The obesity epidemic in England and Wales has caused much controversy over recent years as many of the population suffer from conditions brought about by excessive weight and lack of exercise. Being inactive contributes over 675,000 deaths a year and being overweight causes 337,000 to lose their lives. Here, we look at the news that occupational physiotherapy could be just what UK workers need…
A study performed by researchers at the University of Cambridge followed and questioned over 300,000 people throughout Europe for twelve years. They were asked about about their physical activities and exercise regimes while every death was also recorded. Researchers found that people at risk of an early death were those categorised as ‘inactive’, regardless of the size of their waistline. This meant that those who had passed away were not necessarily overweight, but had a very reduced level of frequent physical exertion.
Research showed that the conditions suffered by those who were obese were similar if not the same as those suffered by people who were simply inactive, suggesting that the tackling of one issue can directly aid another issue. This therefore means that increasing levels of physical activity could help overweight people as well as those who do not live a particularly healthy lifestyle in spite of not carrying excess weight.
Physiotherapy Against Obesity
The beginning of January also hosted National Obesity Awareness Week, during which the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s clinicians showed the link between obesity and physiotherapy. The briefing from the CSP discussed the link between movement and exercise and physiotherapy, namely that they are not mutually exclusive and can therefore aid in weight loss. With one in four people in the UK suffering from obesity, the CSP hopes this new briefing will help the epidemic by encouraging people who have an inactive lifestyle to embrace physicality and use physiotherapy to change their lives.
One of the areas in which physiotherapy can help is the inclusion of physical practices or improved ergonomics in the workplace. For many workers, whether they are working in an office, warehouse or shop, the repetitive nature of the daily grind can result in increased tiredness and a less willing approach to exercise. However, including occupational physiotherapy and associated exercises into the work day can benefit both the employee and the business tenfold.
Workplace physiotherapy offers employees the chance to begin their journey into a new active lifestyle during hours in which they are already partly active. It can be hard for many people to find the drive to begin regular exercise, whereas using physiotherapy at work to enliven workers, both physically and mentally, can be the encouragement they need to continue outside work. This can then lead to a more vibrant and contended workforce, with fewer illnesses and conditions requiring less sick leave and an increase in productivity and morale. With obesity affecting millions of UK residents, and the numbers of children categorised as obese rising constantly, there has never been a better time to help create a new generation of healthy and active workers.
29th January, 2015