What being active every day can do for your career

We can all easily envision a member of the “boomerang” generation. A typical twenty-something still living at home, spending his or her days on the couch, overeducated and underemployed. As a recent CBC article made clear, a university education no longer guarantees gainful employment.

It’s disheartening, both to a generation of youth that were promised more and a generation of parents who believed they were doing everything they could to ensure their children’s lives were better.


Every good parent knows the key to a long and prosperous career is education. Stay in school is an adage that’s stood the test of time.

Yet, when everyone stays in school, the mantra loses its potency. To gain an edge these days, one needs to do more. Maybe it’s not the first thing you think of when you’re thinking about career advancement, but physical activity can give you that edge. Most Canadians aren’t active enough, even though there are many good reasons to believe that regular physical activity is a secret to success.


An Ernst and Young study produced the eye-popping statistic that 94% of female CEOs in America participated in sport growing up, many at a competitive level in high school and university. A possible reason they propose is that women who played sports are better able to lead and participate within teams, something that’s increasingly important in today’s complex and competitive business climate.

Other compelling explanations abound.

For starters, being physically active can improve self-confidence—a key predictor of how someone will fare throughout the hiring process.

Combine that with the increasingly popular notion that physically active people are better performing employees. People who exercise regularly, particularly on work days, are more productive after 7 hours of work than those who don’t. They have more energy, less stress, clearer minds, improved memory, enhanced concentration, and more creativity.

Physical activity also helps people strike a healthy work-life balance, leading to fewer sick days, greater efficiency, and better overall job performance and satisfaction. On average, former athletes earn 7% higher incomes than non-athletes.


Physical activity is obviously not a solution to high unemployment rates. In addition, most of these studies show correlation, not causation. Physical activity is no more guarantee than a university education.

Still, given that only 20% of adults and 9% of kids currently meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, moving more every day could certainly improve one’s chances of finding a job and starting a prosperous career.

The message to parents is clear: if you really want your twentysomething child out of your house, don’t let them spend their days sitting on the couch.