Personal Health

Exercise Isn't Just Good for You. Your Startup's Success May Depend on It.

When it comes to “getting it done,” entrepreneurs fare better than most at setting ambitious personal goals and achieving them. After all, it takes a lot of self-control and determination to launch a business and see it through to fruition.

But regardless of their heightened sense of personal drive, even entrepreneurs find it difficult to get in the mood to exercise.

Related: Your Health Is Your True Wealth

After a long day at the office, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to come home, plunk down and fall asleep with their face in a TV dinner or tell themselves that they deserve a moment of rest. Entrepreneurs can also fall victim to an “all or nothing” mindset in which they feel compelled to focus 100 percent of their energy on a particular endeavor, usually sacrificing fitness.

But putting off exercise isn’t just hard on your health. You’re also passing up the opportunity to be more productive, clear-headed and consistent.

The unexpected business benefits of fitness

Eating well and exercising aren’t just about looking good and improving your health. Regular workouts are key to operating at peak performance.

When you work out, your body assumes it’s under threat. It goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing an endorphin called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor.” This soothes ruffled neurons and promotes a sense of clarity, allowing you to think more clearly and respond better to business challenges.

Working out also bolsters your consistency -- a key driver to startup success. When you get into a routine of exercising regularly, you instill habits of follow-through and commitment that will carry over into your business.

Finally, working out is scientifically proven to make you happier. Exercise not only combats depression and anxiety, but it also produces a general sense of well-being. Plus, a recent study showed that happy people are about 12 percent more productive.

Related: How Successful People Deal With Stress

How to get motivated and start moving

By not working out, you gradually develop a habit of putting things off, which can bleed over into other aspects of your life -- including your business. The longer you avoid working out, the harder it is to start.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to break the avoidance habit and motivate yourself to make fitness a priority.

1. Put it on paper. Write out a fitness routine and diet plan that includes at least three days of cardio (about 30 to 45 minutes per session), three days of weight training and three meals per day.

2. Keep a picture. Cut out a picture of the body type you’d like to have, and keep it on your desk or refrigerator as a concrete reminder of what you’re working toward.

3. Create a mantra. Make up a personal mantra to support your fitness and business, such as, “I can achieve both fitness and business success easily!” Repeat it three times slowly each day until you believe it.

4. Make your word law. A successful entrepreneur always sticks to his word. You’ve made dozens of commitments to clients, and now it’s time to make a commitment to yourself.

If you’re thinking that you simply don’t have the time to work fitness into your schedule, consider Jack Dorsey. The co-founder of Twitter and founder of Square is known for his ability to put in a full day’s work at both companies on a daily basis and make room for a strict diet and exercise routine.

Oracle Corporation co-founder Larry Ellison is 70, but he looks better than most people in their 30s, thanks to his dedication to fitness. And Apple CEO Tim Cook is known for both his fitness fanaticism and his “first one in, last one out” work ethic.

These are busy people, but they still make time for fitness -- and I would argue that it’s a big contributor to their success. Their stories aren’t unique, either. I know plenty of entrepreneurs who started training to relieve stress but gained more energy, inner strength, clarity and happiness.

So stop making excuses, and start making fitness a priority. Your business might depend on it.

Related: Prioritizing Health Can Help You and Your Business