By Rob Smith

Traditionally, many entrepreneurs have adopted the “get rich or die trying” attitude to work, putting their financial success above everything else, often at the expense of their health. Long hours, or sleeping under your desk, was traditionally seen as a rite of passage or flaunted as a badge of honor, whether you made any money or not.

Thankfully, more recently there has been a trend in the other direction, with people starting to recognize that a more balanced approach to work can be better for your health and your business.

Surprising Benefits of Exercise

Beyond the obvious physical benefits of exercise, there are also several benefits related to mental health, all of which will in turn have a positive impact on your business.

  • Reduced stressThe Anxiety and Depression Association of America cites exercise as one of the stress coping mechanisms most recommended by healthcare professionals. ”Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers.”
  • Improved self-confidence – Striking out on your own exposes you to serious bouts of self-doubt, and if you’re not 100% confident in what you’re doing, how can you expect your customers to have faith in you. Physical activity is often cited as one of the key things you can do to boost self-confidence.
  • Increased productivity – Research has shown that regular exercise boosts your mental brain power, makes you less likely to take time off work and also increases your creativity. All of this contributes to significant boosts in productivity.

Simple Ways to Stay Active at Work

The American Heart Association suggests that you should do “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.” Even if you recognize the importance of exercise, it can be hard to find 30 minutes in your schedule, five days a week required to meet this target.

Thankfully, another key piece of information from that same article gives a clue as to how you can make this a bit easier: “Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories.”

So the solution is to simply think more about your daily routine and create situations in which you can be more active. For example:

  • Block it out in your diary – The simple act of putting a calendar appointment in your diary makes you and others far less likely to encroach on the time you have scheduled for exercise. You are also more likely to commit to exercising if it is prescheduled.
  • Take regular breaks and go for a walk – Exercise doesn’t have to mean 45 minutes pumping iron in the gym. Throughout the day simply make the effort to walk around more. Park your car slightly further away from the entrance, use the bathroom on the other side of the building, or spend 20 minutes walking around the block on your lunch break. To make this time doubly productive you could schedule calls for during your walk.
  • Hold standing meetings / Invest in a standing desk – Many of the health problems that people face today are related to our overly sedentary existence. Making the effort to stand up more sounds simple but can have a big impact. A secondary benefit of having standing meetings is that it tends to prevent people from making idle chit chat and therefore stops meetings from running for any longer than they need to be.
  • Active seating – If a standing desk isn’t for you, there are several options available to help you keep moving even while you’re sat down. These include sitting on a Swiss ball rather than a chair, or getting a mini stepper machine for under your desk.
  • Make it part of your culture – If you’re in charge, you have the opportunity to create a corporate culture that embraces exercise as an important part of work life. Encourage employees to get a good night’s sleep, or organize team events. Not only does this yield all the exercise benefits, but it is an excellent bonding opportunity for the team.

Recognizing the importance of regular exercise and taking steps to make it a bigger part of your daily routine could have a truly transformative impact on your business.

As you exercise more you’ll feel better and notice the improvements in your productivity, but most importantly your employees and clients will also notice the change, leading to equivalent improvements in your bottom line.