7 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Must Workout
If you don't take care of yourself, then you won't be able to take care of anything else, including the bottom line.
Expectations placed on successful entrepreneurs are steep. Wearing multiple hats, having a hand in everything, and working endless hours combine to make it easy to overlook one of the key aspects of having an accomplished career: overall health and fitness. Innumerable new and veteran business owners experience high levels of unmanaged stress, fatigue, blood pressure, and other symptoms—engaging overall a lifestyle that puts needless strain on themselves and their families. Not least in contributing to this dangerous dynamic are hectic schedules and often extensive traveling.
It goes without saying that the health and well-being of its key entrepreneur can make or break a company. Whether you are at the top of a flourishing concern, in the early stages, or preparing to launch a business, it’s crucial to take care of your body.
Let’s explore some key reasons why:
1. To be smarter
Michael Hyatt, a leadership expert and founder and chairman of Michael Hyatt & Company, once observed that, “at its most basic, entrepreneurialism is just problem solving for money.” It follows, then, that the better an entrepreneur is at creating solutions, the greater potential there is for income and growth, and researchers have proven that there is a direct connection between exercise and problem-solving capabilities. A 2012 study by the Montreal Heart Institute showed that aerobic exercise increased cognitive function. Put simply, it demonstrated that exercise makes you smarter. And, of course, businesspeople place priority on industry learning and professional development, yet many don’t know that regular exercise will help them process and retain more in pursuit of both.
To amplify the point, Josh Steimle, entrepreneur and TEDx Speaker, was quoted as saying,
“If I were to stop exercising because I felt that being a good business owner was a higher priority, then ironically I would end up a worse business owner than I was when it was a lower priority.”
2. Relieve stress
Problems will always arise in a company, and things will go wrong, but this doesn’t mean an entrepreneur has to be psychologically strained needlessly. To avoid the tremors of stress, it’s important to have an outlet of relief so as not to sap ambition, or, worse yet, slip into depression. Working out is a proven way of doing that. Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, lifting weights, running, swimming, climbing, etc., you need to move your body to stay physically and emotionally flexible, and peaceful.
Working out also lowers cortisol levels (that pesky stress-generated hormone that can inflame and damage organs). Exercise burns cortisol, thereby making us at once healthier and happier, and it also fosters better sleep patterns. Stress may never totally disappear from your life, but regular workouts can significantly reduce its negative impacts.
3. Promote happiness
Think about the last time you had a bad day. Remember how hard it was to get anything done, let alone do your best work? One way to flatten the rollercoaster of emotions associated with most days as a business owner is being active. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins—chemicals that minimize discomfort and promote feelings of satisfaction and well-being. So, the next time you're feeling overwhelmed, get up from your desk and move. Experts from the American Psychological Association report that you’ll begin feeling the mood-boosting effects of a workout within five minutes of starting.
4. Fuel the dream of success, and the time to enjoy it
The ultimate dream is financial freedom and lifestyle independence — the ability to create your own schedule, work when you want, and travel the world. But this typically requires years of hard work. During this phase, many regard spending an hour or two each day on their body, instead of business, as a loss. What they fail to realize is that years of ignoring physical health means their body won’t be able to enjoy the freedom and opportunity they worked so hard for. So, when you spend time exercising, think of it as simultaneously working on your temple (your body) and your dream.
5. Improve memory
As a business professional, you need to wield a plethora of knowledge regarding crucial aspects of the job, which requires a strong memory. One example is networking — the ability to store and apply small, often obscure details from new connections creates more favorable impressions and opportunities. The good news is that in order to improve memory, spending hours in the gym is unnecessary. A study conducted by Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, found that study participants who walked briskly for one hour, twice a week experienced significant improvements in recall.
6. Boost creativity
You have a great idea, but somewhere along the way, your brain just fizzles out — there’s no energy to finish what you started. Creative juices aren’t flowing…you’re stuck. Working long hours on projects can lead to a slump in creativity and quick thinking for just about everyone, but those same exercise-released endorphins can help clear “brain fog,” too. Resulting post-workout clear-headedness will help bring innovative solutions to problems, increase productivity, and make it easier to finish projects. Those moments of being “in the flow” are signs that one’s body is working as it should, is alert, and is being taken care of.
In his article “5 Daily Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs,” Scott Cullather, CEO of inVNT, noted how important exercise is in his day-to-day life:
“It’s amazing to me how many creative ideas have come to me during these long runs in creative solitude,” he writes. “Not only does it give you the physical endurance to work 18 or 20 hours a day and travel around the world, but it helps stimulate your mind and your thinking.”
7. Confidence, anyone?
Ready to feel more self-assured, cool under pressure, decisive, emotionally intelligent, charismatic, and effective at articulating a vision? All you need to do is start working out a few days a week, because exercise also plays a pivotal role in how you perceive yourself. According to a study published in the journal Psychology Sport and Exercise, those who exercised before answering a questionnaire felt significantly thinner and stronger immediately. Better yet, they continued to feel that way long after a workout, which helps to explain why people who exercise regularly have better self-image, regardless of any actual change in appearance. The truly encouraging takeaway here is that feeling confident because of regular exercise isn’t about being the most toned and/or the best looking, it’s about presenting the best version of yourself, physically and mentally.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor