We work hard. But modern jobs–clicking on a computer, working on an assembly line or operating a cash register–make you stressed and tired, not fit. According to a 2001 Health Canada report, the number of people working more than 50 hours a week has actually doubled within the past decade. Tally up your commute and unpaid work (kids, house, parents) and you’re left with little time for exercise or making homemade healthy meals.
Our workplaces aren’t helping either; they often keep us glued to a chair all day and surrounded by a network of fast-food chains. We’re conveyed throughout our downtowns by elevators and escalators because stairwells are often locked or poorly lit. And while business owners know we’re happier if we’re fitter (Health Canada declared in a 1998 report that active people can cope better with workplace stress and are more efficient workers), few workplaces maintain a gym or have amenities such as showers, change rooms or bike racks. Even if you have access to a fitness club, inflexible work hours may make lunchtime workouts impossible. “When people are stressed or time-strapped, staying healthy drops as a priority,” says Veronica Marsden, president of Tri Fit, a Mississauga, Ont., consulting firm that helps companies set up fitness and wellness programs.
Max out your lunch break Walk, swim or take a fitness class over lunch. Ask your boss for an extra 15 minutes–that you’ll make up later–so you can eat, too.
Organize a fit workplace Form a walking club; set up stretch breaks every morning; recruit a fitness instructor to teach a weekly class in the boardroom; get a group discount at a local gym.
Advocate for a healthy workplace program Tell your boss that fit healthy workers take less time off, have fewer accidents and are generally happier, according to Health Canada. Contact the National Quality Institute (1/800/263-9648), which sets standards for healthy workplaces.