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7 Reasons the CEO Should Get Outside to Exercise There may not be a better example of the law of diminishing returns than limitless sedentary work without exercise.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The majority of CEO's spend their time inside, behind a desk, on a plane, in a car, on the phone or otherwise inside. It is easy for them to become overwhelmed with stress and fatigue turning to quick fixes such as caffeine, nicotine and now psych meds to give them the decrease in stress and boosts in energy they are looking for. They can develop a certain laziness with these quick fix solutions, believing they do not have the time to add exercise into their daily routine for fear of not accomplishing what needs to get done during their day. However, all people, especially CEO's, would perform their jobs much better in taking some time to get outside and nurture their health. To follow are seven benefits to exercising outside.

1. Fresh air.

Offices are full of stale, regurgitated air so why leave the office and go to a gym that has the same feeling? Get outside and allow yourself to deeply and soulfully breathe in large doses of fresh air. It is amazing what fresh air does for the mind, body and spirit. Fresh air cleanses the lungs and brings more oxygen into the cells which increases the energy you need to do what you need to do. It also brings clarity to the brain by improving blood pressure, flow and heart rate. Feeling a deep sense of clarity produces a significant shift in mood from negative to positive.

Exercising outside leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed, which is essential in strengthening your immune system by decreasing your stress. When you stress your breath becomes shallow, bringing less oxygen into your cells. With increased oxygen to the cells your body works more efficiently to destroy bacteria, viruses and germs, keeping you healthy and missing less days of work. When you truly take care of your body the impact this will have on your overall productivity will increase dramatically.

2. Sun exposure.

The sun is your friend. Exposure to the sun increases the levels of Vitamin D in your body which helps to optimize your hormones. Serotonin is your happy hormone. Being stuck indoors in artificial lighting can cause sluggishness and depression. In addition to natural light exposure, the intensity of the light you're exposed to is also important. Bright light entering through the retina of your eyes is also known to stimulate serotonin production. A great way to get a dose of natural sunlight is to exercise outside. You kill two birds with one stone; you decrease negative mood states, while also getting into peak performance physical and mental condition.

Related: 6 Reasons CrossFit Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

3. Outdoor beauty.

Human evolution occurred, for most part, outside. We lived our lives outside, therefore, there is much evidence to support that esthetically pleasing environments raise serotonin levels which helps you feel good physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As serotonin increases it has an incredibly powerful influence over your mood, emotions, memory, and even the craving of carbohydrates.

Further, increases in serotonin provide you with feelings of positive self-esteem, it increases your pain tolerance, decreases your appetite, helps your sleep cycle, digestion and body temperature regulation. All of this from being outside in fresh air. It is an immediate stress relieving, feel-good cure. Being outside reminds you there is more to life than work, which is refreshing in itself. It helps you to find the gratitude for the small and more natural parts of life.

4. Triggers the primal regions of the brain and psyche.

Physiologically, outdoor exercise has been shown to inspire a greater commitment to an exercise program. Through this, you trigger the more primal regions of your brain and psyche. Exercising outdoors increases mental and emotional well-being by way of increased energy, regeneration, positivity, gratification, satisfaction, pleasure, self-esteem, liveliness, passion, and a sense of accomplishment, while ridding your psyche of feelings of pressure, unhappiness, stress, confusion, anger and exhaustion.

With a greater variety of options: walking, swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, running, isometrics, hiking, skiing, and far more, you are more likely to stay focused longer, less likely to get bored, and more likely to repeat and return for your workout. Going to a gym can feel like going to another office for another meeting, while exercising outside feels like complete freedom from the confinement of an enclosed space.

Related: Why Exercising Is a Higher Priority Than My Business

5. Sensory stimulation.

Being outdoors creates increased sensory stimulation, connecting all five of your senses. Outdoor exercise can be more strenuous, different and unique, challenging both your mind and body far more than an indoor workout. Factors such as weather shifts, changes in landscape, even running downhill, can challenge different muscle groups, even ones not often used. The more strenuous the exercise, the more energy is expended, the more fat and calories are burned.

It also serves to exercise your mind. When exercising outside your mind becomes aware of the changing terrain. Whether you use the hills, the sand on a beach, a wave, or a winding path, your mind has to focus differently than it would on a flat gym floor. It makes you think about the now, what is right in front you. This is a great way to achieve a true break from the mentality of work. It puts you in the moment allowing you to maximize your workout as a true and complete escape from your day.

6. Positive mood.

Outdoor fitness has many physical benefits but aside from those, the mental benefits are equally as impressive. Being outside and raising your heart rate is revitalizing. It clears your mind of wasteful thoughts and emotions. It allows you to put stress to the side as you focus on being in the zone. It is also a great opportunity to socialize with others and create lasting relationships and pride in your surroundings or to special landmarks in your area. There is no expensive gym membership, and no age limit, which allows you to exercise as a family, or with friends; everyone is welcome with outdoor workouts, and exercising with others is a great way to stay accountable and succeed. This helps you maintain the important relationships in your life that may otherwise fall to the wayside due to your work schedule or stress levels. Work is important but you need to have a life.

Related: YouTube Fitness Star Cassey Ho's 3 Quick Health Tips For Busy Entrepreneurs

7. Spiritual connection.

Many would argue that connecting with your soul and nature is surely one of the greatest benefits to experiencing exercise in the great outdoors. Walking, running, swimming or hiking amid this Universe's magnificent creations can certainly make you connect more closely with your soul in the most beautiful of ways. Whether it is a meditative state of being one with nature, time alone to think through your deepest thoughts, or time in silent prayer, exercising outside is an optimal way to connect with your spiritual side and get to know yourself, your faith, and your surroundings far better than ever before. It is a great way to metaphorically and figuratively find the deeper answers and solutions to your stressors and problems.

If CEO's can get in touch with having a life outside of work and a life outdoors they will have a more complete experience of living, loving and working. The time it will take to get outside and workout can only improve their work performance. The time it takes to take care of themselves will be well worth it. When life is lived more fully, CEO's will achieve levels of Peak Performance that can only make them more successful.

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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