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Women Count Workout As Part Of Their Success

Michele Himmelberg The Orange County Register

They say scheduling exercise into their workday makes them feel better and work more effectively.

Working men have been doing it for decades, reaping huge benefits. They gain confidence and polish their self-esteem. They enhance their emotional and physical well-being, and their energy levels soar.

Working women have figured out the trick, but not en masse. Finally, they’re spreading the word:

If you want to climb the corporate ladder, first you have to pump iron. Or hike, bike, run, walk, swim. Kick a ball. Swing a racquet. Step through an aerobics routine.

In a national survey, 92 percent of working women said they believe increasing their participation in sports and fitness would enhance their careers. That’s a stunning number - almost everybody. Even if it’s 92 percent of the 259 working women surveyed, it’s a huge slice. The Coors Brewing Co. commissioned the survey.

If you don’t trust the numbers (and there are a lot more), consider this from Christine Diemer, who brings the message to work.

“Everyone should be making sure I work out,” says the executive director of the Building Industry Association in Orange County. “It leads to a better Christine Diemer on a daily basis.”

Diemer, 45, is an avid hiker who schedules Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. to leave the office and hit her favorite trails in north Laguna Beach. She confesses being crazy about her treadmill, a passion she shares with a few cohorts.

“I feel so different about the workday when I’m done,” said Diemer, who escaped for a few days of hiking near Truckee, Calif., last month. “It releases so much frustration and helps me remember that I can overcome obstacles. Scaling a steep hill reminds me that I can take on challenges and accomplish things.

“That carries over to your attitude. Pretty soon, you’re seeing things that really bothered you at work aren’t all that important.”

A workout, and all the endorphins it sends surging through your body, can break the cycle of the bad day. The cool response to your project, the crabby customer and the impending deadline can slither away in sweat. Once purged, they don’t linger to spoil the rest of your day.

“I used to think I could come home and read a book to relax,” said Joan Gladstone, head of an Irvine, Calif.-based public-relations firm. “But it doesn’t work. I really need to do something physical to unwind, and I think that’s true for many of us who have a work life that’s a mental activity.”

Gladstone, 43, has rekindled her passion with cycling. She works out in a gym several days a week, puts in 9- to 10-hour days, and takes off on her bike on weekends. A 25-mile ride from south Laguna to San Clemente, Calif., is a cruise; a 60-miler is a challenge.

“Sometimes I can actually feel the stress roll out of my shoulders when I’m riding,” said Gladstone, who met her husband, Ed, in a cycling club last year.

More than half of the survey respondents said they cram sports and fitness into their well-stuffed appointment books. Seventy-two percent of women surveyed say exercise gives them a greater sense of happiness. Women who see themselves as successful are more likely to exercise regularly.

Remember all those “tomboys” back in the ‘70s? They have leaped into business. Eighty percent of women identified as key leaders in Fortune 500 companies participated in sports training during childhood and self-identified as having been “tomboys.”

The numbers are so overwhelming, why are the rest of us resisting? This sounds better than a fat pill with no side effects.

It’s like getting an extra hour in the day because you have more energy. And all you have to do is schedule it.


This sidebar appeared with the story: MOTIVATIONS Top five motivations women gave for participating in sports and fitness: 1. Improving physical well-being (87%) 2. Improving general appearance (80%) 3. Increasing energy (78%) 4. Reducing stress (76%) 5. Improving muscle tone (71%) Source: Coors Brewing Co. survey

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