It's every non-exerciser's excuse: I don't have time to work out.

But now you do — at least if you live in the western Turkish province of Edirne. A new health initiative there allows government workers to come in an hour later than usual as long as they used that time for physical activity.

"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," Edirne Governor Dursun Ali Sahin told reporters at the project's launch.

The program, called Our Cure is Sport, is one way the Turkish government is trying to fight the growing problem of obesity, Fortune reports. Workers will have access to a dietitian, and they'll also get help finding a sport that they enjoy.

According to the World Health Organization, Turkey is third in the region in terms of the prevalence of obesity; 61.9 percent of the adults in Turkey are overweight and 27.8 percent are obese. (By contrast, 69 percent of Americans are overweight and 35 percent are obese, according to the CDC.)

The weight-gain trend is relatively recent. According to the Turkish Statistics Institute, obesity in the country increased 44 percent from 2002 to 2014.

The reasons for the increase aren't surprising. A report by the Ministry of Health of Turkey says residents rely on a bread-heavy diet that is light in fruits and vegetables, and consumption of fast food has increased dramatically, especially among children and adolescents in urban areas.

The study says only 3.5 percent of Turkish people exercise on a regular basis. And, of course, there's one other culprit: "... physical activity level decreases day by day among children and adolescents and more time is spent with TV or computer."

There's no word on if or how employees will be monitored to make sure they're hitting the treadmill instead of catching an extra hour of sleep.

This isn't the first health-conscious legislation from the Edirne governor. Last year, Sahin ordered that elevators be shut down for the first three floors in public buildings, forcing everyone to take the stairs. Only hospitals and nursing homes were exempt. Earlier, Sahin instituted a partial ban on sugar and salt in restaurants.

bikes in FinlandBicycles are everywhere in Finland where they're a common form of transportation. (Photo: Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock)

What can we learn from exercise-happy Finland?

As Turkey begins to address its problem, it's helpful to look to places that are ahead of the curb. One country where citizens seem to need little motivation to exercise is Finland. There are an estimated 30,000 sports facilities in the Nordic nation and about one-half of men and one-third of women bike to work.

Local governments spend about $700 million a year subsidizing sports facilities and clubs, reports NPR. Some lottery money also goes toward funding sports facilities and research.

The benefits to employee-supported exercise are apparently more than just good physical health.

"We have a lot of research showing that investing in work well-being will bring back as much as six times" the money invested, says Matleena Livson of the Finnish Sports Confederation. "Because you reduce sick leaves, you improve the cohesiveness and good spirit, and you improve employer image at the workplace."

Perhaps Turkey and the rest of the world will catch on.

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

Sure, you can be late to work … if you exercise
Turkish province of Edirne is trying all sorts of incentives to make a dent in the country's alarming obesity rate.