We take our health and that of those around us so much for granted until something happens to threaten it, and then everything else immediately becomes secondary. So it seems absolutely obvious to me that to perform well in business, you need to keep yourself in good condition. And not just good condition in fact, but the best condition you possibly can.
"Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning," John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School said in an interview with U.S. News & World Report. "Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain."
Many people I meet in business tell me that they simply “don’t have the time” to exercise. My argument is that you can’t afford not to find the time. Cory Booker, the New York mayoral and senatorial candidate, made a good observation. “When I fail to work out, my ability to be effective professionally and personally suffers. So I work out. Because we’re called to great service, not great suffering.” He’s right. You serve yourself, your clients, your business and your employees better when you’re in a good state physically. You’re not working to grind your health into the ground. That’s a totally false economy and will not serve your business well.
Richard Branson believes he gets four more hours of productivity every day from the time he spends exercising. And Barack Obama credits starting to run three miles a day being the single biggest thing he did to transform him from an underachiever to moving onto the pathway to President. So you can justifiably view your time spent exercising as not only an investment in the rest of your day but even in the rest of your career.
There are some really simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to make it easier to exercise within a busy schedule. The first one is, quoting a well-worn slogan, to just do it. Even if you only get a short routine in, it’s better than nothing. Make yourself do it, every day, and you will always feel better than if you hadn’t made the effort.
The second one is to treat exercise as non-negotiable, just like you would any other important business appointment. Schedule it in your diary and stick to that commitment of time. Whether you get a trainer to make sure you don’t miss a session or you forgo a business lunch to get some time in the pool or the gym, treat your exercise appointments with the same respect as you would any other important meeting.
Always stay in places with a gym if you possibly can or pack your gym gear to hit the local park. Business travel can have a massive impact on health over time. We recently visited our business in Australia and one of the first things I did when I got off the flight was to go to the gym. It felt like the last thing I wanted to do, but it certainly helped a bit in beating the jetlag.
And my final tip is a simple one but it's the single most powerful thing you can do to fit exercise into your day - get up earlier. I get up at 5am every day and that gives me at least an hour in the morning to exercise and get my house in order before the working day begins. Making this change absolutely transformed my productivity and my fitness levels and I’d recommend it to anyone.