Office Athletes

Last night, while talking with my wife, she began to reminisce about her younger years.  My lovely wife is currently a stay at home mom and cares for our 3 young children.  Back in high school, she was a dominant lacrosse player which later led to a scholarship to play Division 1 level lacrosse in college at Virginia Tech.  Last night she pointed out how our kids will never know her as some amazing athlete but rather a responsible, caring and loving mom who is currently more apt to change a diaper and prepare a dinner than read a defense and score goals.  Lacrosse is no where on the spectrum of current day to day activities.

VT lacrosse

My wife is not alone in this situation.  I talk with many people on a daily basis who reflect back on their “glory days”, when they identified themselves as athletes rather than dads, accountants, customer service reps, etc.  My question now is, why does our society have to consist of work and athletics as a dichotomous relationship rather than a symbiotic relationship where physical activity and work performance enhance one another?  In our current system, our society as a whole exercises the 3 C’s (car, chair, couch) far too much, resulting in a system where people are often sick and unproductive.

What is the big deal about America’s level of inactivity you may ask.  In addition to putting a significant strain on our current healthcare system, it is also financially straining in the workplace.  A 2013 Forbes article lists the annual costs related to lost productivity in the workplace at $84 billion.

For a different perspective on workplace wellness, I found a recent NPR story about the blending of sports and work in Finland.  The following are some of the highlights from this story:

  • 90% of men and women play sports 2x/wk
  • Finland is frequently listed in the top 5 most physically active countries in the world.
  • the nation has over 30,000 sports facilities for public use
  • Finns frequently make top 5 list of most active adults in the world
  • 1/2 men, 1/3 of all women bike to work
  • Most companies allow employees 1hr/wk of paid sports time
  • On avg, companies spend $220/employee/year for exercise
    • motivation for companies includes:
      • fewer sick days
      • builds team work
      • tax deductible
      • improved efficiency
      • saves Finland $6 billion dollars annually in health care costs.

So what will it take for the United States to make a change in our collective health?  Where do we begin?  Why not start with Physical Therapists?  After 7 years of education and earning a doctorate degree, we are to be the musculoskeletal experts.  Many people know a thing or two about exercise and health just like they may know a thing or two about savings and investing.  Since many people will hire financial professionals to help with budgeting and investing, why not consider hiring a physical therapist to assist in developing a plan for your overall health.  A plan may include everything from a full body evaluation to locate muscle and joint flaws, manual techniques to restore muscle tone and range of motion and a home exercise program to provide strength in weak muscles.  Just like with my finances, a random budget yields random results.  A specific health evaluation and exercise program can help you to reach specific goals to prevent or eliminate specific flaws.

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