My brother Rob who is a 50 something entrepreneur living in Ireland, annoyed me the other day when he told me that he is on track to be the same weight and almost as strong as he was when he was in his 20’s. Rob and I have had ongoing competitions since the day when Rob was born which was a year and two days after I was. I would like to say that I was stronger and slimmer then and I will be stronger and slimmer than Rob this summer if he comes back to Canada for a visit but that might be a pipe dream.
Unfortunately for most leaders who are in their 50’s, their physical strength and their weight have gone in opposite directions with strength going down. Look at most people in business in their 50’s and you will have to look beyond the belly fat, myself included. The truth is that our jobs cause much of that belly enlargement. It’s not just the lack of movement that has been exacerbated by zoom meetings or paperwork, it’s the fact that stress causes belly fat! If you don’t believe me read this article- that talks about a Yale University study that came to the same conclusion.
There is no doubt that leaders in business are dealing with stress on a daily basis. If you didn’t have some significant stress in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and a pandemic, you were probably living on another planet. However, there is one great way to reduce your stress besides having a business that works for you. That is through exercise. Numerous studies have shown that regular daily exercise can reduce stress, improve mental health and increase immunity.
So, what kind of benefit might you expect from exercising. While everyone is different, I know from my own experience that a half hour of exercise a day can mean the difference between feeling energized and productive or fatigued and sluggish. Perhaps it’s the extra blood flowing to my brain but I also notice that my thoughts are clearer on days when I exercise than on days when I don’t. My family, staff and partners at Pivotleader can probably all testify that they notice a perceivable drop in my likeability if I haven’t been getting out and doing something. Finally, while it’s not noticeable except when I cut back on my exercising routines I tend to have to loosen my belt buckles when I am not active.
So, if exercise is so great for us, why don’t we all do it regularly? The problem is that exercising takes effort and can be hard, but then so is being grumpy, overweight and sluggish. Walking around with an extra 20lbs is hard, so is looking at ourselves in the mirror. Going for a walk in the middle of the day might seem hard, but then so is sitting at your desk for 8 hours without a walk.
We can all find reasons why we can’t go to the gym, get on our bikes, or even go for a walk. It would be easy for me to let my little brother come over from Ireland and show me how strong and slim he is, knowing that he will go home a couple weeks later. Excuses abound for being lazy, however, getting out of the chair, standing during a zoom meeting, and building regular time for movement during our day will not only benefit those around us, it will make us feel better about ourselves and enable us to take our performance to a much higher level.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an a little bit overweight Award-Winning Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Exercise your fingers, email firstname.lastname@example.org