Finding time to hit the gym or run three miles can be a real challenge for overscheduled small business owners. When you’re taking customer calls, dashing to the next meeting and keeping track of the books, exercise can quickly fall to the bottom of the “to do” list.
Even physically fit entrepreneurs often find themselves battling the bulge as their success grows. The combination of overworking, meals on the run and not enough exercise is a common story and a recipe for a host of health problems. With busy schedules and high stress levels, strategic business owners who want to sustain their pace quickly learn that exercise, along with other elements of healthy living like eating right and a regular sleep schedule, is absolutely essential to their success.
Of course, exercise is a very individualized activity. For some, a daily walk is enough to keep energy levels high and heath in check. Others push their physical limits by training for triathlons. With so many options, we decided to ask some busy entrepreneurs how they are able to stay in shape while also managing their hectic schedules. They provided us with some fantastic tips that may help inspire you to get more active.
Many studies have shown a vast array of health hazards caused by sitting for eight hours a day. From organ damage and muscle degeneration to back problems and brain fog, prolonged sitting at a desk can cause a chain of problems from head to toe.
Unfortunately, many business owners begin to feel anxiety over not having time for an hour-long workout, and subsequently put off exercise for another day. Instead of stressing about your lack of exercise while you continue to sit, a better approach is to simply try and incorporate more movement into everyday activities. This can be as simple as standing during conference calls, replacing your reclining office chair with a stability ball, or starting the morning with a brisk five minute walk.
Perhaps the most important tip when it comes to staying in shape is to simply move more.
“The gym can be great, but it’s not necessary,” says Holly Ladd, owner of Holly Ladd Health Coaching. “All we really need to do is walk, stand and take the stairs instead of elevators. We all don’t have to be Mr. or Mrs. Atlas. We just need to move more than we do.”
When you don’t have time to drive to a gym and spend an hour working out on weights and cardio equipment, it’s tempting to just give up on the idea of exercise. Yet, the gym is only one option. Whether you live in a city or in a rural setting, opportunities for getting fit abound if you’re willing to experiment.
For Bernie Clark, co-founder of Majux, a digital marketing agency in Philadelphia, the best option wasn’t found at his local gym. “The problem for me is that I find running, biking and going to the gym to be incredibly boring, says Bernie. “The alternative I found that works for me is joining recreational sports leagues for sports that I’m new at or historically not good at. This appeals to personality traits that I think also help me in business. First, I’m competitive, so I will make the time to practice in order to get better. Second, I’m a team player. I would never want to let anyone down whether in business or in bar-league sand volleyball. Unlike running by myself where I can justify pushing it off for business reasons, being part of a team forces me to make time to show up.”
Lead by Example
As a business owner, staying in shape can also set an example for those who work for you. And, this can even improve your bottom line! Healthy employees are more productive, take fewer sick days and are less likely to go on disability. By making fitness a business-wide focus that starts with your own efforts, you will improve your health and your team’s health while possibly even improving the performance of your business.
Christopher Foss, co-founder of Ironistic.com, a website strategy, design and development company, decided to incorporate health and wellness into their business model by implementing a program that offers incentives to their employees to stay healthy.
Christopher says, “In order to lead by example, the program forces my wife and me to stay healthy, too. Each month, we have a “theme” that if you meet the requirements, at least 50 percent of the time for that month, you’ll get a $50 gift certificate. We have “Great Outdoors” month when we have to spend 20 minutes a day participating in a physical activity and “Bone and Joint Health” month when we have to complete three sets of 15 reps of resistance training each day. And, the list goes on. Because we lead by example, each month we are forced to participate in order to further encourage our employees to participate. It’s fun and helps us all stay fit!
Use Workout Time for Business
A growing number of entrepreneurs are taking a page out of Steve Jobs’ playbook by scheduling walking meetings. Instead of getting up from your desk to sit in a conference room, it can often be far more productive to take the meeting outside. Jobs frequently took long walks as his preferred way to have long, in-depth business conversations. Other notable thinkers, including Aristotle, Sigmund Freud and Harry Truman, also relied on frequent, ritualistic walks to talk with others and to brainstorm.
As founder of OnlyAtoms, a running and fitness apparel brand, Beth Weinstein has embraced the concept of combining business and fitness. “I can sometimes do walking meetings and walking calls much better than just sitting and talking,” says Beth. “I run with business acquaintances and potential investors who also run.”
Beth also knows that an opportunity for business might happen while exercising. “When I run or workout, I wear my products and meet many potential supporters and customers. You can network, and meet lots of potential customers, advisors and supporters by doing group classes or group exercising. My tip is to join running groups, go to Crossfit classes, join a soccer team and make friends in spin class. You never know who you’ll meet, and as we all know, word-of-mouth is key!”
Find Something You Love to Do
Crunches, squats and 30 minutes on the treadmill can keep you in shape, but they aren’t always the most inspiring exercises. For business owners who are short on time and attention, finding something a little more exciting is necessary for sustaining a long-term workout routine.
Dr. Kathy Gruver runs a busy medical massage and hypnotherapy practice while also being an author and speaker. Her website can be found at TheAlternativeMedicineCabinet.com. She was finding that as she was taking care of her patients, her own health began to suffer. She wasn’t feeling inspired to exercise, and knew she needed to find something that appealed to her more than just going to a gym.
“The key for me was finding something I was truly passionate about,” says Kathy. “I discovered that passion as a child through dance, and I enjoyed it greatly. I never considered dancing as an adult. But, when I went to my first hip-hop dance class, I was hooked. I found something that filled me with joy, and I had the passion for making time for it. When it comes to fitness, people think they “should” be doing certain things. But, the key is personalization and finding something that speaks to you. When you have that, you will find time for it.”
Do you have a great tip for staying in shape while juggling the challenges of entrepreneurship? We’d love to share it with the Kabbage community. Please include your tip in the comment box below.