Leaders Who Work Out Work Better

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Believe it whether you want to or not, exercise can improve your performance as a leader. Jeffery Perry explains how in this article.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” There is arguably no greater dynamic and creative intellectual activity than personal leadership. Leaders have significant daily demands as they manage teams and engage with internal and external stakeholders. As such, leaders benefit from positive habits that can boost overall effectiveness. Incorporating physical fitness does just that—it can enhance personal leadership, especially in organizational environments fraught with disruption, uncertainty, and change.

While the link between enhanced personal leadership and physical fitness may seem logical, look no further than the general population to see that physical fitness is not universally embraced. According to Harvard Medical School research, over 50% of American adults don’t meet basic activity guidelines of at least 30 minutes most days a week, and over 25% devote no time to active pursuits. While the profile of leaders may not be as dismal, many leaders focus so much time on achieving that they neglect their physical fitness. Extensive travel, team dinners, client entertainment, long work hours, and tight deadlines are often cited as justification for physical fitness placed on the back burner.

Research from the Mayo Clinic and other sources highlight that regular exercise stimulates the body to release proteins, chemicals, and endorphins—the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. This stimulation enhances key leadership qualities such as energy, confidence, mental sharpness, and stress management. A physical fitness regimen also requires discipline—commitment to develop a plan, follow-through even during challenging times, and accountability. Building discipline muscle (no pun intended) is a metaphor for the demands of personal leadership.

Key points include:

  • Building discipline muscle

  • Tracking progress

  • The process of physical fitness

 

Read the full article, Physical Fitness Can Enhance Personal Leadership, on LeadMandates.com.