Can you really become smarter with fitness? We explore…It’s that time of year when new faces flood the local gyms with high hopes and New Year’s resolutions.
Deciding to start the 2015 with a renewed focus on your fitness and health is a big step. Whether you’re trying to look better, attract a mate, live longer, slim down or tone up, there are plenty of reasons to get serious and make fitness a focus in your life.
The main problem and any gym manager will confirm this, is that people don’t tend to stick with their plans. After a just month or two, the ranks thin and many New Year’s resolutions are left by the wayside. One way to prevent yourself from joining this disappointing statistic is to find real motivation to keep you focused and motivated. Remember to start with a beginner workout and not try something to crazy as it will reduce your chances of burning out.
Would making more money over the course of your career keep you focused?
Compound Your Interest in Fitness
Aside from looking better, living longer and improving your health, have you considered what fitness can do for your performance in business? Most of us have to make a living to support ourselves and families. For a variety of reasons that we’ll examine, you can improve your performance in the workplace by living an active, fitness-oriented lifestyle with regular exercise and a simple diet plan. Improved mental sharpness, memory recall, consistent energy and motivation are just the beginning.
Now consider the performance enhancing effect of fitness compounded over the course of your career and we’re getting into some real motivation. When you think of leading a more fulfilling, financially successful life over the course of your career in business, you just might have an extra push to get you out of bed when that first alarm goes off.
Fitter Body, Fitter Mind (and Wallet)
First off, vices are expensive and so is take-out. Cigarettes, alcohol and comfort food do nothing to improve your performance and end up costing you more money. Vegetables are the cheapest food by weight and have the highest benefit. Walking and biking also save you money over transportation costs. Aside from these smart savings, let’s look at how physical activity can literally make your brain work better.
In his book A Users Guide to the Brain, John J. Ratey, MD an associate Harvard professor,compares exercise to the effectiveness of Ritalin or Prozac and cites the power of movement for improving mood, focus and feelings of well being. An hour of exercise has been shown to carry greater benefits for conditions like depression and anxiety than popular prescription drug regimens.
In recent years, studies have proven that exercise makes you smarter, plain and simple. In his book Spark, Ratey points out that children perform better in school if they begin their day by expelling physical energy. In this sense, working out the body improves the mind’s ability to be still and focused. Memory recall and quickness of thought are also augmented.
Regular high intensity exercise improves our energy levels, stamina and focus. Every one of us can benefit from these effects. Instead of another coffee at 3:00 pm, consider a brisk walk or a quick set of 30 push-ups to ramp up brain wave activity.
Exude Confidence, Gain Respect
In any business situation or negotiation that life throws at you, confidence is key. Of course, everyone would feel more confident approaching human interaction with a ripped six pack and show-stopping biceps, but the psychological effect of consistent exercise goes a bit deeper than outward appearance.
First off, while your outward appearance improves over the course of a workout guide, the reactions of others to your progress will continue to build your internal confidence. However, on a deeper level, your experience of ongoing improvement, from whatever your starting point, will reassure you of your path and improve your self-confidence.
By building a confident foundation internally, your ability to make decisions and execute tasks without second guessing yourself is increased many times over. Add to this the improved mental performance that is associated with regular physical activity, and you have yourself quite the snowballing effect of positivity.
Rethink Appearance and Body Language
What does your appearance say about the way you conduct yourself and how you do business?
It is no secret that first impressions matter. You wouldn’t show up to an interview in wrinkled clothes with scuffed up shoes and a sloppy old tie that could impair the impression you give. So, what impression is your body giving? The point is not that everyone should have a particular body type or fit any particular profile—not at all. However, body language communicates a great deal without a word spoken aloud.
The way that you carry yourself when you enter a room, how you sit in a chair, how you maintain eye contact and a variety of other unspoken queues are all improved with an ongoing pursuit of fitness. Whether it’s from actually strengthening your posture or simply from the self-confidence that you experience from watching yourself steadily improve, at any fitness level, people will pick up on the change. It’s not about how you look, but how you feel about yourself.
In the same way that every smoker knows they should quit each time they have a cigarette, at this point everyone knows they should be exercising—everyone. If you’re someone who bounces back and forth from fitness plans and diets, you’re probably already familiar with that nagging guilty feeling you get when you disregard your goals. That little voice in the back of your head tells you that you did something wrong by skipping the gym or by giving into the temptation of that junk food. This voice in the back of our minds during an interview or important meeting is nothing but destructive.
How you feel about yourself will directly dictate how others see you. When you know that you’re treating your body right and striving to improve, there is a tangible, visible communication of these internal feelings, without a single word spoken about the gym or your goals. The same can be said when you’ve been abusing your body or ignoring its real needs. In an interview or negotiation, which of these unspoken conversations do you want to have?
Beat the Desk & Become Smarter WithFitness
One of the worst side effects of office life is the spinal implication of sitting in a chair all day staring at a screen. Our nervous system that is responsible for transmitting key signals and regulating the immune system throughout the body is contained in our spine. A healthy spine means immune efficiency and the converse is also true. Desk chairs are just about the worst thing for our spines.
We are inherently animals, and just like our pets, we need to get outside and run around (or inside to move some weights). Living the sedentary lifestyle that has become all too common for Americans leads to impaired immune function, depression and lack of motivation.
No matter how much you love your job, nobody performs at their best when sick. Again, frame this in the long-term perspective and the cumulative effect of spending more time sick and underperforming can greatly reduce our success over the span of a career. If your performance is enhanced by consistent health, and you earn more money over the span of your career due to this increase in efficiency, it’s almost like you’re getting paid to work out.
As you consider a renewed focus on fitness in the coming year, look past the superficial benefits of improved appearance and consider the long term.
If you’re a career-oriented professional, you can use the highly increased chances of lifelong financial success to keep you motivated in the gym or wherever you choose to sweat. The endorphins produced by a daily shot of intense exercise have benefits that can carry major positive impact across every situation you face in business.
So this year, keep the big picture in perspective when the alarm goes off and stick with your goals. From improving your mental acuity, stamina and memory recall, to building a more self-assured, confident self, the compound effect of fitness on your career is simply too beneficial to ignore.
P.S Who’s starting the new years resolutions? I want to hear about it comment below!
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