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Why Your Leaders Should Start Exercising

We often equate work ethic with raw hours spent. But all that time behind a desk can have a serious impact on physical health…which matters as much for a great leader as any skill or business acumen.

Leaders are more effective when they exercise. In turn, your organization is more effective.

Where’s the Correlation?

A study published in the Creativity Research Journal showed a positive increase in “creative ability” two hours after moderate aerobic exercise. The Mayo Clinic also found that regular exercise can lessen symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

You’ve probably heard of endorphins, and they’re the brain chemicals responsible. When triggered – usually by physical activity – they activate pleasure receptors in the brain.

What are the Benefits?

Your leaders are your most active strategic drivers. When they work better, your organization works better!

The benefits of creative ability are obvious, especially for strategic decision makers. Puzzling through a cobweb of conflicting stakeholders, regulations and more can wear even the most seasoned leader’s brain out. Leaders who are more creative will find faster and more effective solutions to these problems, creating new operational efficiencies.

Less stressed leaders also interact better with others. When group decisions come up, negotiations will be smoother and less stressful. That translates to faster turnaround and a better bottom line.

What Can Be Learned?

Regular exercise is – like many tasks at work – a hard routine to love. It’s exhausting and takes away from more immediately gratifying activities like a post-work drink or catching up on Netflix. Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin said something about writing that can be applied to exercise: “I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written.” Conquering it is a lesson in patience.

Exercise also ties into work life balance: dedicating serious time to both personal and professional endeavors shows respect for both. It reminds leaders that other facets of life deserve time.

Finally, it shows that leaders should never stop improving. As a mile grows to a 5k, as 5 reps turn to 10, leaders who exercise learn to chase and appreciate goals.

Plus they feel good. Which may be the most important part of all.

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