by Giulia Malfatti, PhD

Individual’s cognitive abilities determine their productivity in the workplace, their clarity and mental presence that are necessary to fulfill responsibility position.

The brain, which governs and determines how an organism interacts with the world, is affected by stressful daily life activities and suffers from a bad lifestyle and the perpetrate of bad habits. This leads to poor performances and difficulties in fulfilling working requirements.

Lifestyle Assessment: Neocogita’s project at Pietro Fiorentini S.p.A.

Aware of the value and importance of its employees’ well-being, Pietro Fiorentini S.p.A., a Vicenza-based company at the forefront of the distribution and use of natural gas, has commissioned Neocogita s.r.l. to carry out a Lifestyle Assessment for 25 of its managers. The Lifestyle assessment is aimed at improving managers’awareness about the effects of their lifestyle on the body and consequently on their working performance, and identifying the best practices improving their psycho-physical wellbeing. It uses two wearable sensors to monitor physiological reactions to daily events (stress, energy recovery, sleep) and sedentariness during the day.

Measuring HRV (Heart Rate Variability)

Lifestyle Assessment
Lifestyle Assessment – recovery during sleep

The first sensor is worn for 72 hours (two working days and one day off) and monitors heart rate variability (HRV). HRV provides a detailed framework of the body’s reaction to stressful events and habits, it also gives information about the quality and quantity of recovery and the effects of physical activity. The graphic visualization of objective measurements, such as HRV, allowed participants to become aware of their habits. They were able to identify the dysfunctional ones and learned to adopt the most suitable corrective strategies thanks to an individual colloquium with a lifestyle expert. Without any knowledge and awareness about the topic, a good habit such as practising physical activity, but performed at the wrong time of day, produces negative effects rather than benefits on the body. For example, high-intensity physical activity towards the end of the day is associated with difficulties in falling asleep and a bed quality of sleep, which leads to an accumulation of fatigue that affects the activities of the days to come. In the managers’ group, it has been interesting discovering that, despite an adequate number of hours of sleep per night, for more than half of the participants (62%) the energy recovery was not optimal.

Being aware of sitting time

The second sensor, recording the number of seated hours, allowed participants to realize how sedentary their lifestyle was. As opposed to physical activity, sitting for a long time represents a risk factor for various physical diseases (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, etc..) and cognitive impairments (poor attention, reduced problem solving, etc..). Reducing the sedentary does not necessarily imply having to subscribe a gym membership, even small actions in the workplace (e.g. choosing stairs instead of the lift) can help to reduce the number of hours you spend sitting.

Customized action plans

Once Neocogita processed the collected information, it has been possible to provide participants with indications on how to modify bad habits and some guidelines to improve energy recovery, reduce sedentariness in the workplace and improve well-being.

It is a general belief that working and daily activities should not interfere with one another, though it is more and more evident the importance of balanced psycho-physical wellbeing in a person’s life.

Becoming aware of the habits, recovery times and the functioning of the body is a fundamental step to improve the performances in the working place, to monitor health issues and improve the quality of life.