With heart disease being the number one killer in the nation and obesity considered an epidemic, the Obama administration and the Surgeon General are touting prevention as the new goal. One of the suggestions is building more walk-able neighborhoods. All well and good, but considering the pace of our busy lives when are we supposed to fit in all that walking? If you’re unemployed you may already be walking the streets in the search for a job. Those more fortunate may be working several jobs in an effort to cover living expenses. Just finding time for exercise is one of the stressors already noted in the 2010 IBM commuter pain survey.
If the government were truly committed to reducing obesity and increasing heart health they would encourage, perhaps mandate, that employers allow flex-time and telecommuting as a health strategy. Companies who are skeptical could implement an accountability factor for exercise done. Some workplaces, such as Hunter Industries, give perks to employees who use on-site gyms . Morale, productivity and company loyalty would increase, making it easier for companies to keep valuable employees at the same time they are expecting ever more from them.
What does this have to do with the stressed out commuter?
I can imagine a world where the commute lanes are rarely used, freeways are comfortably paced at rush hour and work pressures are much less stressful. Companies would promote healthy commuting, and provide practical exercise breaks and education to make business travel less wearing.
It will take some time for the new government strategies to materialize, if they do at all. The GOP is already fighting to repeal the proposed funding. There’s no need to wait for a National Prevention Strategy. Employees can be pro-active. Begin the dialogue about flex-time and telecommuting to work. Make sure to point out benefits that will truly enhance the bottom line, including better morale, fewer workman comp claims, less heart disease and a slimmer staff.
Elaine J. Masters Travel Wellness Specialist and award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga.