What Does Exercise Have to do with Leadership?
Exercise. Some of us dread it, others can’t wait to get to it. It’s true that exercise can become additive and almost an obsession at times to some people (I myself have been bitten by the exercise workout bug). When I’m forced to go more than a couple of days without working out, I find myself having more trouble getting through the day unscathed by life’s all too familiar stresses and challenges.
The other day, I was in the gym working on my cardio and I remember feeling my mind begin to relax and get into what I was doing. It was at that time that I would also begin to remember things that I had thought about earlier. Things that I thought were great ideas at the time I was thinking about them but for one reason or another had forgotten to write down and so forgot the idea. Has that ever happened to you? Forgetting something you thought earlier was a good idea only to have it escape your mind? Come on, be honest! It’s only you and me here at the moment. 😎
The word “exercise” comes from a Latin root that means “to keep, to maintain, to hold off.” For me exercise has to be one of the most beneficial things in life that we are able to partake in. I’m not just saying that because of the obvious health benefits that one can get from exercising on a regular basis, but more so from the mental clarity that it gives a person. When a person exercises on a regular consistent basis, toxins from the body are naturally extracted at a higher rate. Muscles that would begin to atrophy over time from lack of use, will in fact remain strong. If one of your goals is to lose weight or maintain the weight you’re at, keeping muscles strong and conditioned make it much easier to do so. When a person’s muscles are strong, weight is at an ideal number and toxins are diminished, a person cannot help but feel better. Both physically and emotionally. Why? Because the way a person physically feels affects their emotional state. This better feeling of themselves usually translates into having a better and more positive attitude in life that can easily be seen by subordinates, colleagues, friends and family.
Leaders who appear physically fit are viewed as better leaders. According to an article on weeklyleader.net:
“Fitness does so much more than just keep the extra weight off and prevent us from blaming the cleaners for shrinking our clothes. It increases mental stamina and endurance as well. It helps one weather stressful events with aplomb, and to keep ones head when all around them are losing theirs. The leader of the group, the one expected to make a good decision under stress and chart an effective course, should take advantage of the extra mental acuity and sharpness that comes with being physically fit.”
I have to say that recently I became a little fascinated with how exercise was helping me to become a better leader and so I decided to see if anyone out there had made any kind of study on the connection. One study that I found, from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), found that individuals who exercise are significantly more effective leaders than those who don’t. According to the study, executives who exercise rate significantly higher on skills such as leading others (interpersonal savvy, inspiring commitment, and creating synergy), leading by personal example and results orientation than non-exercisers.
Probably one of the simplest and easiest exercises to do is to take a walk. According to the Franklin Institute, walking is very beneficial to the brain because it “increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain.” As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why walking can “clear your head” and help you to think better.
So the next time someone tells you that leadership and exercise do not have anything to do with each other, you can rest assured that you know better and are (hopefully) the wiser.
What’s your favorite exercise?