I like to do weight training, but there are times, mainly because of my schedule, where I can’t be at the gym as much as I would normally like to be. As much as I hate missing my workouts, I am reminded in those times how valuable the exercise is to me.
I have always encouraged leaders to have a regular exercise routine. I think it’s a necessary discipline for a healthy leader. If you aren’t currently an active exerciser, I have some practical, first-hand experience to encourage you to begin.
Here are some reasons I need to exercise:
1. Forced down time
I discovered that my time exercising is one of the few times each day where I am not answering emails, taking phone calls or doing something that requires mental power. Exercise forces me to be still—my mind is cleared to pray more, to think more.
2. Physical health
I’m able to maintain my weight better when I am running. I feel better. I sleep better. My blood pressure tests lower. The doctor’s office loves taking my vitals when I am in a regular exercise routine.
3. Mental stimulation
My best ideas come when I am exercising consistently – my body and my mind, are just more active. I suppose my body is energized and that helps everything work better. God seems to work more in my mind during those days—probably because I’m able to give Him better access to my mind.
Long days are nothing for me when I am in a healthy workout discipline. It seems counterintuitive, but I have more energy in the day—not less—when I’m exercising regularly.
5. Maximum effectiveness
While exercise seems to take time out of my day, it actually ends up being the most effective use of my time. It increases my productivity and gives me a better overall attitude toward my work (and life). I’ve learned from experience that on my busiest days I need to try to break away and exercise in the middle of the day. The fastest way for me to get out of a productivity slump is to step away from the “work” and go for a short (or long) walk, especially if I haven’t been able to spend time at the gym as I normally do in the early morning.
6. Eat with less worry
I enjoy food. A lot. People will often make a comment I must not enjoy food as much as they do because I seem to maintain my weight. The reality is they’ve never seen me eat. (Or at least have never seen me eat chocolate. Can you say chocaholic?) I don’t think you can totally ignore your diet regardless of how much you exercise. I try to be healthier in most of my choices, and I do watch what I eat (wish I was better at how much), but I pretty much eat what I want. I’m certainly never hungry long. Exercise affords me less guilt in my diet and the occasional splurges I enjoy.
7. Stress reduction
I find if I’m especially stressed, a good sweat gives me a calmer perspective. It’s an excellent way to decompress. It’s crazy how much not working out added to my tension. My chiropractor even noticed it! I know I did too. I’m a nicer person to be around when I’m working out regularly. It took me a while to associate the cause of additional stress on the lack of exercise, but the return to healthy routines made it clear. Staying in a disciplined routine has real value that has been proven to me.
Do you have a regular Exercise routine?
It doesn’t have to be weight training (in fact, most of you probably go “Yuck!”) but it should be something. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before you start something extreme, but I’ve never had a doctor who didn’t value some form of exercise.
If you are not regularly exercising—especially if you’re a leader—answer this question:
Considering the stress in your life, and how productive you hope to be with your life, could beginning the discipline of exercise be one of the missing ingredients?
Let me be a voice of encouragement to you. Find the exercise routine which works best for you, discipline yourself for 30 to 40 days, then enjoy the lifetime of benefits.