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Fitness important whether you’re employed, unemployed

You can fit the job description, but being fit also may improve your chances of securing that perfect position you’ve been craving.

As the unemployment numbers rise, attitudes toward fitness can fall, said Paula Pecorella, a personal wellness coach who has worked with hundreds of clients in Las Vegas for nearly a decade. It’s a bad business decision to put health and wellness on the back burner.

“Maintaining good health can make one attractive to the marketplace,” said Pecorella, who works with her partner Scott Morgan at 5755 S. Rainbow Blvd. “When you feel good your attitude is better, you come across with strength.”

When you are sitting in the interview chair, putting your best foot forward includes looking your healthiest. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day, from light walking to aerobic activity, can improve your skin, heart, weight and attitude.

According to the website business
knowledgesource.com employees who are not in good shape physically tend to take more sick days, up to nine more than healthy employees. Their productivity is three times lower than employees who are in good health and are less able to concentrate, making 60 percent more errors than healthy employees.

“Healthier employees create a healthy work environment,” she said. “It also saves companies money.”

A fit employee also shows the ability to set and achieve goals, which naturally cross over to the work place. If you are involved in a fitness group, for instance a biking or runners club, even a regular aerobic class that requires team work that can show the potential employer that you work well with others in working toward a common goal.

Pecorella has worked with local businesses that understand the importance of a healthy employee.

One of Pecorella’s clients, Liz K., had to take all of her sick days available for a debilitating asthma condition. After following Pecorella’s physical exercise regimen and diet, which included protein and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, she no longer worries about her position with the company.

“My personal wellness is key and a priority for me,” she said. “I haven’t had an asthma attack in 10 months and have not had a sick day in over 18 months.”

Another client, Heidi H. was unemployed when she started working with Pecorella.

“As a single mom, I never realized how my overall wellness affected more then just me,” Heidi, who is now gainfully employed, said. “Since taking ownership of my overall health and fitness, so much is better. My relationship with my daughter is better, I have avoided a third surgery, my stress is reduced and I feel as though I can manage emotions and life better; and a by-product is I lost 30 pounds and over 35 inches.”

Since the recession hit in 2008, Pecorella and Morgan have seen more clients who are looking to maintain their health while the economy slips.

“Staying fit, it allows you to know you are functioning at your optimum and allows one to stay alert and make good decisions when we are stressed,” Pecorella said.

A free personal wellness evaluation is available at her office, where individuals can learn their resting metabolic rate, lean muscle mass, body fat percentage, how much protein they need per day to maintain good muscle and burn fat, suggested healthy weight and more.

“We also offer a weight loss challenge and free nutrition class,” she said. ”Our most recent challenge participants lost over 100 pounds and over 10 feet of body inches and the winners shared in over $400 in prize money.”

She struggles with the notion that being healthy requires a healthy bank account.

“The misconception is it takes a lot of
money to be fit, or become fit and stay
there,” Pecorella said. “But that’s just not true, because at the end of the day to walk around the block doesn’t cost anything and it provides a great peace of mind.”

For those looking to fit exercise into their daily lives, she advises trying a few different options to find a comfort fitness zone that you’ll stick with through good times and bad.

“I recommend individuals find a form of fitness or exercise they like,” she advised. “If you don’t like a big gym, find a small one. If you like to be outdoors, walk in the park, find a buddy to keep you accountable. Walk with the family, go for bike rides, just get off the couch.” 

For her clients, she coaches them on how to eat healthfully for less than $3 a meal, “and that’s a lot less than going through the drive-through,” Pecorella said.

“You can still eat healthy, and it can be fast, and not spend a lot of money, you just need to know how,” she said. “I can’t believe how many people I know who are unemployed and still find themselves at the drive-through. I think part of it is a lack of education, they just don’t know what their choices are.”

Start your day with a healthful shake that includes a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and minerals. A good shake should have around 200 calories and set you on the right path for the rest of the day’s decisions, she said.

“It gives people the fuel that you need first thing in the morning,” she said. “A shake is not the typical heavy carbohydrate meal, like a muffin, so you feel better. It’s important to fuel the body in the morning and a shake is just powder and water in the blender with some frozen fruit and you are ready to go.”

For lunch she recommends a small salad with protein, such as tuna with a simple dressing, steamed fish or grilled chicken.

“It’s easy to prepare the night before and will save you money from those impulse buys,” she said. “The first thing people who may have lost their job need to cut out is the drive-through.”

Pecorella is currently hiring for both part-time and full-time positions.

“We are looking for wellness coaches,” she said, “individuals who have a desire to help others.”

Go to www.lvwlc.com for more information.

Making healthful choices can increase job seekers’ chances, said Kathy Gamboa, campus director, University of Phoenix Las Vegas campus and territory vice president for the Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming.

“When you feel good, your confidence typically increases and stress levels decrease, which is important during the interview process,” she said. ”If you feel balanced and confident, it is likely this will be reflected in your job interview.”

Look at the employer’s health benefit package and attitude toward employees’ overall health to better gauge the company’s commitment to its staff.

“As job seekers identify potential employers, a strong workplace wellness program with buy-in and participation from employees can be an indication that the employer values balance,” she said. “This can help set an employer apart and help attract highly qualified workers.”

Over the past decade, more employers have included wellness programs, which generally include supplementing fitness costs for employees, providing flu shots and other preventative care on site and providing smoking-cessation and other classes for free to staff.

“Fit or healthy employees tend to be more productive, require fewer sick days each year, help reduce the spread of seasonal maladies and often contribute to a happier work environment,” Gamboa said. “This is why more and more employers are bringing wellness programs into the workplace.”

As the economy continues to stumble, those worried about their jobs, or who are looking for a new job, can continue to move forward with a healthy stable of activities to choose from.

“When out of work, it is important to continue to maintain a schedule with a variety of activities,” she said. “Similar to the workplace, often individuals are more productive when they are balanced and have diverse assignments and activities.”

Several years ago, University of Phoenix launched a health and wellness initiative. The academic stalwart has continually enhanced the program by offering new resources, benefits and elements to keep employees motivated, she said.

“The Rev Wellness program provides faculty and staff members an in-depth resource to manage their health, nutrition and weight loss goals,” Gamboa said. “The Las Vegas campus has actively encouraged local employees to participate in this program by offering additional creative and fun activities, ongoing communication and support each month to the team. The Las Vegas campus hosts special events that promote exercise, team-building skills and healthier eating habits. For example, the campus has held an office Olympics event, pingpong tournament, Wii Fit and Dance Revolution competition as well as lunches that introduce employees to new recipes and snacks.”

University of Phoenix is currently hiring in many areas.

“The university is always interested in hearing from highly motivated and skilled individuals who are passionate about higher education,” she said.

Individuals who are interested in becoming part of the team at University of Phoenix can visit the careers link on Phoenix.edu.

“Our faculty members are by and large practitioners in their fields of instruction,” Gamboa said. “Our students benefit tremendously by learning from instructors with practical knowledge, and we find that individuals with real-world experience make the best teachers. While we don’t specifically require that individuals be actively employed in order to be considered for employment as an instructor, consistent with the standards of our accrediting bodies, we do require that they are actively engaged in their fields of expertise to ensure that their skills and knowledge are relevant and up-to-date.”

The importance of wellness programs has expanded over the past few years, particularly with large companies.

“I’m often asked by employers how to start an effective workplace wellness program,” Gamboa said. “In my experience, the most successful wellness programs begin with employee insight and buy-in. Consider surveying employees to better understand their views about health, nutrition, exercise and fitness. Also seek to uncover the roadblocks that employees say keep them from making healthy choices. This will help you set priorities and develop a highly relevant and employee-centric program.”

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