Episode 25: Are Successful People More Fit or Fit People More Successful?

Episode 25 - Are Successful People More Fit or Fit People More Successful

Researchers have conducted numerous studies to determine the relationship between exercise and productivity in the workplace. To varying degrees, many studies have found some positive correlation between regular exercise and improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and fewer health-related work limitations — especially through participating in worksite fitness centers.

The fact is, when a person is being physically active their body goes into fight or flight mode. This response releases an endorphin called “Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF)” that gives you the ability to think more clearly and better respond to business demands.

When you exercise you actually increase the amount of BDNF in your Hippocampus, which is associated with heightened cognitive functions such as memory and emotion. Even better, studies show that this endorphin is sustained for as long as several weeks after exercise.

According to a survey by TheLadders.com, an online job resource, the vast majority of executives believe physical fitness is a substantial influencer of professional success. The results of the survey indicated 75 percent of executives believe good physical fitness is “critical for success at the executive level,” while just 4 percent said their physical condition was irrelevant to their careers. Similarly, 75 percent of executives said being overweight is a “serious career impediment.”

Some companies are even requiring their executives to go through leadership and management training that includes intense physical exercise. According to Fortune, Deloitte’s managing principal of talent development, Bill Pelster, has implemented a training program for top executives in which they are required to wake up at 6:00 a.m. and exercise at Westlake, Texas-based Deloitte University’s fitness center before beginning the leadership training portion of the program.

Interestingly, if you were to ask a successful person why they exercise and eat right, the above information would not likely be their answer. They just know that they feel good, have more energy and stamina, and stay healthier year round. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group says that he enjoys 4 additional productive hours per day when he gets his morning workout in. As a matter of fact, in a survey of 1300+ executives, 75% of successful executives said that physical fitness is critical for career success at the executive level and also said that being overweight is a serious career impediment.

Here are 3 things exercise does for you:

  1. Exercise refines your competitiveness. Exercise is tied to wealth-creation, according to one Finnish study that found that twins who exercised earned significantly higher incomes than their inactive siblings. The study was able to determine that regular exercise helps build the necessary character traits for work success.
    I’ve seen this in my own life. Completing tough workouts instill confidence and a positive sense of accomplishment, but to maintain my exercise regimen, I’ve had to sharpen my self-discipline and increase my capacity for self-sacrifice. These traits are directly applicable in a business environment.”
    I believe there are more benefits. I was able to refine skills related to efficiency, dedication, planning and focus to help me navigate through competing interests and opportunities. Even during periods of high stress, keeping exercise a high priority was an important part of maintaining a positive work environment.
  2. Exercise helps establish a healthy work-life balance. The most common justification for not engaging in regular physical activity is not having time and being too busy with work. However, research shows that incorporating exercise into your daily activities actually enhances a work-life balance, even though it may seem counterintuitive. According to researcher Russell Clayton, exercise lowers stress and anxiety levels, which is “tantamount to an expansion of time.” Also, exercise boosts confidence about accomplishing difficult tasks. A greater sense of effectiveness leads to higher productivity at work and confidence in the ability to balance work with one’s personal life.
  3. Exercise improves problem-solving skills. Entrepreneurialism is just problem solving for money. The better you are at solving problems — especially complex and challenging ones — the greater potential for income. According to the Washington Post, there is a direct link between exercise and problem-solving capabilities, creativity and planning. Just one workout can boost higher-order thinking skills, which in turn makes you more productive and efficient. Exercising your body benefits your brain because of the increased blood flow.

So, the question is, if you get fit now, can you improve your career success? I don’t see why not! Without question, you will improve your work performance and productivity, mental sharpness, and ability to manage stress. Just these things, alone, will likely improve your career not to mention your quality of life.

Research has shown just that. Vasilios Kosteas, Ph.D., of Cleveland State University, the study’s lead author, found that exercise increases cognitive function and confidence—both building blocks of financial success. Some eye-opening numbers from the study:

  • 9.0: Percentage by which the income of people who exercised regularly exceeded that of a person who sat around.
  • 5.2: Percentage by which the income of a person who exercises only one to three times a month exceeds that of someone sedentary.
  • 6.0: Percentage by which a master’s degree raises earnings.
  • 2.2: Percentage by which a sedentary individual who starts to exercise just a few times per month will see his weekly earnings increase.

So, how seriously do you take fitness and its importance in making you successful? I am amazed at how many people I know take better care of their car, their pets and everything else around except the one body they have been given. You can’t trade it in and get a better one; you are going to live in it till your time comes.

So, how can you make exercise part of your life and drive to success:

  1. Make exercise a part of your weekly schedule. In my weekly schedule, I note a minimum of 4 days to work out weekly. As long as I complete 4 times a week I am happy with that.
  2. Find an exercise routine and time that works for you. I can get my exercise routine done at home and don’t need to go to a gym I switched from hardcore Insanity Max routines to a Pilates and Yoga routine that challenges me and my fitness goals. Also, find a time that works for you; I like to work out in the afternoon unless I am traveling; morning or mid-day may work better for you.
  3. Travel does not give you an excuse. Now, just because you travel on business or vacation does not mean you don’t have to work out. When I travel I take my workout clothes and do a short 2 to 3 mile run or worst case do 50 squats, 50 pushups, 50 PIYO pike side planks, 50 burpees and 50 bicycle situps in my room.
  4. Find others who like to work out. Finding others who believe in working out and who can hold you accountable can help you tremendously.
  5. Reward yourself for success. Set fitness goals for yourself (lost weight/fat, increased muscle, etc.) and reward yourself. Its also okay to have a cheat day to eat one day a week so you don’t lose your mind.

I can personally attest to the difference fitness has made in my life and the ability its given me to push myself 24×7 in my personal and professional life. Life is tough enough; you need an optimized body to grind it out every day.

Take this fitness quote to heart: Fitness is like a relationship. You can’t cheat and expect it to work.

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