Healthy body, healthy mind… healthy career?
What do Barack Obama, Tim Cook and Dame Anna Wintour DBE have in common? Not only are they extremely successful individuals and pivotal leaders in their respective fields, they all understand the importance of regular exercise, prioritising it despite their hectic schedules.
We all know the tremendous benefits of exercise and physical activity on our physical and mental wellbeing. Physical activity has been termed the ‘miracle drug’, improving general health and increasing overall life expectancy. But what can exercise and physical activity do to boost our careers?
Feel good, do well. The ‘just worked out’ buzz, when our brain has a high level of endorphins, has been known to reduce depression and stress, going hand-in-hand with a positive and energising outlook on life – and work. Recent research examining the relationship between physical activity and happiness, measured via an app, found that individuals who are more active are also happier. In a work situation, this mindset can have a positive impact on interaction with colleagues and clients.
Discipline, motivation and endurance. Many different aspects of work and life require these three qualities, whether you are leading a team, managing your workload or working towards achieving certain goals. Exercise will help you to develop and enhance these qualities. It takes discipline to exercise after a long day at work, or to set the alarm extra early in the morning. Motivation is needed to aim for the next fitness goal, and endurance is required to reach it.
Reflection. Creating space and time to reflect can help the mind to re-focus, problem-solve and innovate. Exercise is a fantastic opportunity for reflection. If you are feeling stressed, take time to exercise; problems may appear clearer afterwards. Use a swim, run, cycle or walk to reflect on your day. Think about what you achieved, what you could have done differently and what you plan to do next time.
Networking. Have you ever noticed that people who enjoy exercising love to talk about it? Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. Use the event you are training for, or the new fitness class at the gym, as an opportunity to connect with colleagues, managers and clients. Joining a gym or fitness group is also a chance to network and meet new people, some of whom could become friends, colleagues or future clients.
With all of this in mind, next time you think about cancelling that gym session because you have too much work to do, or are feeling guilty about giving yourself the time ahead of your work commitments, think again. Prioritise your health and wellbeing and you may just find the rest will fall into place.
Dr Katy Garnham-Lee specialises in appointing senior leadership positions in the IT and Digital Leadership sector.