Strike a Work-Fitness Balance or Live to Regret It

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Strike a Work-Fitness Balance or Live to Regret It

It’s no secret that regular exercise and a good diet can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes and countess other conditions. Yet, nearly 80 percent of American adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise each week.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 minutes total—that’s only 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. Yet so many people claim they are skipping out on exercise because of lack of time, long work hours, proximity to facilities, family commitments, or lack of interest. But here’s the thing, regular exercise is one of the best ways to boost energy, increase productivity, and elevate your mood, so finding a way to make it part of your work day may help reduce fatigue and avoid adding extra hours to an already long work day.

Biggest Workout Roadblocks

In an exclusive report released to Paste Magazine from, their team surveyed over 2,000 people in the U.S. to find out what is keeping them from working out during the workweek and consequently, what would inspire them to take care of their bodies as well as their careers.

When survey respondents were asked what their biggest roadblock to exercising during the workweek was, almost 29 percent said they were just too tired, and another 27 percent admitted to being too lazy to make working out a priority. Other popular reasons for skipping exercise during the workweek included being busy with kids (9 percent), other commitments (nearly 9 percent), and working long hours (11 percent).

Given how critical fitness is to overall health, it’s important to take a look at how we can fit exercise in at the one place where many of us will spend a good chunk of our lives: the workplace. And considering that a large percentage of the workforce sits at a desk or spends the majority of their hours in an office, implementing a health and exercise programs inside the workplace is one way to tackle many of the excuses people give for not working out.

Preferred Methods of Exercise

When it came to working out during the workweek, survey respondents rated their desire to incorporate walking into their week 8 out of 10 (10 being the exercise they would definitely try during the workweek). Following closely behind was free time at the gym (7.2), walking the stairs (6.9), hiking (6.3), and treadmill desk (6.1). Rated the lowest by participants was Pilates (4.7), Spinning (4.5), and CrossFit (4.1).

Age, Location and Exercise Habits

All three generations surveyed (Millennials, GenerationX and Baby Boomers) ranked walking as their number one preferred workweek workout, free time at the gym as number two, and walking the stairs between work shifts as number three. But things change up a bit when the study looked at outdoor activities and competitive group sports. What they found is that millennials prefer to get outside and participate in activities like hiking and engage in team sports more than the older respondents.

And like most things in life, people are divided on the idea of exercising during work hours. When asked about fitting fitness in at work, workers in the South and Western regions of the country had the strongest positive opinion of mandated in-office workouts, while those in the Northeast and Midwest were the least inclined to support mandatory exercise sessions at work.

Why Workout at the Workplace?

Chronic diseases such as depression and hypertension can lead to a decline in the overall health of employees in a workplace, contribute to an increase in health-related expenses for employers and employees, and lead to lower productivity and/or days of work missed. Many businesses have realized the benefits of health promotion, and to curb the costs of rising health care offer workplace health programs to their employees

According to the study, there are several industries that would support mandatory in-office workouts. Half of the survey respondents in legal and agricultural professions (including forestry, fishing, and hunting) said they prefer having workouts built into their regular work days. Also high on the list was medical and health care, construction and utilities, marketing and advertising. manufacturing, government/public administration, finance and insurance, wholesale/retail, and education.

Are Treadmill Desks the Answer?

There’s no denying our workweeks are already filled with commitments to work and family, but finding just 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact on your well-being. According to the CDC, physical activity can do everything from improving mental health to preventing certain forms of cancer. But if the idea of carving out 30 minutes at a time has you turning down exercise before your shoes are even laced up, then you might want to try breaking your time up into three, 10 minute sessions throughout the day.

With walking being the highest ranked activity among those surveyed, the team decided to ask survey respondents how interested they would be in working out on a treadmill desk during the workweek. And what they found was that several professions including real estate, tech, government/public administration, science, education, marketing, and medical/health care responded positively to the idea of using a treadmill desk while working.

While treadmill desks can be a big step from the traditional office space and may take some time to get used to, they can offer the best of both worlds: exercise while working—a great way to get those three, 10 minute sessions in throughout the day. And who knows, maybe swapping out a few traditional work desks for treadmill desks could motivate the 40 percent of participants in the study that reported they were either too tired or too busy with their work life to find time to exercise.

Image: Upupa4me, CC-BY

Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness, and wellness.