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Why Exercise Can Give Today’s Business Professional a Competitive Edge

Do you remember reading fitness and/or bodybuilding magazines as a teenager and in your 20s? Yes, now everything is online so it’s Instagram, Twitter, and whatever other platforms you follow. At that point, you thought you were training to be a professional bodybuilder, fitness model, or swimsuit model. Something changed along the way, and now you’re sitting behind a desk or in a car most hours of the day and have nagging aches and pains.

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The images of being tanned and toned, living it up on a tropical island surrounded by beautiful people as you work out for hours a day, went up in smoke a decade or so ago. The need to exercise for your physical and mental health have not. Let’s talk about where you are now and why it truly is important for your career to live a healthy lifestyle.

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  • Studies have shown benefits in memory functions whether the participants were engaged in walking, gymnastics, or more intense programs. (Ruscheweyh et al. 2011, Physical Activity and Memory Functions, Neurobiol. Aging 32, 1304-1319).

Using your brain for projects, sales calls, and management issues requires memory functions. Getting some type of cardiovascular exercise is vital to how you remember what’s going on in your job. If you’re having problems keeping up with daily activities, science says getting around the block can help you with staying on track. You don’t have to jog if you don’t like jogging. Choose an activity you enjoy and know will stick with, just make sure your heart rate is elevated to a level of heavy breathing (moderate-to-vigorous physical activity).

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  • Resistance training has improved executive functions as well as short-term memory and attention. (Liu-Ambrose, et al, 2010, Resistance Training and Executive Function…, Arch. Intern. Med. 25, 170-178; Cassilhas et al, 2007, The Impact of Resistance Training…, Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 38, 1515 – 1519)

Pumping iron is great for keeping your muscles and brain toned up. Doing complex exercises like a squat and bench press utilizes multiple muscle groups and multiple neuropathways. These movements contribute to improved executive function and memory mentioned in the study. It is not about doing maximal lifts; it is about doing the lifts on a regular basis with weight you can perform 8-12 reps with. Yes, go heavier for the eight reps, and also change it up to go a little lighter for 12 reps. Science applies to men AND women, so ladies, please do these exercises also.

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From a monetary standpoint, the American Heart Association says adults with hypertension pay $2500 more annually for healthcare than adults without it. Your physical health affects your wallet, which affects your emotional health. Does being short every month on your bills stress you out? Exercise can be the answer to a leaner waistline and fatter wallet. In this period of high inflation, any extra cash is beneficial for all income levels.

  • Thus physical exercise may affect cognitive functions during phases in life during which mental changes occur, regardless of age. (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003, Fitness effects on Cognitive Function…, Psychol. Sci. 14, 125-130)

Your career depends upon how you process information and give appropriate feedback to that information in reports, sales calls, projections, and employee relations. Regular exercise keeps your cognitive function at a higher level compared to a person who is sedentary. Any competitive advantage you can get is a plus in this WFH, RTO, and hybrid working world. Taking the time for cardiovascular and resistance training puts you ahead of coworkers looking for promotions, competitors making sales presentations, and being assigned projects with greater responsibility.

Physical exercise truly is the secret sauce to your career. Read my book, The Athlete in the Game of Life, to learn more about how exercise can fight aging, chronic pain, and improve self-esteem. You only have one body and brain, give it the best care you can, and you will be rewarded now and down the road! It starts with just 10 minutes each day for stretching and strengthening, and from there, you can launch your professional development to levels you never thought possible!

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