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Keeping your workplace well this winter

For many businesses, winter can be a challenging time as employees succumb to cough, colds, flu and digestive/stomach problems. Your colleagues may view becoming ill in winter as inevitable, however, there is lots you can do to help improve office health and wellbeing.

Niki Evans-Ward

    • Provide fresh fruit as alternative to all the sweets and chocolate, it can help prevent the afternoon lull as well as providing essential vitamins for the immune system.
    • Keep your staff hydrated – get your teams to share recipes for seasonally infused water or herbal teas.
    • Provide a flu vaccination service for employees.
    • Ensure good hygiene and provide hand sanitisers and tissues to prevent the spread of germs.
    • Encourage employees to take a lunchtime walk. Keeping active can boost the immune system.

    FInd out how we can help keep your company happy and healthy throughout 2017 with our health and wellbeing services.


Keeping winter bugs at bay

Niki Evans-Ward

In winter time cold, flu and novovirus are rife. However, there is much we can do to help stay healthy.

  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, a least 5 portions per day.
  • A mix of colours will give you a good variety of vitamins.
  • Dairy products can help stay well as contains protein vitamin A and B12.
  • Get your flu vaccination not only will it protect you but if you care for vulnerable people or young babies it will help prevent passing it on.
  • Keep active – regular exercise can help boost your immune system as well as relieve tension/stress
  • Wash hands regularly and use a hand sanitiser. Many germs are passed from hand to hand, door handles, money etc. Good hygiene can help minimise the spread of germs.


Is stress making your company ill?

Niki Evans-Ward

For many of us we spend approximately 50% of our waking hours, getting ready for, commuting to or at work. It is no wonder that something we spend so much of our time doing can have such an impact on our mental and physical health and wellbeing. Work related stress, anxiety and depression account for 9.9m lost working days per year (1).  

Stress can lead to anxiety and depression, which is the second largest health concern after cardiovascular disease. Yet employers often underestimate the physical impact stress has on a person’s health. It can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease, ulcers, colitis, anxiety and depression, as well as impairing the immune system. This ultimately effects company productivity, as 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost to ill health are caused by stress(2).

Our bodies are designed to cope with short bursts of stress, it becomes incredibly efficient, fuel supply to the organs is increased and activities such as digestion, urination and reproduction are decreased. However, when stress starts to become prolonged our bodies start to work less efficiently, levels of cortisol increase, muscles waste, the immune system can become suppressed, ulceration of the gut may occur and pancreatic beta cells could fail. In short people become ill!

It estimated that stress costs the UK economy approx. £6.5bn per year(3), yet many companies fail to realise looking after employee’s health can benefit the company’s business health by reducing absenteeism and sickness or increasing motivation and productivity.

Work related stress can not only impact an individual but groups of employees and can cause:

  • Conflict and disputes
  • Increased staff turnover
  • Complaints/grievances
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Reports of stress
  • Difficulty attracting new staff
  • Poor performance
  • Customer dissatisfaction and complaints

So help your colleagues identify the signs and symptoms of stress and understand how to manage this before it becomes a problem to their health. 

  • Talk about the problem
  • Learn to relax
  • Relaxed breathing
  • Exercise
  • Stay hydrated
  • Sleep
  • Eat for wellbeing
  • Master your time
  • Mindfulness
  • Say NO



Caring for Carers

7 out of 10 of the UK’s 7 million unpaid carers will suffer from back pain. Isn’t it about time you gave your back some TLC?

Niki Evans-Ward

Your back is the core support system for the whole of your body and is used throughout the day and night with almost every movement. It supports your body weight but also has to be flexible and strong. We expect our spine to be a good all rounder, yet most of us don’t give it a second thought until we have a problem.

Poor posture and incorrectly performed movement can cause or make any back problems worse. 95% of back problems are caused by nothing serious but can cause pain and discomfort and over a longer period of time significantly impacts our quality of life and health. However, a few simple changes to the way we do things and some simple exercises may help prevent pain and discomfort.

  • Improve your posture – correct posture imposes less stress on your spine and can also help make a difference to how you look and feel.
  • Good sitting position – when sitting at home or in the office when possible sit with your feet flat on the floor, shoulders comfortably relaxed back and your eyes looking straight ahead.
  • Wear the right footwear – if you exercise the right trainers can help reduce the impact to your spine and lower back.
  • Stretch – it is important to strengthen your muscles but also to keep them supple to ensure balance of opposing muscles.
  • Eat for Health – excess weight adds more pressure through your back. Being 10kg overweight is like carrying a full hand luggage sized suitcase around every day.
  • Learn to lift and carry – use your legs rather than your back, your largest muscles are in your thighs and bottom! Many workplaces provide training for correct lifting techniques.
  • Speak with your pharmacist or GP about analgesia – the right pain relief used in the right way can provide relief. Some pain medications have side effects so overuse can cause other health problems. Opioids such as codeine can be addictive so should be used as advised by your HCP.
  • Osteopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist or sports therapist may help provide relief. Other therapies which can help are reflexology, massage, acupuncture. What works for someone else may not be right for you.
  • Strengthen your core – your stomach and back muscles help support and protect your spine whilst stronger leg muscles will help when lifting.

N.B Exercise is a key element for preventing and treating many lower back problems, however, if you have an existing problem it is important you speak with your health care professional to get an accurate diagnosis of and ensure you are able to carry out an exercise routine.

For more information about BackCare Awareness Week visit


  2. The BMA Bad Back Book


Working in an office all day can kill!

Working in an office all day could increase risk of premature death by up to 60% according to a lancet study which used data from over 1 million adults[1]. Many people in office jobs spend much of their time inactive, skip lunch breaks, work long hours which contributes to a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of sunlight. Inactivity and a lack of vitamin D contribute to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and some cancers to name just a few.

Niki Evans-Ward

According to a BBC poll in 2013 53% of employees work through their lunch break, often working 8 or more hours with little movement and no daylight. Long working hours means many employees do no exercise at all during the week and many studies show that inactivity is twice as many deaths as obesity[2]. Combined with around 20% of adults may have low vitamin D status[3].

So is this the responsibility of the employer or employee? Currently companies are not accountable for health relating to inactivity, but as the working population age increases the impact of poor health will become more of a burden to both employer and employee. One study estimated that inactivity is costing the UK economy £1.7bn per year[4]. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are linked to low productivity levels[5].

If anyone ever tells you that hard work never killed anyone the evidence is stacking up to suggest it does! However, there are lots of things you can do improve office health and making the most of the summer sunshine by taking a walk or even just lunch outside can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

  • Get out in the fresh air –  Around 10 to 15 minutes a day between April and September without sunscreen sustains vitamin D levels for most people
  • Go for a good brisk walk – only 60 minutes exercise per day can counteract sedentary lifestyles. A 30 minute brisk walk at lunchtime will contribute to your daily total
  • Eat more healthily – Taking the time to eat lunch can make you more mindful of what you are eating and allow you to make better choices. Which can lead to a healthier lifestyle and also help prevent an energy slump in the middle of the afternoon
  • Take a break – Taking a break for 15-20 mins is proven to maintain energy and concentration levels
  • Visit your colleagues – walk to speak with a colleague rather than emailing can improve relationships as well as getting you moving

“He sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”, Dalai Lama.

  5. J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Feb;54(2):117-21. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318240df1e. Impact of vitamin D deficiency on the productivity of a health care workforce. Plotnikoff GA1, Finch MDDusek JA. Center for Health Care Innovation and Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Minneapolis, MN, USA.

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