According to the most recent Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, adult obesity rates now exceed 35% in seven states, 30% in 29 states and 25% in 48 states.
It’s no surprise considering how much time we spend in our cars today; a new study published by the safe-driving app Drivemodeshows that in my home city of Atlanta, our average commute after 4:00 p.m. is nearly 53 minutes while in the morning, our average commute is roughly 50 minutes on the road, sometimes just inching one mile in 2.3 minutes.
The Hamster Wheel of Life
Commuting from Cherokee County, if I left my house after 6:30 AM, it would take me over an hour to drive 17 miles to work. Often, I would spend over an hour in the car after work. To try to bypass some traffic and have dedicated time for myself to workout, I resorted to waking up at 4:00 AM for nearly two years. By the time I got home from work, I was stressed out from the traffic and caught up in the hamster wheel of life; being a mom, wife, the neverending laundry with two growing boys, three dogs to care for, trying to maintain a clean house combined with the endless things to do for work, I was unbalanced and developed poor sleep habits, often surviving on 4 to 5 hours of sleep, rarely spending time outdoors. Subsequently, I burning out at my last job which I left in May of 2018; I desperately needed a mental break to reset.
Taking a break from work may have been the greatest thing to have happened to me. I finally had the time I needed to catch up on my health and just breathe for the first time in 13 years!
Over the course of the last several months, I have rekindled my love of running and have just completed my first full marathon, training in the country roads of Cherokee County. Had I still been working, there would have never been time to train like this; I would still be on a treadmill with zero chance of building up my endurance to run 26.2 miles. Through my 18 mile outdoor runs, I rediscovered just how beautiful Cherokee county is and how fortunate I am to live here.
I have also become an active member of our community, serving those in need through various nonprofit organizations including the Atlanta Track Club, St. Jude, High Museum, Habitat for Humanity, Girls on the Run, Kate’s Club and the Alliance Theatre.
Skyrocketing healthcare costs
I am not the only one impacted by long commutes; during one of my son’s recent track practices, I was chatting with another parent who shared how his commute was preventing him from running as much as he would like, subsequently leading him to gain 20 lbs.
With stories like these, it is no surprise our healthcare costs are skyrocketing. We are so pressed for time today that we are making poor choices that are hurting our health; our eating on the go is resulting in weight gain, we have developed poor sleep habits, face chronic stress, not exercising nearly enough and spending way too much time indoors.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently reported out that the U.S. healthcare tab will continue to grow more quickly than the rest of the economy and by 2026, healthcare spending will account for nearly 20% of the U.S. economy!
Working Remote and Flex Hours
The traditional hours of 8:00AM to 5:00PM was designed decades earlier when one spouse was working without the technology we have today. According to Pew Research Center, Two-parent households where both parents work full-time today make up 46 percent of the population, compared to 31 percent in 1970.
Thanks to tools like Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts and countless other technology apps, we can now “see” one another and work together anytime, anywhere! While face time will always be critical, more flexibility from our employers to work remote as needed coupled with more flexible hours will result in happier, healthier and balanced employees resulting in more productivity and higher engagement while driving down healthcare costs.
As I continue to search for jobs, it surprises me how many job postings I have come across still reflecting the traditional hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the office yet our healthcare costs are going through the roof and the engagement rate in the corporate world is dropping. The 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement Report, which covered more than five million employees at over 1,000 organizations around the world, showed that less than one-quarter of employees are highly engaged and 39% are just moderately engaged.
Perhaps it is time to reconsider this traditional model to better align with our needs today?