There is no shortage of studies showing the benefits of exercise; improved learning and memory function resulting from acute aerobic exercise to the stress busting benefits of high intensity workouts, and all the bits in between.
Having been active from a young age, playing hockey internationally and studying psychology and sports science at university, I’ve gained a good understanding of the benefits of staying fit and active as well as the consequences of not, especially as I get older! I definitely notice the difference when I don’t exercise regularly; I feel sluggish, struggle to sleep properly, feel more anxious, lose focus more easily, and my ageing body starts to moan a lot more! So for me, staying ‘fit and healthy’ is a no-brainer.
Successful leaders understand that making a relatively small investment can deliver great returns. If it was purely an economical decision, it would be an easy one. Type ‘CEO fitness regime’ into google and there are pages upon pages of examples of how highly successful people get up at the crack of dawn, smash out an intensive workout, then are at their first meeting of the day before most people have hit the snooze button for the umpteenth time. Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerburg have put much of their success down to their health and fitness regimes. So they clearly think similarly.
In my view, it’s the psychological and social aspects of a good leader’s perception of and investment in health more generally that are the most important. The recognition that being fitter or healthier can deliver better performance is at the centre of the their outlook. This requires commitment and motivation towards a goal, knowledge, effective application of that knowledge, a willingness to ask for help from specialists, and an understanding that a leader’s role is to lead by example. This focus influences how the individual structures his or her day and manifests in how he or she treats others, from family to friends to staff around them. The latter defining consciously or subconsciously the importance placed on workplace health and wellbeing that can ultimately drive business performance. This is reflected in others’ perceptions of that leader, and as such, is perhaps held in higher regard than those that don’t demonstrate these behaviours.
As with many busy people, finding the time to fit in regular high-quality exercise has been a challenge. That’s the exact reason I set up we:bo last year. And I’ve been using it pretty much every day since! I’m not a fan of the gym (partly because I’m reluctant to pay for the massive generic overheads gyms pass onto customers, no matter how fancy the machines are) and I don’t want to waste time travelling in rush hour traffic only to be 10 minutes late and stuck at the back of an already oversubscribed class. But mostly, I want personalised advice. I want to be pushed but in the right way. Anyone can tell me to do more, but to help me improve the quality of what I do requires considered feedback and encouragement. Add in the flexibility it provides, I’m able to fit it into even the most hectic of days, and most importantly, I feel and perform better as a result, making me more resilient, stay alert for longer periods and manage stressful situations, and ultimately make more effective decisions.
Sanjeev Virdi – Husband, Father, Founder at we:bo