A Trying Economy Means Healthier Habits for Some Workers

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Some students, whether in grade school, high school or college, can only work under pressure. They put off writing papers until the last few days — or minutes– before the deadline. While some pupils brainstorm, research, draft, edit, rewrite, ponder, rewrite, edit and finalize, others are waiting until the final moments to get to work. Pressure is their motivator. You can find workers who thrive under pressure in just about every industry. A graphic designer might work best the night before a meeting with her client. The manager of a retail store might do more tidying up in the ten minutes before the door opens than he did all morning.

Therefore you probably shouldn’t be surprised that workers needed some serious motivation to eat better and smoke fewer cigarettes. Forty-seven percent of workers say they have brought their homemade lunches to work in order to eat healthier or save money in light of the struggling economy, finds a new CareerBuilder.com survey. Perhaps more surprising is that 44 percent of workers who smoke admit they are more likely to quit smoking given today’s economy. In addition, 21 percent of surveyed smokers have decreased the amount of smoke breaks during the workday and 20 percent have already quit smoking.

The health benefit
The economy affected everyone on some level, and bank accounts were where most people felt the repercussions. Therefore workers looking to stretch their budgets probably realized the cost of a homemade sandwich was significantly less than one you buy from the local deli. Plus, scaling back on cigarettes or eliminating them as an expense means additional money in your pocket. Of course, the added benefit is that personal health also improves as a result. When you’re packing your lunch, you know you won’t be getting any ingredients you don’t want. And healthier lifestyles result in fewer medical expenses in the long run, which help your checking account balance.

The unhealthy effects
Still, economic troubles haven’t necessarily made every workplace a template for wellness. Having time away from the stress of the workday is important, yet 32 percent of workers take less than a half hour for lunch. Five percent of workers don’t even take a full 15-minute break. Perhaps most bothersome is that 10 percent never take a lunch break and 16 percent work through their lunch hour.

Not everyone is glued to their workspace during lunch, however. Workers like to multitask, as we’ve discussed, and many use their lunch hour to do more than eat. They use their breaks for the following:

  • Hanging out with co-workers – 23 percent
  • Running errands – 18 percent
  • Doing work – 16 percent
  • Walking – 10 percent
  • Shopping – 7 percent
  • Working out – 3 percent

So, has the economy improved your health habits at all? At a glance, the results of the survey aren’t surprising because brown-bagging your lunches is cheaper than paying $12 for a salad every day. And eliminating the cost of cigarettes is like finding extra money in your pocket. But you have to think some workers are eating as a result of stress or have had to cut out paying for a gym because of the cost. Let us know if your health habits have changed (for better or worse) as a result of the lackluster economy.

11 Comments
  1. Even though more people are health conscious the effect of everyday stress in the workplace seems to be increasing at an alarming rate.
    Staying healthy also means less trips to the doctors office, which can be costly with the price of co pays going up every year.

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  3. Whether the economy is good or bad, the motivation to stay fit and healthy should be a prerequisite for all workers. Being self-employed, this is one thing I am highly conscious about and try to maintain regardless of my schedule. The pressure, I’d think is higher for me since if I stop working (due to illness or some other medical or health concern), then I am in big trouble. The economy just tends to push us closer to that direction as a matter of practicality. The proverbial carrot on a stick, if you may.

    If anything the economy reminds me even more to eat better, to stay active and to keep my mind sharp and focused, as well as ready for changes…because you never know what to expect so you have to be ready. That alone will keep me from being stressed, and from there I know I can keep going no matter where what kind of turn the economy makes in the next few months (or years).

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter if you need me)

  4. Sure am glad I ran into this today. I have been wondering a lot about the effects of the economy in a lot of arenas & IF people are learning from the situation. PLUS – I have just suffered from a “toxic” situation at work and am NOT looking forward to returning to the job. Ms. Durre’s publication is bound to be of assistance to myself and other “civilized” co-workers. Thanks to All

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