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Would You Join a Gym to Improve Your Bottom Line?

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Would You Join a Gym to Improve Your Bottom Line?

Last spring I decided to do a bit of a mental makeover, so that I can run my business better, work more effectively and be happier in general. I struggled with scattered thinking, emotional waves, and the stereotypical bad habits of Small Business workaholics. And of course, all these showed up in my results.

My wish list was extensive – including improved confidence, resilience, flexibility, creativity, balance, mental clarity, a sense of progress, and so on – I was looking for a one stop shop. But instead of enrolling for another promising personal development program, I joined a great gym (Virgin Active), with the firm intention to actually make good use of my membership.

The trainer who signed me up and enquired about my training goals didn’t raise an eyebrow when he heard my answers. He knew that exercise doesn’t just help the body, but that a strong, flexible and balanced body provides the perfect home for a strong, flexible and balanced mind.

In fact, regular exercise is a brilliant way of tackling many business challenges and skyrocketing productivity.

“The human brain evolved under conditions of almost constant motion. From this, one might predict that the optimal environment for processing information would include motion.” – as John Medina points out in his book, Brain Rules.

Physical exercise helps the various functions of your body work in unison towards your greatness. It increases heart rate and sends extra oxygen to the brain, along with a cocktail of beneficial hormones. It repairs damaged brain cells, stimulates the growth of new cells, and boosts neuroplasticity – your ability to learn.

As a result:

1. You will feel more positive.

Exercise helps reduce stress, depression and anxiety, and prepares you to handle stressful situations better. It boosts your confidence and self-worth, and makes you feel more motivated and optimistic. After challenging your body you will certainly feel a sense of achievement.

2. Your mind will be sharper.

After a workout you’ll focus better, think more quickly and accurately, and find it easier to learn and recall information from memory. Your mind will open up to solutions and your creativity will flow. As a result, you will respond to complex situations better, and make smarter decisions and better plans.

3. Your habits will improve.

You’ll probably notice that your craving for unhealthy foods (and smoking) will fade, and your sleep quality and digestion will improve. All these impact your mood and brain power. But perhaps most importantly, an exercise routine will prompt you to leave your desk, look after yourself, and explore a whole new world of making a difference away from the screen.

Personally, I find that moving my body helps me get out of my head, tap into my intuition and find my authentic voice. My best thinking happens while I’m riding my bike, attending a gym class, or enjoying my well-deserved happy half an hour in the pool after a workout. My head clears, and ideas start to pop up. By the time I get back to my desk, I’ve overcome some mental blocks and work flows easily.

When and how …

The best time to exercise is in the morning – this will prepare your brain for the work ahead and allow you to enjoy enhanced performance all day. Nevertheless, exercising later in the day is still worthwhile, as many of the benefits are long lasting.

Aim to exercise at least three times a week, and for at least 30 minutes per session. The more you work out, the more your brain benefits. To boost your grey matter, moderate intensity cardio is the best – anything that makes you sweat but allows you to speak normally, like walking briskly or riding a bike. Activities that are mentally challenging or require coordination – such as ball games or dancing – are especially potent.

To stay motivated, make exercise fun. Set goals, track your progress, and reward yourself when hitting a milestone. Mix up your workout routine from time to time. Join training groups. Use gamification apps. The tools available are endless.

To sum it up, a pulse-pounding workout will fill you with positive thoughts and good ideas, and make you clearer and sharper. Ultimately, this could make the difference between having a good day and a horrible day at work. So if you’re pressed for time, and think that skipping exercise will allow you to get more work done, think again. Your time – and sweat – will very likely pay off.

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