The classic image of the high-powered executive is one of a workaholic, dedicating long hours at the office tempered with little sleep and a lot of Scotch, or the pale and soft tech guru who appeared to avoid sunlight and exercise at all costs. While evidence has long suggested that exercise is important to everyone’s health, it seemed these juggernauts of business exempted themselves. Now, executives from Bill Gates to Michael Canzian extol the value of exercise and its benefits.
1. Exercise Increases Productivity
Exercise isn’t just about your physical health but mental health. Exercise reduces your stress reactions allowing you to have better focus and concentration. In fact, exercise can overcome your hereditary likelihood of developing cognitive dysfunction to some extent, increasing neuroplasticity and slowing the mental signs of aging.
Another way it increases productivity is by reducing the number of sick days each person needs. Poor health leads to poor productivity. A study out of the Netherlands indicated that employees who engaged in three days of strenuous exercise per week called in four days fewer each year than their non-exercising counterparts.
Another study in Wisconsin found that exercisers reported half as many upper respiratory symptoms requiring a day off compared to their counterparts. Interestingly, meditation reduced missed days by another half compared to the exercise group. It’s interesting to consider what the combination of exercise and meditation could achieve.
2. Exercise Increases Quality of Life
Of course, beyond being more productive, executives, like everyone else, are looking for the physical benefits of exercise. When you don’t exercise you are speeding the aging process: sagging muscles, loss of muscle mass and a slowed metabolism are the results. Exercising reverses these trends if you’ve become sedentary. You can build muscle mass, tone your body and increase your metabolism.
3. Exercise Pushes ill-health away
Exercise reduces chronic pain that develops from inactivity and positively affects your heart and lungs. It reduces stress hormones like cortisol that create extra work for your heart. In addition, it raises your good cholesterol and lowers your triglyceride production. In the U.S., someone dies every 36 seconds from heart disease. An exercise program is one way to reduce your risk of being one of them.
When you take time to exercise you’re doing something good for yourself and it can be a time to connect with family and friends or get back to nature. It’s a balance to office time that makes your office time more productive and your personal time more meaningful.