Present-ism is bad for your health – official!
When economic times are tough, organisations naturally embrace a ‘do more for less’ approach and employees can end up looking over their shoulders because they’re uncertain what’s around the corner and what might happen to their jobs. Consequently present-ism at work can endemically creep into the culture.
By present-ism I mean that situation where you don’t want to be seen as the first one leaving the office and an unwritten code appears where the culture centres around staying late and being seen to stay late – reinforcing how committed you are as an employee. What a load of old rubbish that is! Present-ism means that Mr or Mrs Efficient, who works smartly and completes their work within their allotted hours (or even early), is perceived as ‘skyving off’, whereas someone who is less efficient and takes much longer to compete tasks is perceived as ‘a good Company man (or woman)’.
Of course I realise that it’s not quite as simplistic as that but the thrust of my point is that working long hours is bad for your health. Don’t just take my word for it though because new research published in the journal ‘Heart’ has identified that present-ism is a killer. Literally!
The study which was based on a sample of 5,000 Danish men aged between 40 and 59 found that those working between 41 and 45 hours per week were almost 60% more likely to die of heart disease than those who were working fewer hours! And if that wasn’t enough, the research also found that if you were unfit, your risk of dying from heart disease increased even further! However there is a silver lining to that horrible cloud! The researchers also stated that men who were physically fit coped much better with longer working hours and the conclusions drawn were that if you are working long hours then maintaining your physical fitness is crucial.
Now I’m sure that many readers will be thinking, ‘well I easily top 41 hours in work each week’ so we all have to do what we have to do to make ends meet so the solution is to factor in fitness to your week so that your body is better able to cope with the stresses and strains of extended working.
As a real-life example, I have a Personal Training Client who whilst living locally, works over 150 miles away and his working week includes after hours meetings and functions, some foreign travel and a lot of pressure. Having seen many of his contemporaries succumb to stress, obesity and even heart attacks, he values our twice-weekly Personal Training sessions as an essential component of his life; enabling him to continue to function in both his working roles and for his all-round health.
So my message is that Okay, whilst you may be working more than ever before, you need to factor in additional strategies to enable you to cope with that load, both for now and your long-term health. Hence this week I’m looking at the different ways that you can still include exercise in your life, irrespective of your other commitments.
1. I’ll tell you what I want (what I really, really want . . .). The phone never stops ringing, you open up Microsoft Outlook to a full inbox, everyone wants a piece of you, it’s just one thing after another. If that sounds like your working day then you need to take stock and identify what you really want. Is a 24/7 working culture right for your health? And if you decide it isn’t then you really can make time for exercise because despite arguments to the contrary, we can all make time for the things that we really, really want to do.
2. Don’t add to your stress. Your training and exercise should be therapeutic in many different ways. You’re removed from the working environment, you’re contributing positively to your present and future health and you’re feeling good both during and after your workout. However you can over-focus upon training performance and results such that your training then becomes simply an additional stressor; completely opposite to what we want to achieve. For example, for the Personal Training Client that I mentioned earlier, I will continually assess all elements of our sessions and modify them as necessary in order to ensure that the training loads don’t invoke excess stress.
3. Big gains, small commitment. Earlier I mentioned Companies wanting to do more with less and in a way, that should be your goal with your exercise and training. We’ve established that you haven’t got a great deal of time so it’s imperative that you maximise your training time, getting the most out of the time that you are able to commit. So that means correct structure, correct exercises and no wasted time. It’s goodbye to your workout being a social opportunity, or ‘attending instead of participating’ and it’s hello to ‘the most for the least’. As with my very busy Client, it’s about efficiency – big gains, small commitment.
4. Enjoy, enjoy, ENJOY! Now this is the most important one of all. Why do some people drink red wine whilst others drink white? Why do some people drink Lager, yet others stick to Bitter? It’s all about enjoyment and what you personally prefer. I know the most effective and time-efficient exercises for weight-loss but if a Client doesn’t enjoy that form of training then we do something else. Whilst the results may take a little longer, that’s only part of the story because our Client will enjoy the journey, which engenders success. So, you need to enjoy your training, looking forward to it, not dreading it and inking it in your diary instead of looking for a way to have to cancel. It’s all about fun!
5. . . . and finally, So, one day, when you’re closer to your three score years and ten (hopefully more!) than you are now, do you think you’ll be sitting there wishing you’d spent even more time in work? I don’t think so. But you might just wish that you’d put more focus into your personal health and fitness when you had the opportunity to make a difference and put regular deposits in your bank of health. So say goodbye to present-ism and hello to a new and healthy you from all the body4life health & fitness Team – that’s me, Duncan, Dave, Alison and Tony (All present and correct – but always allowing time for our training!).
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