On the road to health

by 15 May 2007

Q. We have put a health and wellbeing program in place for our senior managers, however many of them have extensive travel commitments and find it hard to stick to a set program. What sort of things can we do to realistically help them?

A. An effective health and wellbeing program supports employees in all areas of their lifestyle and is well integrated into their workplace routines. There are a number of ways the organisation can assist its managers to maintain their health and wellbeing while travelling.

Firstly, recognise that people will probably have to make changes to their exercise regime while away from their normal routine. If possible, always try to book your managers into a hotel that has a pool or a gym or one that is within walking distance of conference sessions or meeting venues. Encourage your managers to take their training shoes and exercise gear with them, or provide them with an exercise DVD so they can do a workout in their hotel room.

Provide your managers with suggestions for incidental exercise during extended travel, such as taking “power walks” around their airport terminal during stopovers and avoiding moving walkways. A pedometer can be a good way of measuring exactly how mobile you have been during the day. Provide your managers with pedometers and encourage them to take 10,000 steps each day. Organise a trainer for conferences to run sessions before breakfast.

When planning the manager’s travel schedule ensure there are times set aside for exercise. Allow for breaks during the day or before business starts in the morning and make suggestions for walks that are close to the hotel.

Provide your managers with tips about making smart food choices that could include the following:

• Nutrition surveys show that breakfast eaters are more likely to achieve their recommended dietary intakes and be in the healthy weight range, making breakfast an important part of the travelling manager’s day. If scheduling breakfast meetings book into a small café where the manager can make healthy choices rather than at a hotel buffet that can be hard to manage.

• Provide fruit at breaks in meetings and conferences rather than muffins or pastries.

• Learning what are sensible sized portions makes it easier to eat only as much as you need and stay in control when travelling.

• Water is a must for weight loss and for staying hydrated when travelling, so make sure that you aim to have 8–10 glasses every day. While juices have a healthy image, watch the kilojoule content which can really clock up. If you have to have soft drinks or tea, diet soft drinks and herbal teas are better choices. And remember alcohol has the highest kilojoule content of all and can also stimulate your appetite. Choose lower kilojoule alternatives like sparkling mineral water, vodka and diet tonic or Cranberry Lite.

When your manager returns, encourage them to get back to their normal routine as early as possible. The best way a company can support its managers is to implement a health and wellbeing program that has the flexibility to help their employees deal with all aspects of their working life.

By Stephanie Christopher, general manager – corporate sales and customer service, Weight Watchers Australasia. Ph (02) 9928 1300. Email: schristopher@weightwatchers.com.au.