Perhaps you want to stick to a fitness routine to manage your weight, strengthen and increase muscle mass, and prevent illness. But with a busy work schedule, exercising tends to take the backseat. This is especially true if you value your career more than shedding a few pounds.
Such a mindset, however, could be detrimental in the long run. Instead of focusing solely on your career, you should also prioritize physical fitness, so that you'll look better and live longer. Accomplishing all of these goals seems like a tall order, but it’s doable. You can even consider them as interrelated goals. The fact is, exercising doesn’t just trim your waistline — it could positively impact your career, too.
Does good health relate to career success?
Whether you’re still climbing the corporate ladder or have already achieved professional success, there’s a possibility that you’ll neglect your physical fitness routine. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good time to reconsider your priorities.
Related reading: 7 Effective Ways to Stay Motivated to Work Out, Backed By Science
Former US President Barack Obama, a very busy man, takes time off his very packed schedule to do a 45-minute exercise daily. Apple CEO Tim Cook manages to devote around 50 minutes of exercise despite having to run a multi-billion dollar business. Media maven Oprah Winfrey also keeps active by walking at least five miles daily. These and countless other highly successful individuals manage to keep a regular fitness routine, which not only keeps them healthy but also enhances their brainpower.
They’ve achieved great success through determination, grit, and hard work. However, regular people may argue that they don’t enjoy the same privilege that Mr. Cook or Ms. Winfrey has. You’d be forgiven for thinking that their great success is what allowed them to lead well-rounded lives, to begin with.
But make no mistake — being physically fit is closely linked to attaining professional success. Even if these success stories don’t quite inspire you, here are reasons why leveraging your body is key to achieving professional success.
How exercising helps achieve professional success
It boosts memory and thinking
The brain needs the right amount of oxygen and nutrients to function optimally. A 40-minute workout increases blood flow to the brain and exposes it to more oxygen and nutrients. And the more nourishment the brain gets, the better it performs. In particular, it helps improve brain functions such as problem solving, decision making, and retaining information.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin produced in the brain, plays an important role in brain cell growth. Studies have shown that rigorous exercise boosts BDNF levels and increases cognitive functioning. A study made by the University of British Columbia supports this with their finding that regular aerobic exercise boosts the part of the brain that centers on verbal memory and learning.
It helps break bad habits
Bad habits can make or break a person’s professional success. But when work is becoming too stressful, people tend to indulge in escapist behavior, like watching TV, binge-drinking alcohol, and eating junk food. This cycle could become a habit and have long-term consequences. It can also erode one’s sense of discipline.
This is due to a surge of dopamine or the brain’s “reward chemical.” When you do something that you know is bad, such as drinking excessively, it becomes a hard habit to kick because your body develops a craving for that high. Fortunately, exercising gives you a similar high. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy level of dopamine and serotonin, which can reduce the impulse to engage in bad habits. Developing an exercise habit can, in turn, help you become more focused in your personal and professional endeavors.
It reduces stress
Slow-burning stress resulting from an overwhelming amount of work can take a toll on your physical health — it increases your risk of contracting chronic illnesses, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular diseases, and many more. Stress also significantly impacts workplace productivity.
Although work-related stress is normal and even useful in small doses, chronic stress directly affects your success at work. For one, absenteeism due to stress is one of its many severe effects on burnt-out employees.
There are multiple ways to manage stress, one of which is to engage in physical fitness activities. This stress-coping technique is recommended by healthcare professionals, as exercising induces the release of endorphins, which helps facilitate better sleep that can reduce stress.
It builds your strength and ambition
As you exercise more, your confidence grows. And with greater confidence, you develop a sharper mind that lets you handle professional situations with ease. This, in turn, makes you more willing to share ideas, tackle challenging tasks, foster networks that help your career, and become a positive influence in the workplace. Having a stronger body lets you overcome difficulties — whether it’s at the free weights area or at boardroom meetings.
It compels you to set schedules and goals
The way you set goals and create schedules to achieve your fitness goal could parallel how you set one for your professional pursuits. Perhaps you already have a fitness routine and wish to increase the intensity of your workouts. Likewise, you may want to be promoted at work and move to a more challenging and rewarding role. To achieve your fitness or professional ambitions, it’s crucial to have clear goals and to create timelines for when you wish to achieve them.
It makes you more competitive
One of the barriers to keeping an active lifestyle is the lack of convenient access to gyms. This is why companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple provide fitness facilities (or “secret exercise labs” in the case of Apple) for their employees. This is in line with their health and wellness benefits, but it is also a way for these organizations to encourage a competitive culture among their workforce.
With fitness facilities close by, you don’t have to feel defeated every time you can’t go to the gym because of a hectic schedule.
Bottom line: health affects professional success
Whether you want to achieve a better physique or climb up the corporate ladder, you shouldn’t take shortcuts. That doesn’t mean you have to work yourself to the ground. Knowing what your body and mind can tolerate and setting limits based on your capabilities are crucial.
Even Richard Branson, the billionaire who founded the Virgin Group, sets his work and workout limits. And it’s certainly not because he quits when he feels tired that he has achieved great success. It’s that he knows when to stop when his mind and body tell him to.
The link between physical fitness and professional success is a new yet exciting area of study. The above are just a few of the many examples showing the significant correlation between people’s ability to perform at their highest potential and their level of physical fitness.
Physical fitness and workplace success are intertwined. If a busy work schedule is keeping you from maintaining a fitness routine, Facet Seven’s online fitness coaching can help!
About The Author
Founder & Training Director
Layn has spent his life immersed in the worlds of fitness and physical performance. As an athlete, he’s completed multiple endurance events such as the Texas Bandera 50k Trail Run, Austria’s Ironman 70.3, and the Alaskaman Extreme Ironman. He’s been coaching since 2008 with certifications in USA Weightlifting Level 1, CrossFit Level 1, Strong First L1, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine.