Do you have cake for colleagues’ birthdays? Vending machines in your break room? Cookies at staff meetings? Did you know that between one-third and one-half of Americans working today are in jobs where they are sitting for most of the day? With unhealthy foods and lack of activity, your workplace may be an unexpected obstacle to your health and fitness.When I started teaching at Rutgers University in 1995 there were three options for lunch within a 5-minute walk from my office on campus: Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts, and a vending machine. To compensate for my pizza and doughnut diet in those early years, I started working-out at the gym on campus. My workplace gym ritual didn’t last long. All too frequently (usually at the very moment I was struggling under an embarrassingly-light bench press), a student from one of my classes would say “hey professor — is that you?” with a smirk. The day I heard “hey Prof, do you need a spot?” marked the end of my workplace work-outs.What are your challenges to healthy behaviors at work? Nationwide Better Health, a subsidiary of Nationwide, conducted a survey of American workers on their workplace eating habits and physical activity. Their study revealed that 72% report eating an unhealthy snack more than once per week at work (13% snacking on unhealthy food at work 5 or more times each week). Only 42% of those surveyed reported that their company offered healthy food options. (I am happy to report that my workplace did add a deli with healthy food options next to the pizza and doughnuts.)Are you searching for ways to improve your workplace eating habits and level of physical activity? If you would like to read more about the steps you can take toward better health and fitness at work, I’d recommend reading the two-page article from Nationwide Better Health Survey entitled “Source or solution?: The workplace’s role in an unhealthy lifestyle”.
Health and fitness centres are great places to meet friends, make new friends or simply enjoy a work out by yourself. The centers can be anything from your local YMCA to a formal fitness club to an activity center, such as a senior center, that offers exercise or aerobic programs or even competitive sporting events. Most centre’s are membership driven and provide the necessary structure some of us need to keep a fitness plan on track.Health and fitness centers provide its members with professional or certified trainers that will assist members in setting up an exercise program to meet the desired goals, no matter what level of fitness you are at. Whether it is weight loss or weight maintenance, increasing strength or stamina or just plain old staying active, a health and fitness centre will provide all the know how needed.Being a member of a health and fitness centre provides its members access to a variety of equipment that might otherwise be cost prohibitive for the average person to purchase. While there are a lot of ways to stay in shape without the benefit of equipment such as gardening, yard maintenance, chopping wood or even painting a house, some folks like the idea of using a rowing machine or running on a treadmill to complete their exercise program. If members live in a climate that has winter, a fitness centre provides the environment for regular workouts.An added benefit to being a member of a Health and fitness centre is to be in the company of others with the same general goal and perhaps working with a professional trainer is just the motivation one needs to keep that goal in sight. It becomes members helping members achieve their fitness goals. And a lot us could use help doing that.When deciding on a health and fitness center to join there are a few things one should keep in mind before making the ultimate decision. Cost is probably the number one thing on your list. Make sure the membership fee fits in your budget. It is not going to do you any good if you have to work over time or take on a second job to be able to afford a membership. I don’t think “running” from one job to the other is the kind of exercise you might expect from a membership. Make sure the goals you have in mind are achievable with the programs and equipment the centre offers.Most centre’s offer a wide variety of programs for a wide variety of goals but I’m sure there are places that specialize in only certain areas of fitness. Location, location, location. Pick a health and fitness centre that is convenient to where you work or live if possible. Make sure the trainers are qualified to do what they say they can do. I shudder to think of the possible outcome of working with someone who might be better suited to repair vehicular engines than help tone up a human body.