We all know fitness is important to our health, but did you know it can also be good for your business? Elizabeth Robinson, a Philadelphia-based personal trainer and creator of VitFit, a mobile app for customizable downloadable workouts and Dega Schembri, co-owner of City Fitness Gym in Washington D.C., say regular physical activity can make you a better entrepreneur.
Here are seven ways physical activity can improve the health of your business:
1. Build your network.
Whether working out at the gym or participating in a team sport, fitness can help you network with prospective clients or strengthen existing business relationships. Robinson met several of her business investors and clients through fitness activities. "A lot of barriers break down when you're working out with somebody," says Robinson. Fitness challenges open a window into individuals' personalities and allow you to communicate with others in a very different way and consequently learn more about each other than would normally be possible over a cup of coffee.
2. Get your creative juices flowing.
Exercise not only tones muscles, but improves brain power. A 2012 study by the Montreal Heart Institute showed aerobic exercise increased cognitive function. This is because exercise increases blood flow to your brain, meaning a jog might be just what you need before a brainstorming session.
3. Reduce stress.
Physical activity reduces stress hormones and increases the production of endorphins that give you a natural high. Getting in a workout, whether before work or during the workday can allow you to approach your work with a calmer mindset. "The more stressed you are, the more unable you are to make really good, rational business decisions," says Schembri.
4. Boost your confidence.
Whether building a business or going through a rough patch, even the smallest fitness win can help you gain the confidence you need to achieve larger goals in your business life. "Having a great workout translates into every area of your life, making you feel more accomplished at the end of the day about everything that you do," says Robinson.
5. Overcome business challenges.
Training for a fitness challenge such as a marathon can help entrepreneurs re-learn the importance of goal-setting and determination. Schembri participated in her first triathlon when she was 58-years-old and says the vigorous training regime she underwent to achieve her fitness goals helped her to be a more tenacious entrepreneur. Removing the word "can't" from her vocabulary made her view obstacles as simply another challenge to be overcome, she says.
6. Improve your energy.
Ditch your morning cup of coffee and head to the gym instead. A 2008 study published in the Journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics concluded that inactive individuals who normally complained of fatigue experienced increases in energy of up to 20 percent and decreased fatigue as much as 65 percent by participating in regular, low-intensity physical activity. "Exercising regularly helps you sleep better, and if you sleep better you’ll have more energy during the day," says Schembri.
7. Learn to let go of control.
"A lot of business owners think that they have to do it all, [but] there's a lot of stress that goes along with that level of control, power and decision-making," says Schembri, who argues power-hungry entrepreneurs can benefit from a personal trainer. "When you hire a trainer you're acquiescing to someone else, accepting that you're going to let them direct you," says Schembri. Participating in team sports can also teach control-freak entrepreneurs about the importance of entrusting others with important tasks, proving they don't have to do it all on their own to have a successful business.