Sit less – move more – is it really that serious an issue?

Workplaces leave us exposed to certain conditions / environments for long periods of time over our lifetimes. This accumulative effect of repetition can leave us vulnerable – the same thing, over a long period of time across years and years.


Been born and raised in an ex mining area South East of Wakefield the accumulative effective of my Grandads’ work exposure (down the pit) was respiratory; COPD which ultimately took his life. It is an obvious link to make when looking at the mining environment, dust and little protection against the environment in terms of PPE etc. We didn’t have the knowledge we do now.


We are now armed with so much more knowledge than years gone by and our work environments have improved dramatically from health and safety processes, safety equipment in more manual jobs to plush offices with lots of great facilities.


In a service economy we know that a lot of our work consists of sitting down for long periods of time. Married up to an inactive lifestyle outside of work this provides the perfect storm for negative health consequences to settle in.


The average UK Worker according to a survey by AXA in 2017 revealed on average we sit for 9 hours day. That’s the equivalent of flying long haul to Barbados (4208 miles from the UK) – EVERYDAY. Imagine a day in the office is equivalent to a long haul flight 5 days a week when we know all about the danger of sitting down for long periods in flight.


Space can tell us something too and NASA have some great literature on the effects of limited movement without gravity has on the body. Without this magical resistance around us called gravity the body suffers quite substantially. Yet if we don’t move enough on earth we are replicating these negative effects in Space over a longer period of time e.g. muscle loss.


(3) NASA found that maintaining strong muscles is a big enough challenge on Earth. It is much harder to do in space where there is no gravity.  Calf muscles biopsies before flight and after a six months mission on the ISS show that even when crew members did aerobic exercise five hours a week and resistance exercise three to six days per week, muscle volume and peak power both still decrease significantly.


Working with the strength for life team in Sheffield there is a huge evidence base telling us that maintaining muscle mass through loading up the body with weights (controlled and progressive weight training appropriate to the individual) is a huge asset in your arsenal against illness, recovering from illness and quality of life later in life.


Simply moving acts as a conditioning tool for whole body systems – too many to list. Be rest assured the evidence is irrefutable and those small regular moving habits within your day are key to improving health and fighting against our inactive lifestyles. Walking over to your colleague’s desk instead of using instant messaging etc all help. Lunch time walks and walking meetings are culturally hard to get in to the habit of doing but are so important.


  1. Braun Medical in Sheffield have embedded physical activity into their employee wellbeing programme helping them foster a cultural movement amongst employees to be conscious of moving more. On the business side of things it helps make a dent in absences due to inactive lifestyles but also acts as key indicator of investing in staff and health.

B health image green smaller (2)

And the benefits of moving more don’t just stop at just physical benefits. ”Sitting down can limit the fresh blood and oxygen going to the brain, meaning it can decrease levels of our ‘feel-good’ hormones, endorphins, and slow your brain function,” explained Iley (University of Chester), “It has an impact on your mental wellbeing, not just your physical health.”(4)


The NHS (2) is also churning out information linked to sitting down too much. The NHS knows that by reducing incidences of conditions directly attributed to physical inactivity (e.g. diabetes) it can prevent an influx of hospital admissions and reduce resource / financial spend.

The difficulty is where does the responsibility land? Many would argue the individual – and to some degree that could be a valid answer. But factors such as built environment, technology, convenience, the way we travel and commute and our external stressors all play a part in our choice to be more active.


Move More (1) is Sheffield’s plan to become the most active City in the UK by 2020 working with partners such as Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, Westfield Health, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine and a network of partners.


It works across every sector including the business community, Education, community and acts as a lever to influence the way the City develops around embedding physical activity opportunities in everyday life.

In workplaces initiatives such as the workplace challenge have aimed at injecting fun into moving more by challenging employees to move more via an internet based workplace challenge platform used as an engagement tool to cascade the move more message communications and to find out who is the most active workplace in Sheffield revealed at an awards ceremony,

Locally based initiatives have been developed too including encouraging people to use the stairs over the lift using communications at ‘point of decision’ locations; lift or stairs, to nudge people toward stair use. This has been bolstered by lunchtime briefings for employees on the benefits of physical activity and strength training on reducing and managing (5) Musculoskeletal conditions (a top UK cause of absence)


Other initiatives have seen love to ride (7) and Inmotion (6) – a travel project – work with business specifically on supporting more active travel commutes to help build cycling or walking and public transport through local campaigns such as “little Big changes’ and the love to ride prize based cycle challenge.



Sheffield business can benefit from International expertise around this key public health priority by getting involved in the move more plan, receiving support through myself working in the City, gain access to resources and additional bespoke move more health products, services and resources.  The City wants to move more, we want you to move more and your health wants you to move more. Sheffield a City together in activity.


  5. guccounter=1&guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_cs=OgP6kEMwSO_rrtZlnqLdiA



Fit bit reveals by David Pogue


Exclusive: Fitbit’s 150 billion hours of heart data reveal secrets about health

For something as important as heart health, it’s amazing how little you probably know about yours.

Most people probably get their heart rates measured only at doctor visits. Or maybe they participate in a limited study.

But modern smartwatches and fitness bands can track your pulse continuously, day and night, for months. Imagine what you could learn if you collected all that data from tens of millions of people!

That’s exactly what Fitbit (FIT) has done. It has now logged 150 billion hours’ worth of heart-rate data. From tens of millions of people, all over the world. The result: the biggest set of heart-rate data ever collected.

Fitbit also knows these people’s ages, sexes, locations, heights, weights, activity levels, and sleep patterns. In combination with the heart data, the result is a gold mine of revelations about human health.

Back in January, Fitbit gave me an exclusive deep dive into its 6 billion nights’ worth of sleep data. All kinds of cool takeaways resulted. So I couldn’t help asking: Would they be willing to offer me a similar tour through this mountain of heart data?

They said OK. They also made a peculiar request: Would I be willing to submit a journal of the major events of my life over the last couple of years? And would my wife Nicki be willing to do the same?

We said OK.

Oh boy.

About resting heart rate

Before you freak out: Fitbit’s data is anonymized. Your name is stripped off, and your data is thrown into a huge pool with everybody else’s. (Note, too, that this data comes only from people who own Fitbits — who are affluent enough, and health-conscious enough, to make that purchase. It’s not the whole world.)

Most of what you’re about to read involves resting heart rate. That’s your heart rate when you’re still and calm. It’s an incredibly important measurement. It’s like a letter grade for your overall health.

“The cool thing about resting heart rate is that it’s a really informative metric in terms of lifestyle, health, and fitness as a whole,” says Scott McLean, Fitbit’s principal R&D scientist.

For one thing — sorry, but we have to go here — the data suggests that a high resting heart rate (RHR) is a strong predictor of early death. According to the Copenhagen Heart Study, for example, you’re twice as likely to die from heart problems if your RHR is 80, compared with someone whose RHR is below 50. And threetimes as likely to die if your RHR is over 90.

Studies have found a link between RHR and diabetes, too. “In China, 100,000 individuals were followed for four years,” says Hulya Emir-Farinas, Fitbit’s director of data science. “For every 10 beats per minute increase in resting heart rate, the risk of developing diabetes later in life was 23 percent higher.”

So what’s a good RHR? “The lower the better. It really is that simple,” she says.

Your RHR is probably between 60 and 100 beats a minute. If it’s outside of that range, you should see a doctor. There could be something wrong.

(The exception: If you’re a trained athlete, a normal RHR can be around 40 beats a minute. If you’re Usain Bolt, it’s 33.)

Regular exercise is good for your heart, of course. But all kinds of other factors affect it, too, including your age, sex, emotional state, stress level, diet, hydration level, and body size. Medicines, especially blood-pressure and heart meds, can affect it, too. All of this explains why RHR a good measure of your overall health.

Fitbit’s data confirms a lot of what cardiologists already know. But because the Fitbit data set is ridiculously huge, it unearthed some surprises, too.

“I was a researcher in my past life,” says McLean. “You would conduct an experiment for 20 minutes, then you’d make these huge hypotheses and conclusions about what this means for the general population. We don’t have to do that. We have a large enough data set where we can confidently make some really insightful conclusions.”

Women vs. men, young vs. old

The first observation from Fitbit’s data: Women tend to have higher resting heart rates than men.

Your heart speeds up until middle age — and then, weirdly, slows down.
Your heart speeds up until middle age — and then, weirdly, slows down.

“Because women tend to be smaller,” says Emir-Farinas, “their heart is smaller, and the heart needs to work harder to make sure that blood is circulating and it’s being provided to all vital organs.”

What’s weird, though, is that your RHR goes up as you approach middle age, and then goes down again later — and that’s something scientists hadn’t witnessed with such specificity before the Fitbit study. “This has never been reported before in the medical literature with such confidence,” says McLean.

So what’s going on? Why does your heart rate increase as you approach your late 40s?

Well, one big reason might be having kids. You get busy. You eat junkier food. You exercise less. You’re more stressed out.

And, of course, everybody’s metabolism naturally slows down — that’s why so many people gain weight around middle age. “Also, the heart itself is changing,” says McLean. “The muscle becomes weaker. Each time we contract, less blood goes into the heart.”

All of that means that that your heart has to work harder — and your RHR goes up.

OK, fine. But then why does your heart rate drop after middle age?

“We think some of the decline is attributed to the use of beta blockers and calcium channel blockers” — blood-pressure and heart-attack medicines — “because 30% of adults in the U.S. have hypertension,” says Emir-Farinas.

Otherwise, the Fitbit scientists aren’t sure what causes this effect; after all, they’ve just discovered the phenomenon. “This opens up all new possibilities to try and understand in more detail, with maybe more controlled experiments, why these things happen,” says McLean.

RHR Variation

The new data doesn’t just show our average RHR; it also shows how much our RHRs vary.

“Younger women, on average, experience a higher variation,” says Emir-Farinas. “Some of that could be explained by hormonal changes during menstruation.”

You know who else turns out to have wide swings in heart rate? Men over 50.

“It’s manopause, as my wife calls it in me,” McLean cracks. “But no, we don’t know the reason, because nobody’s really observed this before.”


Your body-mass index, or BMI, represents your height and weight. It’s your obesity level.

“As your weight increases, so does your resting heart rate — which makes sense, of course, because there’s more tissue to support, and the heart needs to work harder,” notes Emir-Farinas.

It’s healthiest not to be overweight — but underweight might not be healthy, either.

But the Fitbit data also shows an association between high RHR and low body weight.

“Yeah, there’s an optimal BMI, where the body is able to work efficiently. Either side of that, the body isn’t at an optimal state of general maintenance and efficiency. It’s having to work harder to provide the basic provisions.”

Physical Activity: Quantity

It’s not news that getting exercise is good for your heart. (The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous active minutes a week.)

What is surprising, though, is that the benefit tapers off after a couple hundred minutes of exercise.

Regular activity does wonders for your heart — up to a point.

“That’s good news — you don’t have to work out every minute of every day to continue to get more benefit,” says McLean. “After 200 to 300 minutes per week, you don’t see much of a change in resting heart rate or a benefit. I don’t have to do 500 minutes, I can do half that. That’s achievable.”

Physical activity: Consistency

Fitbit’s data makes it clear that it’s not just about getting a lot of exercise — it’s getting it consistently. The more consistent you are, the lower your resting heart rate.

Sitting all week and then blowing yourself out on the weekend is not a great approach. “You can’t gain cardiovascular health from a once-a-week exercise bash. Running in the morning and then sitting all day — that’s not a great approach, either,” Emir-Farinas says.

This, of course, is why smartwatches and fitness bands today all pop up reminders once an hour to get up and walk around.

RHR and age

The next chart emphasizes that it’s possible to lower your heart rate at any age.

You can lower your heart rate no matter how old you are, but it’s easier if you’re younger.

“As you can see, younger individuals can achieve a larger decline than older individuals,” says Emir-Farinas. “But it is possible for older people to reduce their resting heart rate, too, with sustained physical activity.”


Sleeping is good for you — but only to a point. Too much sleep might actually be bad for you.

“There is a sweet spot,” says Emir-Farinas. “It’s very clear from this plot that you have this window of optimal sleep, and it really does have an impact on your resting heart rate.”

In general, sleep is good for your heart — but there might be such a thing as too much.

That sweet spot is not 8 hours of sleep a night — it’s 7.25 hours. In terms of heart health, that’s the number you should be going for. “Which is good news for busy people,” says McLean.

Country vs. Country

“These are my favorite charts,” says Emir-Farinas. She plotted age-adjusted data from the 55 countries with the most Fitbit wearers.

It graphs the citizens’ activity levels (horizontal axis) against their average resting heart rate (vertical).

Amazingly, people in different countries have different heart rates, even if their age, sex, and exercise levels are the same.

The variation in heart rates is, to me, just crazy. Among people who get about 55 minutes of activity a day, the RHR is about 62 beats a minute in Costa Rica, but almost 70 in India! What could that mean?

“That means there’s other factors at play,” Emir-Farinas says. “It’s their nutrition, it’s their BMIs, it’s their practices, medication — and genetics, of course. That’s also a big part of it.”

In general, Europe beats the world here. “They have designed their cities so that there will be more physical activity. People have to walk more just do normal activities: going to the grocery store, going to work, they have to walk a little,” she says. (Check out Sweden, for example: almost 90 minutes of activity a day!)

They also drink a lot of wine in Europe. Just sayin’.

The scientists note that Qatar seems to be an outlier. Seventy percent of the Qatari population is obese — yet their RHR is an impressive 62. How could that be?

Emir-Farinas’s theory is that huge numbers of them are on blood-pressure and heart meds.

Congratulations to Italians, by the way, with an impressive 84 minutes a day of activity, and a nearly-dead 61 beats-a-minute RHR.

And as for Pakistan, with the worst activity level and a sky-high RHR — get with it, people!

Nicki and David

My wife Nicki has run 16 marathons. The last time she ingested fat or sugar, she was probably in kindergarten. She’s going to live to be 200.

So I wasn’t entirely looking forward to the slide that compares her health to mine. (I have run 0 marathons.)

Sure enough: There she is, in the ninth percentile of resting heart-rate. Meaning that 91% of women her age have a higher heart rate.

OK, my wife whomps me in the activity department — but I’m the king of sleep.

“Her resting heart rate is very low for her age and gender group. Daily active minutes — it’s amazing, 70 minutes per day,” says Emir-Farinas.

I was horrified to discover my Daily Active Minutes stat: I’m in the 12th percentile. (In my defense, these numbers don’t include all the sedentary people who don’t wear fitness bands.)

But Emir-Farinas cheered me up: “On the other hand, your sleep is amazing. You’re smashing it with your REM duration.”

The journal study

The wildest slides, for me, were the ones where they plotted our life events against our heart-rate data. Here’s mine:

This three-year vertical timeline plots my major life events against my resting heart rate.

Kind of wild to see how starting to use a treadmill — the first regular cardio workouts I’ve ever really gotten — visibly lowered my entire heart-rate range.

Also, it turns out that having kidney stones is bad for you. My heart rate went through the roof both times.

I was surprised and amused, though, to see the second most stressful events on my graph: holiday get-togethers.

“You see the heart rate go up before your family reunions, and then tend to really take a long time to come back after it,” notes McLean. In other words — who knew?? — holidays with the family are not a guarantee of peace, relaxation, and joy.

“You heard that first at Fitbit,” jokes Mclean.

The takeaways

Your resting heart rate boils a whole range of health-related stats — exercise, diet, age, sleep, where you live — down to a single, reliable statistic.

“Your resting heart rate is a very easily understood and digestible metric,” says McLean. “It’s something that lets you say, ‘Wow, I see my resting heart rate — I see it changing, that means something.’ It’s so motivational. I can go, ‘Wow, these are the things that obviously worked for me and these are the things that aren’t.”

He hopes to spread the word about the resting heart rate beyond the community of hard-core athletes.

“We view everyone as an athlete,” he says. “So you can be 20, you can be 30, you can be 40, you can be 70. You’re your own athlete, and you have an opportunity to improve your health.”





Health and Wellbeing ‘Its none of your business’?

…in fact it should be every part of your business as I attempt to reveal hidden benefits beyond the traditional arguments of “Return on investment” stats” and “sickness figures”…


In today’s world, the online universe provides a plethora of information, facts, studies and statistics that have built a business case that is hard to ignore around investing in the health and wellbeing (H&W) of your employees.

Well that is how it looks from “us lot” in the Public Health community anyway. But to resonate with business leaders and in particular the boardroom there needs to be other drivers for investment in health and wellbeing strategies and programming that goes beyond the ethical argument.

The trouble is, although the evidence is compelling, it is often produced and researched by academics, public health professionals and approached with arguments we think are relevant to business, without actually knowing what really is relevant to business.


For example reducing absenteeism rates is a definite business tangible, a long term one, and the term presenteeism (at work but less productive as a result of a health issue- think stress/personal/MSK etc) also a valid argument. But in the short term how is it measurable, or better put how does H&W contribute across the business to other business tangibles?

Of course for some Organisations reducing absenteeism is enough of a catalyst to lever investment and, provide in response,  a suite of health and wellbeing initiatives, activities and resources to help combat some of the aforementioned workforce health issues of our time.

For others, excuse the phrase, it is like ‘a stab in the dark’ – feeling compelled to do something but not sure exactly what to do, or where it fits in the bigger picture. It is an increasingly more complex area of business. Furthermore how does health and wellbeing fit with the wider Business strategy and how can it transcend every business function?

As I am lucky enough to occupy a position purely managing a health and wellbeing strategy and programme in business and working with multiple businesses across the Sheffield City Region I have a unique insight into how a Health and Wellbeing Programme sells at board level and experience of a range of evidence based health initiatives eg inactivity in workforces.

I also come with over 15 years of public health experience for the NHS, VCS Sector and Housing Sector which enables me to pool the knowledge and expertise I have gained across Sectors. Often sectors that don’t deal with each other in day to day operations – which brings business benefits you may not think about when involved in H&W programmes.

So health statistics, evidence, and return on investment, infographics, and Chief Medical Officer Health guidelines aside – how can a health and wellbeing programme translate health benefits into overall business benefits that make a board tick?


Think of a constant source of human interest stories providing a rich source of content to feed social media channels, staff magazines and add value to the external brand. For example a b2b business brand may not reach local / regional communities but Health and Wellbeing activities can add value to brands by exposing your business to new markets and networks through community / employee involvement.

For example award winning health and wellbeing programmes, accreditations (such as Investors in people that include a H&W element) and the achievements of staff circulating their Healthy activities across personal social media networks provides invaluable reach to new audiences.

Ethical Investment

According to data on investor preferences, put together by London-based investment firm IW Capital, 24% of investors would refrain from pursuing an investment decision because of ethical concerns over the product or service.

And consider this, it goes on to state, ‘Of 2,004 respondents, almost a third said the ethical, social or environmental impact of the company they were investing in was just as important as the financial return’.


So an effective Health and wellbeing programme can contribute directly to investment opportunities, brand credibility and new growth markets. And this is true throughout my own observations in business. Contracts, tender and bid documents all require much more information than a quote purely based on the cheapest cost. Procurement Professionals want to know about your business, your employees, credibility and CSR etc.

Suddenly in ‘business speak’ H&W is picking up more momentum than just the ‘it’s the right thing to do’ argument, or an approach based purely on projecting savings through H&W investment. All arguments based on solid evidence may I add, but on their own may not be enough to convince some boardrooms.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR is a little like H&W ‘a nice to do’ or an added extra section on a tender document as a tick box exercise with no real direction or thought going into it. Of course not true of a lot of Organisations who have some innovative H&W programmes.

Virgin Money Lounges are a beautifully crafted example of a CSR agenda tied into brand, reaching new audiences, supporting deprived communities and feeding back into increasing banking customers.




If your business has expertise staff skills be sure to share this across multiple systems (think educational business visits, university fairs, community health and wellbeing programmes etc). Your long term brand floods future recruitment channels – think Talent selection, recruitment and retention. It is a hotly contested job market out there. Potential recruits look for more than just the salary; pay and benefits, an advocate of the brand, health and wellbeing culture…the list goes on.

An example of this is Perkbox – a pay and benefits platform, that has a predominately young workforce and therefore positions its brand as the ‘hip’ ‘cool’ choice of Employer. If you’re one of the best tech graduates you are going to want to work with a brand known for its unique work environment – think a performance work ethic wrapped around fun, plank challenges, chill out areas, social space, bonuses, free fruit/food and games.

Pay and Benefits

REBA held their Health and Wellbeing congress in London a few weeks ago – with input from Debi O’Donovan. It was a mainly HR audience interested in the role of H&W in engagement, policy, recruitment and the ‘bigger picture. Amongst the many fantastic speakers there, one presentation talking about ethical investment was as solid business case for H&W as I have heard with fascinating insight.

Aviva also presented on the power of employee stories regarding mental health and their programme which includes support for employees, training and expert support. Read about the programme here: AVIVA HEALTH AND WELLBEING

If you work for a company you genuinely feel proud to work for, valued, part of the family / brand you are much more likely to perform better. Reciprocation. According to HR Technologist ‘Beyond the salary – A salary is the minimum a company must offer an employee to complete tasks. For work that is immune to quality problems, maybe a salary is enough.


However, in roles where completion is not good enough – where engagement, productivity, and resourcefulness matter – incentives are indispensable. In challenging work, there is no reciprocity without incentives. H&W can be part of those incentives. A business investing in the health of ‘you’ gives a personalisation and caring feel very few benefits can achieve.

The ‘Golf Course Effect

I spoke about this in an article I wrote earlier in the year around health and wellbeing activities outside of work. I made the link between Health and wellbeing activities acting as a driver for increased communication and collaboration in business bringing colleagues from different departments together.

This argument comes back to the point I made about H&W transcending parts of the business other initiatives don’t. Especially true in bigger business, it can indeed act as an educational tool for people to learn about different parts of the business that may not come into contact with each other in normal day to day business operations.

Imagine the difference between a cold email from a colleague in some far distant department further in the supply chain, or an email / call from a colleague you have participated in an activity with and have a rapport with. I’d suggest you would fulfill that request / task to a better level and with a tailored more friendly approach. Great for business.

See more on this article dubbed ‘Employee Health and wellbeing programmes – on “COURSE” to take over “GOLF”!


Cross Sector brand credibility

I can say from experience – the range of health projects and initiatives across the UK at the moment opens up unparalleled opportunities to work with sectors you would have never worked with in daily business operations. But what does this mean? Let me provide an example.

B.Braun Medical Ltd has its Head Quarters in Sheffield and provides industry leading medical products and services across the UK Health sector.

Through a 10 year health and wellbeing programme operating under the brand B.Healthy B.Braun it has links with

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  1. The National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine
  2. Royal Society for Public Health recognised H&W Scheme.
  3. Featured in active travel campaigns for South Yorkshire Transport Executive
  4. Features on the Yorkshire Physical Activity Knowledge Exchange platform
  5. Has regular content in the local and regional media
  6. Has input into the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellbeing group
  7. Facilitated a visit by John Lewis to help inform there H&W programme
  8. A case study for the Inmotion active travel campaign,
  9. Features in HR publications around Employee Health and Wellbeing programmes
  10. Featured in the Outdoor City run routes videos for the Sheffield City Region with employees.
  11. Part of the England Athletics LIRF Run England Programme.
  12. Has a large active employee group in short and long walk trips, running groups, onsite activities and colleagues presented at a recent health awards event.

This carousel of activity provides reams of content for marketing as well as positioning the Company as a role model for other business in leading the field of employee H&W locally.

The H&W landscape is vast and knowing where to go, access to resource, tapping into existing schemes can save both time and money going it alone with a H&W programme.

It is my specialist area and I have included a few examples of where you can access these resources from Public Health England for free (link below) and also my slideshare account that contains a selection of H&W reports, examples and presentations.

The synergy

Hopefully you have joined the dots between the six subtitles and made the discovery that H&W gels them altogether. It is hard to pick the most relevant benefit for business, as each Organisation has its own culture, board personalities and all the internal and external factors that influence the way it operates.

I could have filled this article up with fancy infographics, statistics, ROI calculations and the like that are readily available free – check the excellent Public Health England resource out here


It is information I use to inform and drive H&W programmes within business, it is a field I operate in and a landscape I know inside out. But I also have the advantage of working in business, with Boards of Directors on H&W to offer observations and insight into other drivers of H&W programmes that might get missed out by the Public Health sector but offer just as much, if not more power to persuade businesses to invest in employee H&W.


  1. Presentations on physical activity guidelines (2018 Nuffield report), REBA Employer Survey example report, NICE Workplace guidance and example slides of my own H&W initiatives programmes and behavioural change projects

Notable reports and sources of Health information – follow links;

Health Foundation 

Royal Society for Public Health 

Westfield Health

Sport England




Andrew Picken
Member of Royal Society for Public Health
Health and Wellbeing Consultant
National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)
B.Braun Medical Ltd (Sheffield)
Living Streets Associate (Leeds)
Twitter: @AJPConsultant
Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

Move More Month onboard to pull a bus

Media advisory: for immediate release


Event: Strong man bus pull at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park

Date: Friday 15 June, 12.30pm and 1.30pm

Venue: Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Attercliffe Common, Sheffield, S9 3TL


Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in top gear for Move More bus pull


The world’s strongest junior will bare his biceps to pull a double decker bus along the 100m track at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.


To celebrate the city’s Move More Month, strong man Paul Smith – the youngest person to hold England’s Strongest Man title in 2016-2017 – will haul the 12-tonne vehicle along the track in the centre of the park.

Blackpool saw him pull Blackpool transports 30th anniversary bus with 50 passengers onboard see here –


Paul Smith, 24, from Sheffield, is one of Ultimate Strongman’s Junior Competitors. He won the U23 World Championship in Canada against a strong line up of competitors from all over the world.


The Move More event will take place on Friday 15 June at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Attercliffe Common, with two bus pulls at 12.30pm and 1.30pm.


There will also be a weightlifting display by Sheffield’s Hallam Barbell Weightlifting Club and the chance to try out the sport.


Members of the public can take a Power Test Challenge on one of Wosskow Brown’s special Watt Bikes – ride the bike for a 10 second burst and the dial on the bike will give a measure of ‘power’.


Specialists from SIV will be on hand to provide information about health and wellbeing opportunities, activities and events in the local area, including sessions at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield and iceSheffield, both part of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.


The third annual Move More Month is encouraging the people of Sheffield to get active and record their physical activity during June to see how many combined minutes the city can clock up.

ps pull

Movements can be logged on smart phones by a new and free Move More Sheffield app. Once downloaded, the app automatically tracks activity and clocks up users Move More Minutes. It’s part of a bid to make Sheffield the most active city in the UK by 2020.


Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is one of a number of locations across the city where the public can play Move More hopscotch.


For more information, visit, follow @OLPSheffield on Twitter, like our Olympic Legacy Park page on Facebook or search Legacy Park Ltd on LinkedIn.


Additional information:


Interview, photos and filming opportunities will be available with strong man Paul Smith, plus directors of Move More Month. Journalists can ride on the bus while it is being pulled.


Directions: Please report to <INSERT NAME AND CONTACT DETAILS>


Parking: Free parking is available for journalists <INSERT DETAILS>


Social media hashtag: #MoveMore


Twitter handle: @OLPSheffield @movemoresheff




Notes to editors:


  • Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is a 2012 Olympic Legacy hub for health and wellbeing collaborative research and learning.
  • Legacy Park Ltd is a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield City Council, created to deliver the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.
  • On the 60-acre Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EISS), iceSheffield, Altitude, Don Valley Bowl, the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC, Oasis Academy Don Valley, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus, 3G pitch, Indoor Arena, Stadium, Hotel and park environment including 100m sprint track, Outdoor City Run Route cycle paths and green open spaces.
  • Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) is set to create innovations that will ‘improve the health of the nation’, tackling key issues such as static levels of physical activity, rising obesity and mental health whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.
  • The £3.5 million Park Community Arena will be the new home for the Sheffield Sharks basketball team and MLS Contracts Ltd. The multi-purpose, indoor facility will have three courts and seating for up to 2,500 spectators.
  • Oasis Academy Don Valley, an all-through inclusive Academy for children aged 2-16, opened on the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park with its first class in September 2015. The Academy will grow year on year until it reaches full capacity in 2021.
  • University Technical College (UTC) Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, part of the UTC Sheffield Academy Trust, is a college for 13 to 19-year olds, specialising in Health Sciences, Sport Science and Computing. Students can start in Y9, Y10 or Y12 to study a combination of GCSEs/A Levels and a technical specialism (OCR Cambridge Technicals and Nationals).
  • Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will become a research hub for Sheffield’s new National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine using physical activity as medicine and the city of Sheffield as a ‘living laboratory’ for the testing of new innovations.
  • Concept designs for the Centre for Child Health Technology and the Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Research and Innovation Centre have been developed by HLM Sheffield.


Issued by HR Media Ltd on behalf of Legacy Park Ltd. For further information contact Ellie Morrell, Martin Ross or Laura Metcalfe at HR Media on 0114 252 7760.









The Move More workplace challenge 2018 – WHY BE INVOLVED?


There are real business benefits behind the fun of the workplace challenge for the Sheffield City region that runs in June – as part of Sheffield’s Move More strategy to become the most active City in the UK by 2020. Aside from the value placed on an individual’s / employee good health –  the foundation of any workplace wellbeing programme – the return on investment is a boardroom lever that must champion the cause.

Sheffield realises that to hardwire physical activity back into the fabric of peoples lives, linked to improved mental wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing, will have a positive impact on the City’s ability to balance an economy using improved public health outcomes. These interventions to turn the tide of inactivity will reduce hospital admissions and potentially ease the pressure on local health and care systems carrying the burden of inactive populations later in life. An economy boost.

The workplace challenge is a simple way to engage business in an online competition to disseminate the benefits of physical activity to business whilst creating an awareness about Move and More and the World class resources available to business across the City Region. You compete for active minutes = the most active workplace wins and it isn’t too late to enter here NOW –

Move More initiatives cover schools, community and public sector partnerships to ensure positive health outcomes across the City’s health system are achieved with a particular focus on addressing inactivity.

In a workplace context move more is constantly evolving using reflection and learning to tailor approaches to getting people to move more. Supported by behavioural change principles and evidence based practice driven by academic expertise move more can contribute to effective health and wellbeing programmes across business.

See my article here on embedding physical activity across business functions including Human Resources

Use the free move more toolkit (brand assets and logos) to show your contribution and support for one of the UK’s most visionary strategies tackling population level inactivity across its City residents.


And physical activity is a real driver for employee engagement, Health and safety prevention strategies, contributing to pay and reward programmes and an absolute content machine for marketing, talent recruitment and retention. A valued employee working at a ‘great’ company that invests in employee health can be a deal breaker.

We have developed a suite of move more resources, products and systems such as elite sports engineering equipment. These systems can track activity levels using sensors and NFC Technology linked to bespoke workplace challenges. We also have a new system of programmed lights in buildings that go up stairs at different paces to encourage physical activity using stair climbing as just a few examples.


So join in the workplace challenge and try and scoop the prestigious ‘most active workplace award’. Email to me to find out how we can make your workplace active and activate move more buildings and people to move more with our expertise using behavioural change methods and employee engagement strategies.

Come down and see us at the Olympic Legacy Park 12 pm Friday 15th June where England’s strongest man 2016 will pull a Double DECKER BUS for move more month – free spectacle.  Olympic Legacy Park, Attercliffe Common, Sheffield S9 3TL.


Or partner move more as part of your wider marketing or CSR Strategy to be part of the making Sheffield the most active City in the UK by 2020 –



Move More Month is the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicines’ initiative to encourage Employers to encourage more movement at work, or champion the benefits of physical activity. We do this using a Move More smartphone app and website to track active minutes during the month of June.
Awards for the most active Business are presented after the month, you can use social media to highlight your efforts as individuals / teams or as a business and all whilst encouraging others to move more. This feeds into Sheffield’s ambition to become the most active City in the UK by 2020.
The challenge is free and you can sign up now using the link below – this will work for any other businesses you send this link to too. You just need team(s) of 10 people and an email address.
Registration is 5 minutes and can be done NOW. Once you have registered you will be prompted shortly to enter teams ready for the start of June.
You can be included in the Move More Month launch event. HR media and the regional papers will be involved covering businesses involved in Move More Month.
This year we are also looking at sponsored hopscotches either at business premises or some of the City Centre locations we have identified where you can have your business logo sprayed next to the temporary hopscotch.
Our hopscotches are designed to encourage people to have some fun and promote being active outside and can be sponsored at only £300 each.



Cost effective Health and Wellbeing consultancy and support offered to business. Can be integrated into HR, H&S, Pay and Benefits, Corporate Social Responsibility and marketing.

Andy Picken – over 12 years public and private sector health and wellbeing project management experience. DIPHE Health Promotion, DIP Copywriting, IOSH Health Safety for Managers, BA (Hons) in Sport , Health & Management, HND Leisure management Emergency First Aid at work trained.

Currently work for the NCSEM (National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine) 2.5 days a week across the Yorkshire Region, B.Braun Medical Ltd as their employee health and wellbeing consultant 1 day a week and have clients such as John Lewis on an ad hoc basis I work with.

Previous work with Sheffield University students union, N Power, Living Street, Leeds Public Health and Sheffield City Council.

Available for long or short term projects.

SERVICE AND PRICE LISTS HERE:   price lists2017-18



Business Health ‘the new’ golf course

Employee Health and wellbeing programmes – on “COURSE” to take over “GOLF”!


We all know that one sport became synonymous with business networking, deals and bringing Organisations together: Golf. It also conjured images up of being a more upper class sport, expensive equipment, driving the golf buggy – work colleagues in tow and staying over at some amazing locations. The sport of Directors and CEO’s. Of course that’s not totally true, but that’s the interpretation.

The principle of activities outside work creating synergy across business departments and indeed opening up new contacts across sectors hasn’t changed. Golf indeed gave that time between shots to talk business, a rather easier concept than talking during a 10k run with your heart bouncing around 75% of its maximum capacity!


But what has changed is the digital environment we now operate within and that has made walking, outdoor pursuits, running and various physical challenges a part of business and very visible to other Companies and potential customers. A more accessible out of work activity than golf. Whether in a B2C or B2B environment that outside branding is vital to business. Ask brand experts or your marketing Guru’s.


Word Cloud Social Marketing

I wanted to carry a different perspective to the usual angle of H&W business cases in this article ; employee absences, risk reduction of type 2 diabetes, reduced MSK, improved mental health etc etc. If you don’t know about how to tackle these risk factors you should. Look around my blog for articles on the ROI, business case and long term projections of running a H&W programme.

This article looks at the power of customer reach through H&W programmes. I have decided to look at how H&W acts as a mechanism for marketing, principally social media. Social media needs fuel, and that fuel is new, fun and engaging content. Health and wellbeing is that fuel. Especially useful for business that operates in a ‘less cool’ sector, or without the brand funkiness of say A Nike or desirable brand WITH MASS APPEAL.

H&W evens out the field. For example B.Braun Medical Ltd I work with on a freelance basis provide medical equipment and products to the NHS and are innovators in their field with a reputation founded on ‘sharing expertise’. Operating in a predominately B2B environment gives little exposure of the brand to the more general population.

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However the employee H&W programme provides that lever. Employees have been filmed by Sheffield’s ‘OUTDOOR CITY’  running the Cities run routes as part of a promotion and came runners up as the most active workplace in Sheffield at an awards ceremony held at Westfield health for Move More. Just two examples of many this year.


Move More is the Cities ambition and strategy to become the most active City in the UK by 2020 and is run through the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine. B.Braun Medical have worked with Move More and thus made links right across the public, private and VCS Sectors – beyond their traditional markets.


Active employees quite happily carry the business brand around localities during fundraising challenges, triathlons, marathons – you name it. This means health and wellbeing has become a marketing machine in its own right. B.Braun even have their own in house brand for the programme.


Considering the average Facebook user has 338 friends (Source: Brandwatch) and videos have the highest engagement rates those post selfie videos and photos by 20/30 people could potentially be reaching 9000 people. Free!

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And with employee health and wellbeing being predicted by Marketing week to be one of the trends of 2018, if you haven’t took note then maybe 2018 is the year you do. Not only is it a proactive approach to protecting your workforces health (principally my priority), contributing to the bottom line, it is also a highly visible company benefit that’s an excellent driver in any social media or marketing strategy. H&W trend 2018

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The Financial times wrote an article on health and wellbeing being the ‘cool’ company benefit.  The likes of Vitality are rewarding healthy behaviours with some innovative technologies. Westfield Health are centred around ‘choose smarter’, live better – supporting health and wellbeing. Nuffield Health also provide a full health and wellbeing service partnering with the Vitality platform.

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Brand exposure is about timing as much as it is targeting. Trends are one way to do this but often disappear as quick as they come. Therefore preparing a solid health and wellbeing plan now will have much wider benefits than just the health of your staff. It’s a business driver and therefore another reason its importance should rise on the boardroom agenda.

It is also a trend that unlike most is probably here to stay. H&W contributes to HR engagement strategies, Health and Safety agendas and more and more the pay and benefits arena. For example the British Safety Council are particular active on Wellbeing as a driver of Health and Safety compliance and good practice. Culture change is the objective.

But now hopefully this article has made you aware of another indirect benefit of employee H&W programmes. A benefit that has appeared quietly on the back of social media but offers an opportunity to reach audiences untapped.

In the World of talent recruitment and attracting the best people to spearhead your business check these survey results out.

Capita Employee Benefits Insight Report arevealed that 44.8 percent of respondents would judge an employer based on the quality of the health and wellbeing packages they offer.

This is particularly valued by higher earners where nearly half (48.8) percent of employees earning over £45,000 a year said they would evaluate their employer or potential employer on the strength of their commitment to employee wellbeing. This suggests it’s NOT just the pull of the salary figure and company car.

And last but not least the cost of such initiatives? Well, apart from benefits such as cycle to work schemes, health insurance, saving plans and access to virtual GP’s etc with a bit of time and planning additional benefits can be built up through an in-house H&W programme / calendar.

Check out one of the companies I work with and who I have referenced in this article: B. Braun Medical Ltd. This 2018 H&W programme (not including my time) is roughly done for around £5000 per 6 months. See what is delivered for that amount of investment B.Braun H&W 2018 Summary

In marketing terms alone (forgetting long term cost savings in terms of staff ill health) consider this. The average price for a full page local paper advert is £3,000 and for a National paper £27,000. The social media reach of a H&W programme massively outperforms these media offerings.

And H&W provides a revolving carousel of content and positive marketing stories. A printed story is set in stone once it is published. Your next story costs the same. But in the social media world a clever article or story with a Press Release will get picked up by media anyway to add value to their publication. Best bit: FREE!

We also know quirky marketing works well and in the PR world is the bread and butter of media reach. Such examples are the tug of war we ran with England’s strongest man in business that really did ‘PULL’ in some social media reach.

So maybe now is the time to give some serious thought to how you can embed a health and wellbeing programme across your staff. And if you are struggling there are free resources you can get involved in.

June 2018 sees the annual SHEFFIELD move more workplace challenge take place which provides a website that logs steps and active minutes over the course of a month to see who can be the most active. The publicity is huge and the competitiveness drives the fun of being involved. Best of all its free to Sheffield business.


If you are reading this and would like your own in house activity challenge across your business we can provide a bespoke website platform and run it for you. With advice on how to promote your initiative to outside audiences. It is also a great way to get people moving – especially important for desk based workforces.

Examples of some of B.Braun Medical Ltd’s media coverage and Move More collaboration.


Andrew Picken

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)





Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

The ‘Health’ in safety and the ‘safety’ in health

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Health and wellbeing – an essential employee and employer benefit

We know there are around 131 million days lost due to ill health and an estimated £9 billion spent on illness and associated costs at work. It’s staggering. We know that MSK –musculoskeletal – issues (31 million days lost)  is the top health at work issue followed by colds (27 million days lost) and stress, anxiety or depression (15 million days lost). Source: Public Health England.

We know the emerging trends. On average over 7 hours is spent sat down (including driving to and from work) with the USA National library of medicine suggesting over 8 hours in its study. Being sedentary is a threat. MSK and stress feed off the prolonged time we spend sat down, often under pressure.


Just like improving work practices, office ergonomics, RIDDOR protocols and so forth, wellbeing deserves the same focus. It’s the elephant in the room, the darkening shadow, the intangible becoming the tangible. The statistics reveal its sinister intentions.

Working lives are busy. Time is a precious commodity. Exercise is the chore, but regular movement is key to combatting some of these statistics. Public Health England’s campaign is about movement. Active 10 is just that. Packaging walking into a 10 minute window. There is a free website for any organisation to utilise full of free resources, facts and top tips on healthy workplaces. active 10


Forget gyms and marathons. Think stairs, using the toilet on the top floor, an active commute or getting up and walking to your colleague’s desk instead of using the phone or instant message facilities. It arguably has more benefits in small regular movement patterns than that one gym session with no movement for the rest of the day.

And lets not forget the talent war currently on in Germany’s ‘Silver Economy, where blue chip business such as EON and Daimler are using H&W to lever employee loyalty and look after their employees. Not to mention the benefits of being active and having access to a H&W programme in terms of keeping people in work longer and mitigating some of the potential issues of a rapidly ageing workforce,

So not only is Health and Wellbeing transcending HR policy, H&S and Pay and benefits it is seen as a vehicle to remain competitive and aid communication. Lets be honest corporate fitness challenges such as running and obstacle courses are the new ‘GOLF COURSE’ in terms of networking, collaboration and business deals.#

Japan is another economy heavily reliant on an ageing workforce and to help manage that the office environment oozes movement with a movement based start to the day and regular breaks. They value that the human body responds to movement well so promote it. In the UK we have normalised sitting and removed movement from our lives. Although the evidence base is quickly gaining momentum to reverse that trend.


Public health has struggled for years to convince the Nation to lead healthier lifestyles – with some spectacular failures. Seen as though we spend 35% (of our waking lives over a 50 year lifespan) at work it offers the perfect vehicle to instigate culture change.

Breaking the ‘it’s how we do things around here’ attitude and turning it toward a more proactive health and wellbeing approach is one such solution to turning the tide on the elephant in the room. The ‘safety’ of knowing we are tackling poor health at work is yet another key component of the preventative levers that span across the health and safety, HR an Pay and benefits agenda.

I am qualified to coach running and resistance exercise, and do this in some workplaces, but really the BIG TICKET stuff to culture change isn’t the exercise classes and even onsite gym (although both are beneficial).

The big ticket items are normalising activity (re in Japan movement takes place in the office not a gym environment). No one bats an eyelid. Its as normal as brushing your teeth a habitual activity.  Why gyms don’t always work


And in today’s world of social media madness quirkiness plays its part in employee engagement. Stair use instead of the lifts, regular walking breaks and walking meetings are all a great way to enthuse staff and encourage movement – forget the gym in this instance.


Or gamifying movement can help people to stay motivated and instigate long term behavioural change. See our shopping centre trial earlier in year at Meadowhall – Sheffield. Meadowhall fitness sensors



What we can conclude is that Health and Wellbeing is a safety measure beyond enforcement, but activating a strategy to keep business safe from high ill health rates, protecting employees, attracting the best talent, been an innovator and thus gaining that competitive edge. Why wouldn’t you nurture that?

For all health and wellbeing strategy, delivery and evaluation contact me at



Andrew Picken

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)





Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

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