Fitness and work: Putting them together

By: Frank Danna, III

Recently, I’ve had to revisit a topic which has the potential to cause frustration between employers and employees.  I don’t particularly believe that it has potential to cause termination (between either party), but perhaps it can.  I have read articles and blog posts on this topic in the past, so I know this topic has been covered.  I figured it would be worthwhile to share my experiences with regards to this matter, because my situation may be slightly different.

Fitness has been a large part of my life for the last 20+ years of my 33 year adventure.  I was active through grade school, participated in JROTC in High School, went to The Citadel, was a soldier in the U.S. Army, and most recently a competitive cyclist.  As my dad has affectionately told me: “Son, you’re glutton for punishment.”  He was right then and still is today!  Like everyone, I’ve had periods in my life where my fitness level hasn’t been up to snuff.  Been there, done that.  I believe that now, however, I have finally reached a period in my life where I realize just how crucial fitness is to our lives.  I realize that my sport may be a departure from basic fitness, but we’ll discuss that in a later post.

Why should your employer care about any of this when it pertains to you?  Prepare for an answer you’ve probably seen before.  Fitness results in more energetic and productive employees.  While I agree with that statement it IS NOT the primary reason we keep ourselves in good fitness.  The reason we keep ourselves in good fitness is entirely selfish: happiness.  Yes, happiness.  Being in great shape, makes you happier.  Is that scientific?  I don’t know, but it’s absolutely true for me.  My workout, no matter if done in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening, improves my mood.  I can quantify this because typically I am most productive within 3-4 hours post workout.

You get the point.  Fitness is good for you.  You probably know that already, which is why you are reading this post.

If fitness is a big part of your life, then you’ve likely worked out during a lunch hour, on a break, etc.  It is also likely that someone within your workplace sees this, and invariably complains to someone who complains to your boss.  Personally, I don’t get it.  If I am doing my job properly and managing my time efficiently, it’s no ones business what I do on my breaks/lunch hour, especially before or after the time clock is running.  Obviously that is not the dialogue you want with your employer.  We want our employer to understand why fitness is important to us, and how it positively impacts how you perform your job.  There is absolutely no reason to have some sort of hostile improvident discussion with your boss regarding this matter.  Keep it simple, keep it professional, and keep it logical.

Let’s get to the point: How do you get your boss to understand this?

My response is simple: fitness is important to me because it makes me a better me.  What boss doesn’t want the best version of all of his/her employees?  What boss doesn’t want a healthy workforce?  Without getting scientific, there are studies proving that excersize improves immune function (i.e. less sick days).  That is a huge benefit alone!  What boss doesn’t want an energetic workforce?  Again, studies have shown fitness level is related to energy level.  Perhaps this argument is just too simple.  Perhaps this argument is entirely too presumptuous that your boss even cares about your health and well being.  If the latter is the case, then perhaps it’s time to move on.  Yep, I said it.  Fitness is more important to me than my job.  I don’t work out to be a better employee.  I work out to be a better me.  I work out to set the example for my children.  I work out because I don’t like spending time at the doctor’s office.  I work out because I enjoy it.  I work out because it’s who I am.


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