Heaven. We use strengthening exercises for the lower limb – thighs and gluteal muscles in particular. Similarly, we look to improve range of motion either above or below the surgical site. This can involve the whole spinal column, divided into its component parts of lumbar, thoracic and cervical. Also the small matter of re-training countless postural muscles can be less like homework than it sounds.

The body is designed to move

While inhibited movement is a natural part of recovery, it is important to reduce our inhibitions around natural movement. Even post surgically, the spine remains a column of strong bone, connective tissue and muscle. The body is designed to move and rediscovering the joys of this is a great feeling for people in their rehabilitation.

To Book an appointment at pH ; Visit us online at www.personalhealth.ie or call 01 4964002

Shoulder, Injury, Fitness, Rotator Cuff

Have I Got a frozen Shoulder? Or is it a Rotator Cuff?

Have I Got a frozen Shoulder? Or is it a Rotator Cuff? – Physiotherapy

Frozen shoulders can be a complicated and very frustrating issue. Typically they can last for up to 18 months. The shoulder becomes very inactive and day to day function is compromised. It is not a common presentation in the clinic here. Often people are concerned they have developed a frozen shoulder. However it is more frequently an issue to do with rotator cuff damage, or a type of shoulder impingement, or both of these together.

What is Frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is medically termed as ‘adhesive capsulitis’. Fibrous adhesions start to develop within the shoulder joint and ultimately surround the shoulder capsule. The capsule itself becomes very inflamed – hence the ‘itis’ on the end of the word capsule. The result is significantly reduced shoulder function. Certain movements can cause sharp pain and as result the patient begins to move the joint less and less. It is best treated with injection therapy, some physiotherapy (aiming to preserve some range of motion), and in more acute cases there is surgical intervention. In the case of surgery the shoulder joint is manipulated under anaesthetic to restore greater movement. Although surgical intervention naturally cannot have a guaranteed success rate, it can provide a degree of improvement in the extremely frozen shoulder.

What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a grouping of soft tissue structures that protect and strengthen the shoulder joint. It is comprised of muscles and tendons including the Supraspinatus, Subscapularis, infraspinatus and Teres Minor. These surround and attach into various parts of the shoulder joint and the shoulder blade. The cuff gives stability in particular, however it is vulnerable to damage as we get older.

How the shoulder joint moves

The shoulder is a relatively vulnerable joint compared to some other major joints within the body. It moves in multiple directions – as opposed to the hip or knee. There is a higher incidence of shoulder dislocation for example, because of this greater level of movement. Essentially the joint moves in multiple directions; forwards,backwards, sideways and in a rotational fashion.

Some typical Examples

The majority of shoulder issues presenting in clinic here in Rathmines relate to the rotator cuff as opposed to a frozen shoulder. Very often our clients are unaware how the issue might have developed, as it can be a very innocuous incident which causes the initial damage. Some typical examples such as starting a lawn mower, pulling a heavy suitcase or simply out walking the dog on a lead can cause an initial tear to a tendon and the issue slowly escalates from there.

What we do to treat the issue

We do an initial assessment of the joint to find out what the specific issue is. We use a number of orthopaedic examination tests to get an accurate diagnosis, without need for MRI referral. Once we have a solid diagnosis, we then work on restoring range of motion to the damaged joint. We simultaneously work on improving stability and strength. Don’t worry, there’s not too much hardship and homework – we send on video exercises to our clients so they can work away on their own schedule as suitable.

 

To schedule an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists, jump straight to our booking system here or call 01 4964002.

 

Cancer, Exercise, Health, Fitness, Physio

Exercise for Cancer Patients – Physiotherapy

Exercise for Cancer Patients – Physiotherapy

The Guardian newspaper recently (7-5-18) discussed powerful evidence in relation to the benefits of exercise for cancer patients. The published research is from The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia. This research has helped to launch its position statement on the role of exercise alongside surgery, chemotherapy or radiation in cancer care.

Research gets widespread endorsement

The research is endorsed by a group of 25 influential health and cancer organisations, including Cancer Council Australia. It is the first researcher-led push, anywhere in the world, for exercise to be an essential component of treatment for cancer. Indeed the statement goes further, suggesting exercise should be prescribed to ALL cancer patients. Furthermore it states ‘not to do so would be harmful’. A definitive and powerful stance indeed.

Why Personal Health provides Exercise for Cancer patients

At Personal Health, we welcome the position taken by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia wholeheartedly. A number of our cancer patients have had great results with regular intensive exercise. Their positive experiences have included increased energy levels (or reduced fatigue), maintenance of weight and lean muscle mass, and improved mood. Overall there is an improvement in Quality of Life – and this is objectively measured as opposed to mere speculation.

Evidence is indisputable

The lead author of the research, Prof Prue Cormie from the Australian Catholic University, said the statement was based on “indisputable” evidence. “Really we are at the stage where the science is telling us that withholding exercise from cancer patients can be harmful,” Cormie said. Our philosophy in Personal Health has always promoted exercise as a form of medicine and rehabilitation for people living with prolonged health conditions. Our team of Chartered Physiotherapists & Occupational Therapy are passionate about providing insight and support for Cancer patients.

Exercise is Medicine

Professor Cormie is a huge advocate of exercise in general, and elaborated further in relation to cancer therapy. “Exercise is the best medicine someone with cancer can take in addition to their standard cancer treatments. That’s because we know now that people who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe treatment-related side-effects; cancer-related fatigue and mental distress. They also have a lower risk of their cancer coming back or dying from the disease’,

Lifestyle Change

At Personal Health, we apply the best evidence to help lifestyle change. A simple way to boost cancer survival rates is to improve diet and include regular exercise. It is simple in concept but difficult to implement regularly. We provide a helping hand, a support network at home or in clinic, and a familiarity with the challenges you face. Some patients have had to maintain lean muscle mass in order to optimise chemotherapy/radiotherapy, others have had to improve range of movement post surgery. There are lots of differing angles and solutions.

Professor Cormie agrees …

It seems Prof Cormie agrees with our approach and vice versa. ’If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, it would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment,”  

She further elaborated “If we had a pill called exercise it would be demanded by cancer patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist, and subsidised by government.”

Types of Cancer patients in Personal Health

To date we have worked with patients who have had Breast Cancer, Oesophageal and gastric cancer, Prostate and Bowel cancer. Based on the latest evidence above we see no reason to be exclusive just for these types of cancer. Our service provides benefit for all those dealing with the various difficulties on the journey to recovery.

We offer 10 physio-led exercise appointments for 500 Euro in a non-intimidating gym environment. This is covered under Chartered Physiotherapy in your Insurance Policy.

Call us now to find out more.

01 496 4002

www.personalhealth.ie

MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Exercise, Dietary, Physio

Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis…..and a bit more

We started our Exercise and Dietary programme for MS patients back in November 2017. We began with initial assessments whereby we spent time with people living with the condition. Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis is a key component of managing the neurological change. However it is not a stand alone requirement. Maintaining energy levels or combatting fatigue are a daily battle. We heard from contributors living with MS about the many challenges they face – and we also had a laugh…it’s not all misery!

The Challenge for healthcare providers

The challenge for healthcare professionals is to understand the condition in a multi factorial way. It is most important that the medical side communicates with the specialist neurological input. In turn it is imperative that both link in with the therapeutic services available. The golden nugget is that all work in tandem – wishful thinking? I don’t see why not. At Personal Health, we are communicating regularly with our local GPs and a number of innovative Neurologists who see great value in a community based approach.

The Challenge for the MS population

In clinic we have heard from a small section of the MS population about job related stress, family and relationship issues, emotional and physical fatigue. While lifting some dumbbells we have addressed fear, anxiety and resentment. We address fears around deterioration in general health (over a chocolate digestive or two). Generally though we just turn up regularly and allow the crew do their thing. They exercise with determination, question with a healthy scepticism and cut us in two with a sharp wit.

Shared experiences are positive

In Personal Health, our team includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy and a dietitian. We share the workload and our collective experience is working well together. For the participants, they are working pretty well together too. Physical issues from compromised vision to manual dexterity and urinary urgency are on the table – discretely. While nobody is shouting the roof down, there is comfort in shared knowledge and experience. There is comfort in laughter and comfort in the handrails on the wall. There is a strange comfort in Mark’s dulcet tones of instruction or Marion’s dodgy Spotify playlist. Most importantly there is a sense of empowerment about taking on MS for the participants.

Benefits and outcomes

We measure change in clinic based on our initial assessments. There is not always an improvement. Similarly there has been very little decline. With a progressive condition one of the best outcomes can be maintenance of the status quo. In our profession, there is a big emphasis on ‘outcome measures’ whereby data is used to measure clinical changes. This gives people feedback around changes in strength, endurance, fatigue and balance amongst other things. It gives us quantitative feedback too and in general the results have been rewarding for all concerned. We are all on this journey together, and it has been a great learning experience to date.

 

Exercise, fitness, ageing, arthritis, Lifestyle, Dublin 6

Physiotherapy – Motion is Lotion – the benefits of exercise for the over 70’s

Physiotherapy – Motion is Lotion – the benefits of exercise for the over 70’s

 

All the big Consultants we know very regularly use the phrase ‘wear and tear’! It’s a gentle way of talking about the decline of our once glorious body. Arthritis is not curable but it is absolutely manageable. The trick is to exercise correctly while simultaneously not antagonising the inflammatory joint. Movement is key and motion is lotion!

The over 70s lifestyle

A great number of our patients are of a certain age …. but who’s counting right?

What we can confirm apart from dubious birth certificates is that they are a smiling, well oiled vintage. Many of them are golfers, almost all of them are regular walkers. Some join exercise groups dotted around the community. These people are living busy lives, booking concert tickets on the Ipad, gardening and loving the sport on TV. The Grandchildren are beautiful but exhausting, and often that mayhem is followed by a well deserved glass of wine. Lets’s not forget the odd holiday or three … Vitamin D is good for the joints, the skin and the soul.

Motion is Lotion

There is one shared quality among this group who cross our threshold in Personal Health.

They are keeping active. A former P.E teacher from my schooldays had a phrase referring to healthy joints; ‘Motion is Lotion’. This was as relevant for teenage kids as it is now for the ageing population.  It makes perfect physiological sense. Regular activity at any age helps circulation within our joints. An oxygenated blood flow swishing it’s way through our spine, shoulders, hips and knees is all good news. But it is particularly relevant when we are getting older.

Move More or Move Less? ….Move Clever….

Movement, Hips, Arthritis, exercise, Fitness, Dublin, ageing

The magic of Jimenez…..aaaaaaannnd Stretch !!

With regular movement our joints begin to move more freely – regardless of previous injury or medical diagnosis. Let’s take the hip as an example. It is a joint that regularly succumbs to arthritic change as we get older. The natural tendency is to move less with arthritis present in the joint. This is often due to pain while weight bearing. It is a perfectly natural reaction to move less. Unfortunately this is the completely wrong thing to do and means the joint will only deteriorate quicker. We need to start moving clever without impacting the damaged part of the joint.

Non Impact Movement

One of the best remedies for joint pain is to move the joint in a non weight bearing way. Cycling (indoor exercise bikes or outdoors in the park) allows the hip joint to move without compressing the ‘wear and tear’ we referred to previously. Most importantly, it strengthens and lengthens the muscles that surround the joint. It is a positive cycle whereby the blood flow helps lubricate the joint. This in turn eases inflammation. As soon as we have facilitated greater movement, the joint has greater range. This means the muscles protecting the joint automatically get stronger while stretching and contracting with greater activity.

The Solution

Get active!! If you would like to choose Personal Health as your option, we will be waiting with open arms. There are comfy seats and tea on tap (post exercise) to recover and recuperate. We always have time for a few chats too. Hopefully see you soon!

Diabetes, Fitness, Exercise, Physio, Dietary, Dublin 6, Rathmines

The Personal Health Diabetes Programme

Everybody is scared at the start when it comes to embarking on a new journey! The Personal Health Diabetes programme is no different. We thought we were gentle, approachable, understanding and compassionate people!! But what we didn’t consider was that people with Type 2 Diabetes are petrified about making small changes in their lifestyle. Most participants have waited for years before contemplating and finally making some small changes. But they are all delighted once they start and most comment that they wish it happened sooner.

Guilt and Stigma

When we have got to know our participants after a few weeks, often people have mentioned carrying a guilt and stigma with them for developing a condition like Type 2 Diabetes. The condition is lifestyle related, so they feel they have let themselves down in some way. The reality here is that feelings of guilt and stigma are futile. What is important is to take action now and make small but attainable changes to your lifestyle. Former Chair of International Diabetes Federation, Dr Tony O’Sullivan has visited us here to assess the Personal Health Diabetes programme and was impressed, commenting  ‘This programme is suitable for anyone living with diabetes and will really contribute to better control of the condition’.

Sociable and Friendly

Our participants are a lovely sociable gang. 

Diabetes, Health, Fitness, Exercise, Dublin 6, Rathmines

They meet regularly on Tuesday afternoons in clinic and despite the chats and giggles, they get their work done. The fitness levels, size and shape differs from person to person but all are accommodated. The one non negotiable is that they do some good honest work, ending up a little sweaty and breathless (don’t worry nobody crawls out the door!).

What does Type 2 Diabetes programme involve?

Mark Hynes (Chartered Physiotherapist) is running the Type 2 Diabetes programme along with our Dietitian Caoimhe O’Leary. They are doing a brilliant job! 

Dietary, Dietitian, Diabetes          Diabetes, Fitness, Exercise, Physio, Dietary, Dublin 6, Rathmines

The programme involves turning up on Tuesday afternoons at 5pm. Once an initial screening is complete the client is cleared for progress and the fun begins. The exercise classes (4 per month) last approximately 40 minutes in total. Caoimhe also runs a monthly workshop discussing practical and non sacrificial changes to enable healthy eating.

What are the benefits?

Some people choose to test their progress every few months and this has given participants great feedback.  Some see changes in blood sugar levels. Others experience weight loss. Most improve on strength scores and stability. Others feel steadier on their feet and more confident. Most describe greater energy levels. Crucially, as healthcare professionals we see a group reducing the risks associated with the condition. It is a hugely rewarding experience for all concerned.

What do I wear, what do I do, what happens in general??

People tend to arrive a few minutes beforehand in comfortable, exercise clothing. For those arriving from work , there are clean and spacious changing rooms with showers and storage. During each class there is a warm up , some strength training, balance and co-ordination tasks, some short sharp bursts of activity (High Intensity Intervals), some stretching and functional movements, and plenty of advice about pacing yourself. Turn up people! You’ll be glad you did!

Wellbeing, Health, Corporate, Fitness, Dublin 6

Wellbeing Weeks and Fruit Friday’s don’t work!

Too often, we have seen the corporate wellbeing world be a storm in a teacup. ‘Wellbeing Weeks’ or ‘Fruit Friday’s don’t work! If your employees don’t feel valued, a guest speaker once a year and a free basket of fruit here and there, won’t change their productivity or happiness.

Stress is an enigma. we all know it’s there but we can’t always identify it. What does it look like ? Or how is it measured? We are in a data driven age and non measurables tend to be under valued.

In our experience dealing with the corporate wellbeing world, we have noticed that some issues repeatedly become a stumbling block. The ultimate goal is for wellbeing initiatives to actually improve wellbeing ! At the very least there ought to be a reduction in stress levels.

The problem for HR

In our experience, the difficulty for innovative and enthusiastic HR managers is implementation. That’s why initiatives like ‘Fruit Friday’ exists. It’s a gesture that can be achieved. It’s also coming from a very well meaning place.

But in a target driven environment, punctuated by End -of -Quarter stress avalanches, the wellbeing philosophy becomes a distant ideal. The idea that the Sales team might take a 30 minute break for a mindfulness session during the avalanche is outlandish.

Ironically, it might be the perfect time to do it, but let’s face it, it is highly unlikely.

Can Lifestyle change actually reduce stress?

Well in terms of exercise the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend 150 minutes of light exercise per week. This is a non specific recommendation, and indeed slightly less than 150 minutes can suffice if done at a moderate to vigorous intensity. Let’s not focus on the content for now. Let’s simply look at the duration;

  • 2 x 30 minute sessions in a week amounts to 1/168th of our week
  • A whopping 0.006% of our week !!

Time Management and Lifestyle Change

Can we spare 0.006% of our week to help reduce stress levels ? We all know we can. But we still regularly don’t. Perhaps we are not truly framing the benefits in a relevant way.

It can specifically improve our performance in work.

Neurological benefits are rarely highlighted, but the scientific community have proven that exercise can improve concentration, memory and decision making under pressure! How good is that ?!

Due to the vascular (blood vessels) change that occurs during/post exercise there is an associated change in blood flow inside the brain. Why not tap into this ?

Behavioural Change and Wellbeing

For the HR managers out there it is important to manage your own expectations and the barriers facing your implementation of wellbeing.

0.006% of the week doing exercise is of course achievable for your employees. However It may be time better spent to have a regular check in / reminder to simply encourage employees to adopt new behaviours. Ultimately they have to do the exercise themselves. So, raising awareness about lifestyle benefits can be a powerful message if done in a strategic way. It gently lets your most important resource (your people) know that you value their lives outside of the job, and you value their time while on the job. You don’t have to provide the actual activity for lifestyle change, you just have to constantly encourage the change in behaviour.