Why Physical Activity is Important for Business Leaders Performance

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Written By Kevin

The insights I gained over the years help me lead and motivate teams to achieve business and operational goals. Allow me to share my learnings with you.

One often overlooked aspect of leadership development is the integration of physical activity into your daily routine.

Regular physical activity can have a positive impact on various aspects of your cognitive abilities, such as improved concentration, sharper memory, and faster learning abilities.

By dedicating time for physical fitness, you also demonstrate commitment to self-improvement, which reflects positively on your leadership qualities.

At the end of the day, integrating physical activity as part of your leadership development will lead to increased performance and productivity for both you and your team.

The Importance of Physical Activity

Various studies show that maintaining a regular physical activity routine is not just important for your health, but it can also have a significant impact on your performance at work.

Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s easy to become sedentary, spending long hours sitting at your desk or in meetings. However, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can help you combat the many negative effects of this sedentary lifestyle.

The World Health Organization recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week for adults aged 18 to 64 years.

Health Benefits

When you participate in regular physical activity, you’re actively improving your overall health. Exercise has been linked to lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, and a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These health benefits can transform you into a more energetic and focused leader, capable of making better decisions and inspiring others to perform at their best.

Increased Productivity

Physical activity is also important in the workplace, where it can contribute to increased productivity. Employers who promote physical activity among their employees often see a decrease in healthcare costs and sick leave.

Workers who engage in regular exercise tend to be more productive and better equipped to handle stress and manage their daily tasks effectively.

What Level of Physical Activity to Do?

To effectively incorporate physical activity into your work routine, it’s crucial to follow physical activity guidelines that recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.

You can break this down into shorter sessions throughout your work week, making it more manageable and less intimidating.

Some strategies for increasing your physical activity at work include:

  • Taking regular breaks to stand up and stretch
  • Going for a walk or climbing stairs during lunch breaks
  • Holding standing or walking meetings
  • Investing in an adjustable standing desk

By making physical activity a priority, you’re investing in yourself, and at the same time promoting a healthier workplace culture.

Benefits of Exercise for Business Leaders

For starters, engaging in physical activity boosts your productivity. When you commit to a fitness regimen, you’ll likely notice increased energy levels, making it easier to tackle your daily tasks and achieve success.

Physical activity also sparks your creativity, according to the New York times. As you exercise, your mind begins to generate new ideas and innovative solutions.

This newfound creative thinking can be applied directly to your leadership role, helping you stay ahead of your competitors.

Another benefit of exercise is the positive effect it has on learning. As a business leader, you should always be seeking to expand your knowledge and improve your skills.

According to a paper published by the National Institute of Health, exercise has been proven to enhance cognitive function, which means you’ll be better equipped to process new information and make informed decisions for your organization.

Additionally, exercise provides an opportunity for rest and recovery. In a demanding leadership position, it’s crucial to find balance and give yourself time to recharge.

Physical activity offers a healthy way to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep. These benefits contribute to a stronger emotional and mental state, allowing you to perform at your best.

Lastly, exercise is essential for maintaining your overall health. A strong and healthy body supports a strong and healthy mind.

In fact, exercise boosts your immune system and can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

So there is no doubt that incorporating exercise into your routine can yield significant benefits for your performance.

Business Leaders doing Yoga at work with their employees

Leadership Skills Enhancements Through Physical Activities

Engaging in exercise consistently helps improve various aspects of your professional life, including communication, teamwork, collaboration, active listening, and problem-solving.

Improves Communication Skills

First, let’s talk about how physical activity can positively influence your communication skills. By participating in team sports or group exercises, you can develop an ability to convey messages clearly, and learn to understand verbal and non-verbal cues from your teammates better.

This same practice translates well into the workplace, making you a more effective communicator with your colleagues.

Better Teamwork

Regular exercise through team sports can foster a sense of kinship among team members by allowing them to work together towards a common goal.

This camaraderie can carry over into workplace relationships, promoting a more harmonious and successful team dynamic.

Emphasizing teamwork and collaboration in your physical activities leads to better performance as a leader when coordinating group projects or guiding your team at work.

Attentive Listening

Active listening is another critical leadership skill that can be honed through physical activity.

Participating in team sports or group fitness classes gives you the opportunity to practice active listening as you take instructions, provide feedback, and improve together as a group.

As a leader, employing active listening skills shows your team that you genuinely care about their opinions and challenges, leading to increased trust and loyalty.

Solving Problems

Lastly, physical activity helps improve your problem-solving skills. Many sports require strategic thinking, planning, and decision-making under pressure, which can directly transfer to your professional environment.

Through consistent practice, you learn to adapt quickly and make decisions that benefit your team, both on the field and in the workplace.

So, as you can see routine physical activity not only benefits your health, but it can also elevate your performance as a leader by enhancing critical skills necessary for success.

Developing an Active Routine for Leaders

It’s essential to maintain a consistent routine that incorporates physical activity.

This should not be left just for the weekend. Instead, consider introducing brief and consistent exercise sessions throughout the week also. Short and frequent exercise sessions have been proven to be more effective than lengthy workouts on weekends alone.

Let’s explore a few physical activity options that can easily fit into your busy lifestyle.

Gym workouts

Gym workouts are an excellent way for you to build strength, improve endurance, and increase flexibility.

Incorporating a combination of cardio and strength training exercises into your gym routine will keep your body in peak condition, and maintain muscle mass as you start getting older.

Aim to visit the gym at least three times a week, even if it’s just for a brief 30-minute workout.

Yoga

Yoga is another fantastic option for leaders looking to develop an active routine, especially since it can easily be done from the comfort of your own home or even from your office.

Practicing yoga regularly can improve your flexibility, balance, and focus, which are all crucial attributes for effective leadership.

Start by dedicating just a few minutes each day to yoga, gradually increasing the duration of your practice as you become more comfortable with the exercises.

There are numerous online resources and classes available, making it easy to find a style that resonates with you.

Walking

Walking meetings have become increasingly popular among business leaders. Instead of sitting in a conference room, consider taking your meetings outdoors and walking while discussing important topics.

This encourages both you and your team members to be more active, providing the added benefit of increased blood flow to the brain, leading to improved decision-making and creative problem-solving.

Aim to incorporate walking meetings into your work schedule whenever possible.

Short Movement Breaks

Additionally, try incorporating short movement breaks throughout your day. Sitting for extended periods can negatively impact your health and productivity.

Simple activities like standing up to stretch, taking a short walk, or performing quick exercises will help keep your body engaged and your mind sharp.

You don’t have to think big to start exercising regularly. Keep it simple at first and gradually build an active routine that includes a mixture of different types of exercises that fit nicely into your work day.

The most important thing is to stay consistent in your routine. It’s easy to deviate from a physical routine once you skip a few days. So try and stay at it, even when you’re on business trips or on holiday.

For example every time I go on a business trip I try and find a hotel that has a gym or fitness canter. Then I make it a point to get up 30 minutes earlier and start my day with a quick workout. If no gyms are available you can practice yoga in your room, or go for a brisk walk, first thing in the morning.

Office workers doing physical activities at work with their manager

Combating Sedentary Workplace Culture

As a business leader, you should understand the importance of workplace wellness and its impact on employee productivity and overall company success.

Research shows that a sedentary workplace culture can lead to a variety of health issues. To help address this issue, consider incorporating the following employer-sponsored initiatives and health policies in your workplace strategy.

Promote Movement Throughout the Day

Encourage employees to take short breaks throughout the workday to engage in physical activity. This can be as simple as walking around the office or stretching at their desks.

By making small adjustments, you can create a culture that values movement and prevents the negative consequences of prolonged sedentary behavior.

Develop Comprehensive Programs

Introduce comprehensive health and wellness programs that include a focus on physical activity.

These programs should offer a variety of options to suit different preferences, such as organized group exercise classes, access to on-site gym facilities, or discounted memberships at local fitness centers.

Provide Flexible Work Arrangements

Allowing employees to have some control over their work hours can enable them to better prioritize physical activity.

Workplace policies that support flexibility can help reduce time spent sitting while also improving job satisfaction and employee engagement.

Create a Supportive Work Environment

Design your office layout to foster an active work culture.

This can be done by incorporating height-adjustable standing desks, walking workstations, or casual meeting spaces in the office, where employees can stand or pace while discussing work matters.

Educational Initiatives

Educate employees about the health benefits of regular physical activity and the dangers of sedentary behavior.

Providing resources and information about healthy habits can encourage employees to take action and prioritize their well-being.

Ice-Breaker Activities

For a fun and healthy way to bond as a team, try incorporating icebreaker activities into your workplace.

These activities can help break down barriers and create a more open and inclusive environment. By participating in games, group exercises, or team challenges, your team members will learn more about each other while having a good time and contributing to their weekly physical activities.

Keep in mind that some team members may have their own barriers, such as physical limitations or personal insecurities. Ensure that any activities you plan are inclusive and accessible for everyone, taking into account these potential barriers.

You should therefore offer a variety of options that will allow your team to engage in activities tailored to their comfort levels and abilities.

By adopting some of these suggestions, you are taking an important step toward creating a healthier workplace setting.

Remember to monitor the impact of these interventions, so you can make adjustments as needed and continue to foster a work environment that values movement and health.

When evaluating the effects of physical activity on your business performance, consider tracking the following:

  1. Employee engagement and satisfaction: Measure employee engagement through regular surveys or anonymous feedback channels. An increase in engagement levels could indicate the positive impact of the physical activity program on your workforce.
  2. Productivity levels: Monitor overall productivity, considering factors such as project completion rates, sales figures, and response times. If these metrics improve following the introduction of a physical activity program, it may be an indication of the program’s efficacy.
  3. Healthcare costs: Calculate the company’s healthcare costs before and after implementing the program. A decrease in healthcare expenses might suggest improved employee health due to increased physical activity.

By prioritizing physical activity in your workplace, you demonstrate your commitment to employee well-being and create a healthier environment where employees can thrive. In turn, this will lead to strengthened business performance and an organization that’s well-positioned for success.

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