Government Workers in Turkey Can Start Work Late if They Spend That Time Exercising

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Good news if you’re a civil servant in Turkey’s Edirne province: you might be able to exchange your first hour of work for an hour of working out.

Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah quotes Edirne province governor Dursun Ali Şahin:

Donning a tracksuit and surrounded by a crowd of amateur runners, including directors of public agencies, for the launch of an anti-obesity project, Şahin told reporters the working hours of civil servants can be flexible. “Their shift starts at 8:30 a.m. but it is not a problem if they start at 9:30 a.m. as long as they do their morning exercises,” he said. Though it is not official yet, as the governor first needs to sign a regulation to that extent, it is expected that Şahin will go ahead with his plan to help keep public sector employees healthy, to which his past orders provide testament. He did not elaborate on how civil servants would be monitored to see whether they are actually working out or simply sleeping for an additional hour.

Why the new workout initiative? Well, the sources I’ve read so far don’t seem to mention increased productivity, greater physical strength and endurance, endorphins, or any of the other benefits that come with exercise. Instead, it’s all about—you guessed it—obesity.

To quote the Daily Sabah:

The prevalence of obese citizens is about 30 percent of the total population in Turkey, according to a survey by the Health Ministry – an alarming number for a country where a sedentary lifestyle has come to dominate the lives of millions, particularly the young.

Fortune attempts to provide a cultural context:

Additionally, however, extra weight has long been sought after, with proverbs such as: “A man without a belly is like a house without balcony.”

It’s nice to see that Turkey values #dadbod too.

The Cut reports that “seventy people have asked to join” the workout plan, which doesn’t seem like all that many people, honestly. (Total population of Edirne province: 390,428.) The Cut also notes that this plan will include advice on both diet and exercise:

Sahin’s program, called “Our Cure is Sport,” allows for participants to be counseled on what kinds of activities might be right for them and have access to a dietitian.

But there are a couple of questions still unanswered, such as:

—What if people exercise and improve their diet but don’t experience a significant weight loss? Will the program still be considered successful? Can we have Health At Every Size here?

—What if the people who don’t exercise realize that their co-workers are getting just as much work done in a 7-hour workday as they did in an 8-hour workday? Will the people who don’t exercise want an hour off work too?

Because isn’t that what Şahin is implying here? That there will be no negative consequences if Edirne’s civil servants work a slightly shortened workday, and that one hour of exercise per day will lead to weight loss.

Would you sign up for this kind of plan? If it turns out that Edirne’s civil servants will be monitored as they exercise, would that change your decision?




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