Leadership

Yes, You Do Have Time to Exercise

There are now many simple ways to integrate physical fitness into your schedule—no matter how full it may be. Here's how to stop making excuses and start making time

Written by Deborah Aarts

Every leader knows the benefits of getting more exercise. Studies show that the physically fit are happier, more creative and more productive.

But like most things that are good for us, it’s easy to slag off exercise—especially when you’re caught up in the chaos of running a company. Looking at the considerable demands on your time, it may be hard to fathom how you’d squeeze a workout into your schedule.

It’s not as difficult as you think. You just need to adjust your thinking.

A few years back, PROFIT ran an article in which entrepreneurs shared their suggestions for fitting physical activity into their days. Some of their tips are :

“Make a small initial investment in one good piece of cardio equipment, set your alarm 20 minutes earlier each morning and you are well on your way to getting the critical exercise your body craves to succeed!” wrote one reader.

“Buy a dog,” wrote another. “First of all, you can’t blow them off with an excuse why you can’t take them for a walk. They force you to put discipline and structure around your day…The time that I spend with my dog is a lovely break from the pressure of my business, and being out with him in all kinds of weather has me spending more time outside, which I’ll take over 45 minutes on a treadmill any day.”

According to another reader, the small things really add up: “Try jogging that last kilometre to and from work, it will only cost you 10 minutes per kilometre. Walk a portion if you get out of breath. I never take elevators up. Always jog it up the stairs. In fact, I double-time everywhere I go and change into my work shoes at work.”

Other reader suggestions include hiring a personal trainer to come to your home, joining a team or taking up a martial art. Click here for the full list.

That’s just a taste. There are many other options that will get your heart racing without damaging your to-do list:

  • Hold walking meetings, in which you replace a dreary sit-down at a boardroom table with a sneaker-clad stroll around the neighbourhood. Think this approach is silly? Consider that such prominent leaders and thinkers as Steve Jobs, Aristotle and Sigmund Freud swore by them.
  • Commute by foot. When you walk, run or cycle to or from work, you replace passive car- or transit-time with activity. Depending where you live and where your office is located, you may actually save time travelling by foot or pedal. (That’s certainly the case here at PROFIT HQ in downtown Toronto; in fact, most of our editorial staff cycles or jogs to work. Personally, this saves me at least an hour each week—time that would otherwise be wasted in a crammed subway car or in traffic gridlock.) Worried about turning up to your 8:30 meeting covered in sweat? You can install shower stalls and lockers in your office’s washroom for a relatively modest cost (bonus: your active employees will love you for it), or, if that’s not an option, lather up at a nearby gym or community centre.
  • Make it convenient by surrounding yourself with workout tools. Try replacing your office chair with a stability ball, keeping a set of hand weights in a desk drawer or stashing a yoga mat in the corner. With the tools you need close at hand, you’ll be able to squeeze in activity whenever the opportunity presents itself—think: the five minutes between conference calls.

Want still more options? The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute has compiled research on how to foster more activity in the workplaces. The Mayo Clinic has some other suggestions. And Livestrong.com details many exercises you can do in your own office, including quick abdominal and resistance-band workouts.

As long as you’re physically able, if you have the will to work out, there’s a way.

The takeaway from all this? As long as you’re physically able, if you have the will to work out, there’s a way. As one reader put it in the aforementioned PROFIT article, it’s a matter of prioritization: “You have got to put exercise above your €˜urgent priorities’ and look at it as a vehicle that will help you reach your goals.”

Think of it this way: you owe it to your staff, your clients, your family and yourself to be at the top of your game. And that includes your health. If you stop treating exercise as a peripheral obligation and start treating it as part of your job description, you’ll only come out stronger—in more ways than one.

We want to hear from you! What do you do to keep fit while running a company? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Deborah Aarts is an award-winning senior editor at PROFIT Magazine. Her coverage of opportunities and challenges for Canada’s entrepreneurial innovators covers HR, leadership, sales and international trade, among other topics.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com