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Erik Gerritsen (VWS): “It’s all about sufficient exercise, healthy food and what’s going on in your head”

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Secretary General Erik Gerritsen stays fit during corona with BioCheck

As Secretary General at VWS, Gerritsen works an average of 80 hours per week. Yet he tries to be as active as possible about his health: “I used to exercise a lot and now that I have been working as Secretary General at VWS for five and a half years, I am always busy finding ways to work on a healthy lifestyle. , without it costing me too much time and effort.”

According to Gerritsen, there are mainly three pillars that you should think about if you want to maintain your health, namely exercise, nutrition and “your head”, or your mental well-being. It is important that you “build” each of these three pillars into your daily routine.

Since the corona pandemic, the training room at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has been closed and everyone has been working from home. Due to the long days at home, it has become even more important for everyone to continue to exercise sufficiently. Gerritsen has previously followed several vitality programs and was curious about the BioCheck e-Health program: “BioCheck has taught me many small new things. So I gradually started walking outside much more, for example during personal meetings with someone.”

Cardio training and guidance from home

In addition to reducing sedentary work, Gerritsen also works on the pillar “exercise” every week. For example, he trains intensively for one hour at home three days a week to improve his fitness on a professional exercise bike. The BioCheck app ensures that he always trains within his own capacity – this means that the app calculates at what level you need to move, so that you train at the level at which your body is most balanced. This way you always train at your pace and your body can recover sufficiently.

Of course, Gerritsen is not only closely monitored by the app… He discusses his progress during video calls with Patrick van Luijk: “The app collects all kinds of statistics about your body, such as heart rate variability. Patrick discusses this data with me and indicates what is going well and what could be improved.” The daily measurements with the app monitor whether your body is sufficiently able to recover at rest. This contributes to better resilience and more energy during the day. This means you always train at your own level with BioCheck.

“One of the advantages of the BioCheck method is that it measures something in your body that you do not necessarily have to feel. The measurements therefore keep you alert in an objective way: are you recovering enough or not? This method of monitoring can prevent permanent overload or burnout for many people.”

Erik Gerritsen, Secretary General at VWS
According to Gerritsen, BioCheck’s approach differs from other vitality programs: “What I like about BioCheck is that they measure the variation in heart rate times. The great thing is that you also receive feedback, so that you know exactly what is happening in your body. The exercise program is increasing tuned on how you are doing.”

“Stay yourself nudging”

The Secretary General also has a good tip for the second important pillar, namely nutrition: “What always works well is to remain yourself. nudging with healthy food. For example, put out a bowl of peppers, tomatoes and carrots around lunchtime and you will see that it is gone by the end of the day.” According to Gerritsen, it is important that you make all those small changes in your diet, such as healthier snacks, a habit. You do snack anyway, so replace the peanuts with healthier alternatives.

Small changes can make a big difference in your daily life. Gerritsen: “I also started drinking less coffee. At first I drank six or seven cups of coffee a day.” In this way, Gerritsen always comes up with something to maintain those good habits, but also to learn new habits from time to time. “And I started taking zinc, but Patrick made me do that,” says Gerritsen, laughing.

Work on your breathing

BioCheck’s recovery and vitality programs place a strong focus on learning the physically correct way of breathing to improve your body’s ability to recover. This also applies to the e-Health program that Gerritsen is following. Gerritsen: “I now do the breathing exercise with the app three times a day. This way I started to pay even more attention to my breathing.” Gerritsen also uses another mindfulness app (Headspace). For him, this app, together with doing the daily BioCheck breathing exercises, contributes to the third pillar, namely “your head”, as Gerritsen calls it, or your mental health.

“Since I have been following the BioCheck program – and also thanks to the other health programs I have followed – I have noticed that I feel less tired throughout the day.”

Erik Gerritsen, Secretary General at VWS

Stay healthy your way

A number of Gerritsen’s colleagues also follow BioCheck’s e-Health program. Since the corona crisis, the program has been offered by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to all its employees.

According to Secretary General Gerritsen, the e-Health program is a good method for anyone who would like to work on their health in the areas of exercise, nutrition and/or mindset: “I would like to advise everyone to at least do something that you helps to learn healthier behavior. But the BioCheck program also applies: it must suit you. I always like to try different things that I think suit me well. It often works best that way for me.”


About Erik Gerritsen

Erik Gerritsen (1962) is a top Dutch civil servant. Since June 1, 2015, he has been Secretary General at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Gerritsen will leave as Secretary General of VWS on June 1, 2021. Gerritsen is married and has two daughters.


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