Exercising at Work
Finding time is always a challenge. It's just gotten easier.
April 24, 2000 (San Francisco) -- Until about six months ago, 38-year-old
Marty Shaver, a supply manager at Motorola in Palmer, Texas, could have been a
poster boy for the couch potato elite. Although he'd been an accomplished
athlete in college, his grown-up responsibilities had gradually squeezed
workout time from his schedule. His weight hovered about 30 pounds above what
it had been during school, and his cholesterol level had crept above 200. He
kept trying to exercise, but between his two small children, his demanding job,
and a lengthy daily commute, his good intentions kept slipping away.
Shaver's situation, of course, is all too familiar to millions of working
Americans. Currently only 15% of adults engage in the recommended 30 minutes of
moderate activity five days a week, according to the Surgeon General's
"Healthy People 2000" report, issued earlier this year. Indeed, the
only age group that's actually become more active during the past decade is
people over 65 -- perhaps because they've left the time pressures of the
workaday world behind.
But Shaver has gotten some help from a surprising ally: his employer.
Motorola recently opened a fitness center on the first floor of his office
building, and after just a few months, Shaver has become a veritable gym rat.
When he's not putting in hour-long stints on the elliptical trainer, he can
often be found exercising his competitive juices on the racquetball court.
"It's a huge convenience," he says. "Instead of going down the
stairs and straight out the door at the end of the day, I simply take a right
at the bottom of those stairs and hit the gym for an hour."
The Surgeon General would certainly be pleased. In a recent unveiling of the
"Healthy People 2010" national health promotion project (and on the
heels of the dismal progress report on "Healthy People 2000"), David
Satcher, MD, PhD, cited getting people moving as the number one public health
goal for the next ten years. And the workplace, he said, should play a stronger
role in this effort. More employers should "provide supportive worksite
environments and policies that offer opportunities for employees to incorporate
physical activity into their daily lives," he says.
Why put the onus on the workplace? "People spend more time at work than
they do anywhere else," says Yvonne Ingram-Rankin, president of the
Association for Worksite Health Promotion (AWHP), based in Northbrook, Ill.
Indeed, she and other exercise experts say that corporate fitness programs are
tailor-made for the reality of working Americans' lives.
"By far, the number one reason people give for not exercising is that
they don't have enough time," says Richard Cotton, PhD, exercise
physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. "To get
someone to exercise, we've got to help them carve out the time. Having a gym at
your fingertips does just that."