Why You Need More Exercise as an Entrepreneur (and 7 Creative Strategies for Getting It)
You need 30 minutes a day, minimum. So, why are you even reading this? Go out and power-walk!
Being an entrepreneur demands significant time and effort. While there's no "standard" for entrepreneurial schedules, many business owners end up working 60 hours a week or more. Obviously, that leaves little room for ongoing self-care like physical exercise.
However, it's vital for entrepreneurs' physical and mental health to maintain an ongoing exercise regimen -- despite the practical limitations in doing so. Here are some reasons why:
Physical exercise is good for you -- which isn't exactly a secret.
- Productivity. Exercise is going to make you more productive -- for both a short-term boost (thanks to endorphins and adrenaline) and long-term physiological improvement (thanks to a chemical change in your brain).
- Physical health. Exercise helps stave off a slew of health problems, from diabetes to heart disease, and reduces the number of sick days you take every year. With employee health problems costing businesses more than $225 billion per year in lost productivity, this is something you can't ignore, either for yourself or your employees.
- Mental health. Exercise also helps lessen or prevent mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and lets you sleep better, improving your productivity even further.
- Social opportunities. Those who exercise tend to encounter one another frequently, on the street, at the gym or during bike club/running club activities. That makes exercise a networking opportunity in and of itself.
The message? Without exercise, both your performance and your business are going to suffer -- in multiple ways.
Strategies for regular exercise
If, reading this, you're feeling guilty that that you're not exercising enough, there are some creative strategies you can employ. The amount you need? Recommendations generally clock in at somewhere around 30 minutes a day. How can you fit this into your already-packed schedule? Here are those strategies:
- Bike to work. You have to get to work somehow, right? And, chances are, you'll probably spend 30 minutes or more doing that. So, if the distance isn't excessive, why not hop on a bike and kill two birds with one stone? You'll get to see the city and your fellow denizens. You'll fit your exercise in, and you won't spend so much time in your carbon-emitting car. Nor will you have to spend a fortune on a bike, either, or spend hours finding the right mode: You can find a bike to buy online for a reasonable price, with minimal research, thanks to novice-friendly sites like SixThreeZero. Or you can participate in one of those bike-sharing programs more and more cities are adopting.
- Walk to meetings. If you're going to a meeting in the city, don't drive or take public transportation; walk there. The exercise and time outdoors will give you the chance to decompress and gather your thoughts, and the short-term rush you get from the exercise will give you a boost of energy.
- Walk while meeting. Instead of walking to meetings, why not have your meetings while walking? This strategy is especially valuable and controllable when you're meeting with your own team members. If you have something to discuss, grab your colleague(s) and walk around the block. Make a recording if you're worried about not being able to take notes.
- Use a treadmill desk. Treadmill desks have gotten mixed reviews, but if you're eager to get your exercise in without leaving the desk, they're an option. You won't be able to get a heart-thumping workout in, but you can burn some extra calories and reduce the chronic damage long-term sitting does to your body.
- Employ short exercise breaks between tasks. You aren't working the entire stretch of the workday; you take little breaks here and there to grab snacks, use the restroom or browse social media. So, why not use those breaks to fit in a few extra minutes of exercise at a time, such as doing jumping jacks in the hallway, or yoga and light stretches by your desk?
- Delay your commute. Instead of wrestling with rush-hour traffic, delay your commute. Work out in the mornings, grabbing your 30 minutes of exercise, and catch up on any urgent communication you need to deal with on your phone or home computer. Then, drive to work once the traffic has died down. Depending on how bad the traffic is in your city, you could easily save up to 30 minutes of dead time, negating the time taken up by your traditional routine.
- Find a nearby gym. To squeeze in a workout before or after work, or even during a lunch break, look for a gym close to your business. When your gym is nearby, you'll be far more likely to form a workout habit, rather than exercising only when it's convenient. You may even be able to negotiate a group discount if you get a number of your team to join. That will encourage everyone to get more exercise.
The impact of exercise on your entrepreneurial responsibilities is too significant to ignore. Once you make your exercise routine a habit, you'll start noticing how much better you feel on a daily basis, and you won't want to stop. All it takes is the drive and commitment to get a program started.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development.