Fitness For Duty: Exercise Can Make You A Better Leader

Apr 23 2014, 5:00pm CDT | by

Okay. Even with a few late snows, spring is officially here. Birds are chirping. Trees and flowers are blossoming, The weather’s warming up. We’re running out of excuses for not beginning some sort of regimen to trim off those extra pounds we gained over the holidays.

Is getting into shape really something we must dread? Is it an exercise (pun intended) in futility?

Shay de Silva says no. She’s a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist who understands the real world effects of endless meetings, jet lag, travel food, and all the rest that produces fatigue and bulge.

In my 40 years of work with leaders in multiple industries, I’ve noticed that most of the best ones tend to maintain good physical fitness. It’s certainly not that they have more time than other people. They just seem to make fitness a priority. Then they reap the benefits.

Here’s what Shay de Silva has to say about the linkages between fitness and effectiveness. (Learn more at Fast Fitness to Go.)

Rodger Dean Duncan: Why should leaders take time out of their already busy schedule to exercise?

Shay de Silva: Adding exercise to an already packed day might seem out of the question. However, setting aside just 20 to 30 minutes a few days each week can produce major payoffs. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, physical activity is the best way to improve cognitive function. Given that the majority of the workday requires problem solving, decision making, and focus, leaders who make exercise a priority definitely have a leg up over those who don’t.

Duncan: What types of exercise can someone do to get the most out of a quick workout?

de Silva: Fortunately, exercise doesn’t need to take hours out of your day. People often tell me they simply don’t have time to work out. When we dig deeper, I learn that it takes them 30 minutes to get to the gym, they feel like they need to work out for at least an hour, and then they need to drive another 30 minutes home. No wonder they don’t have time! I would agree that two hours is too much for most people to commit to on a regular basis. So let’s make it easy.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise and two strength training sessions per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise and two strength training sessions per week. High-intensity interval training is a great way to get your strength sessions and aerobic exercise at the same time. This takes just three or four 25-minute workouts each week. I love this type of workout because it can be adjusted to any level of fitness, doesn’t take much time, and can be done anywhere. Even better, according to a Canadian study, “after four months of high-intensity interval training, heart patients had markedly improved cognitive functions: the ability to think, recall, and make quick decisions.”

Try this:

  1. 30 seconds jumping jacks (beginners march in place)
  2. 30 seconds push-ups (beginners do push-ups on knees or against a wall)
  3. 30 seconds squats (beginners don’t bend knees as much)
  4. 30 seconds bicycle crunches
  5. 30 seconds jogging in place (beginners march in place)
  6. 30 seconds arm raises (reach your arms up so they form a V over your head and then pull your elbows in towards the side of your body)
  7. 30 seconds one-leg deadlifts (stand on one leg and reach towards the floor as your lifted leg extends behind you until you feel a stretch in the back of your standing leg, then stand back up; beginners keep both feet on the floor)
  8. 30 seconds plank (beginners can put one knee on the ground or do this against a wall or chair) Click here for a video demonstration.
  9. 1 minute rest

**Repeat sequence five times.

Duncan: How can exercise give you a competitive advantage?

de Silva: You may think you don’t need exercise for an added edge, but research by the Center for Creative Leadership determined that overweight leaders are often viewed as having less effective interpersonal relationships, poorer leadership capabilities, and lower overall job performance. While these stereotypes may not be valid, having a slimmer physique can improve others’ perceptions of you as a leader.

Duncan: Can working out help you earn more money?

de Silva: The evidence seems to indicate that earning power is indeed associated with physical fitness. A study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Labor and Research showed that people who exercise regularly earn about 9% more than those who don’t.

Duncan: If you really hate working out, how can you get in the habit of doing it regularly?

de Silva: Commit to finding something you enjoy. Try one new activity each week until you find a winner. Here are just a few ideas: walking, lifting weights, dancing, tennis, kayaking, a new class at the gym, hiking, and biking. Print out a calendar and mark the days you exercise. Write down what you did and how you felt afterwards. Having a visual reminder of your accomplishments will make you more likely to keep up with your routine./>/>

Duncan: How can I motivate myself to work out when I have a million other things to do?

de Silva: Start by taking a minute to think about what working out will do for you. Focus on the extra energy you’ll have, the good mood, the lower cholesterol, the increased productivity, and looking great. Tell yourself that you’re just going to start with five minutes of movement. You can dance, do a few push-ups, or go for a walk. Just do something. Once you get started, it’s usually pretty easy to keep going and get in a full workout. If not, at least you did a few minutes, which is always better than nothing.

Rodger Dean Duncan is the bestselling author of CHANGE-friendly LEADERSHIP: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance . Follow him on Twitter @DoctorDuncan

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Ebola virus detected in semen three months after symptoms end
Geneva, Nov 28 (IANS/EFE) The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Friday that the semen of men recovering from Ebola can contain the deadly virus up to three months after the symptoms disappear.
 
 
Hitachi evinces interest in developing Andhra ports
Hyderabad, Nov 28 (IANS) Japanese multinational conglomerate Hitachi has shown interest in developing ports in Andhra Pradesh.
 
 
Ebola test results now in 15 minutes!
London, Nov 28 (IANS) A 15-minute blood and saliva test for Ebola is to be tried in Guinea.
 
 
Japanese scientists develop hybrid silk using spider genes
Tokyo, Nov 28 (IANS/EFE) Japanese scientists have developed through genetic engineering using genes from spiders and silkworms a super resistant silk which could be used for textiles as well as in the surgical field, media reported Friday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Apple Black Friday Sale Released
The Apple Black Friday 2014 Sale has launched online at the Apple Store. Apple has announced a huge charity promotion to fight AIDS for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Apple will donate a portion of the sales the company...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
A look at Black Friday video game deals
All major retailers will be getting in the video game Black Friday spirit. PS4 and XBox One will certainly be two consoles that should garner huge sales but actual games should do good as well. One thing that is for...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Comics looking for event filled Black Friday
While video games and other electronic gadgets look to be the big draw on deals during Black Friday, comic book readers and fans will be able to find their fair share of deals as well. It has been announced that two...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Anna Kendrick positive after nude photo leak
Anna Kendrick is looking at the positives following the recent hacking of her nude photos. The 'Pitch Perfect' star - whose naked pictures were posted online by hackers earlier this year alongside other stars like...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Benedict Cumberbatch hates selfies
Benedict Cumberbatch hates selfies. The 'Imitation Game' actor - who recently announced his engagement to Sophie Hunter - won't be personally taking any photos of him and his bride on their wedding day and instead would...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
James Franco filmed threesome with Zachary Quinto
James Franco and Zachary Quinto filmed a threesome for their new film 'Michael'. The actors took part in the sexy scene alongside the former 'Desperate Housewives' star Charlie Carver for the upcoming drama, according...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
UN condemns attack on British embassy vehicle
United Nations, Nov 28 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has condemned the attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan. "The members of the UNSC expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Not all mosquitoes can transmit malaria
New York, Nov 28 (IANS) A genetic study has revealed that certain species of mosquitoes have evolved to better transmit malaria than even some of their close cousins. The study may advance understanding about the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Rio judge ends Olympic golf course impasse
Rio de Janeiro, Nov 28 (IANS) A Rio de Janeiro judge has rejected a request by public prosecutors to suspend an environmental permit for work on the 2016 Olympic golf course. Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner said there...
Read more on Sport Balla