My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Ready For Anything

Marathon Runners Make Better CEOs, Study Finds

Guest Writer
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Successfully running a large company is kind of like running a marathon: Both require diligence, commitment, work ethic and strategy. But does being a marathon runner make you a better leader?

Yes, at least according to new research published on the Social Science Research Network, which "finds a positive relation between CEO fitness and firm value." 

The researchers set a pretty high bar for what they deemed to consider CEO fitness -- i.e. successfully completing a marathon in a given year (jogging a few times a week doesn't cut it).

Related: 10 Quotes to Get You Through the Marathon of Entrepreneurship

Using data on CEOs of S&P 1500 companies from 2001 to 2011, they determined which CEOs had, on any given year, completed a marathon, and matched these findings with each company's market value as compared to its book value from that same time period. Companies helmed by marathon runners, the study found, were 5 percent more valuable than those led by non-"fit" executives even after controlling for CEO, firm and governance characteristics, past performance and firm fixed effects.

The researchers wanted to show that marathon runners made better executives because of their increased fitness, not because marathon runners, as a group, share similar pre-existing characteristics.

To do this, they looked at groups of CEOs who were particularly likely to experience high levels of stress "under which CEO fitness should be most beneficial," including older CEOs (over the median age of 55), high-tenure CEOs (increased risk of burnout), and CEOs with a high workload (defined by the study as those who sit on multiple corporate boards). In each of these 'high stress' groups, companies led by a "fit" CEO were 8 percent to 10 percent more valuable.

Related: Ways to Strengthen Your Willpower Muscle

This, of course, doesn't entirely eliminate the possibility that marathon-running CEOs share personality traits that make them good at their job, but the study's authors are nonetheless confident they're onto something.

"Fitness moderates stress and increases cognitive and job performance. Thus, it should be relevant for CEOs as they face high levels of demands and responsibilities, particular work stress and physical requirements," the study concludes, before taking things a step further: According to the study's authors, a chief executive's fitness level is a pertinent piece of information that should inform shareholders' investing decisions and executive recruiting firms' hiring choices.

In other words, the next time you're deciding whether or not to invest in a company, do your due diligence and make sure its CEO has run a marathon in the past year.

Related: 8 Ways Rookie CEOs Can Succeed Faster

More from Entrepreneur

Michael Peggs expertise in SEO, PPC and paid social advertising can help you step up your marketing and advertising game.
In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur