Some Workers Using Recession to Get Healthy

July 8, 2010 ( – It can sometimes be hard to find a silver lining in tough economic times, but a new CareerBuilder survey suggests at least two  – workers are apparently eating healthier lunches and smoking less.   

Forty-seven percent of workers report they have been packing a lunch more often to eat healthier or help save money.  When it comes to smoking habits, 44% of workers who smoke said they are more likely to quit smoking because of the economic downturn.  

Twenty-one percent have cut back the number of smoke breaks during the work day. Of workers who smoke, 78% said they take up to ten minutes for each of their smoke breaks a day. Seven-in-ten (70%) report they take up to three smoke breaks a day, while 12% take more than five smoke breaks in a work day.  

“Economic stress over the last year has caused some workers to reflect on their habits, and many of them have turned to healthier routines,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, in a news release. “In addition to helping cut personal costs, employees who limit their smoking and lunching out habits are taking better care of their overall health. This type of better-for-you behavior can be encouraged by companies who implement wellness programs, healthy living challenges or smoking cessation support.”  

While some workers are embracing healthier habits, heavier workloads and added stress associated with downsized operations may have other workers taking a different direction, according to CareerBuilder.   

Lunch breaks are apparently getting squeezed. Some 32% of employees report they take less than a half hour for lunch, while 5% take less than 15 minutes. One-in-ten never take a lunch break and 16% report they work through their lunch hour. Nearly one-in-five (18%) typically don’t leave their desks during their lunch break and eat in their workspace five days a week.  

Other multi-tasker employees report they use lunch for activities other than eating: 

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

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 4,498 U.S. workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non government); ages 18 and over between May 18 and June 3, 2010.