Five surprising ways boosting your fitness routine can improve your leadership skills

Need an extra incentive to exercise? Here are five surprising ways boosting your fitness routine can improve your leadership skills.

Among the many qualities that make a good leader are the abilities to be decisive, confident, and motivated. It can take years to hone these skills, and even when they have developed, it’s important to find ways to sustain them.

One method with which to do this is with regular exercise. The benefits of a consistent, complete fitness routine are vast, but many do not realise that improving leadership skills is one of them.

Read on to understand more about the relationship between physical activity and leadership.

1) Fitness brings you clarity

Aerobic exercise, in particular, stimulates the hippocampus area of the brain – the area that impacts learning and memory.

One study revealed that exercise benefits brain function and cognition, which in turn means that an individual is better-equipped to reason and make informed decisions.

Professionals in senior positions that involve leading others will likely be faced with tough decisions on a regular basis. On these occasions it’s important to think clearly and know your mind, rather than hesitate and second guess yourself. 

2) Exercise helps you manage stress

After a long and stressful day of work many people find comfort and peace through exercise. Whether this is going for a run, or spending twenty minutes hitting a punch bag, the reason why exercise makes you feel better is because it triggers the release of endorphins.

Endorphins are hormones that, when released, stimulate the opiate receptors in the brain. This leads to a boost in pleasure and reduction in pain.

Regular exercise therefore means a regular release of endorphins, which, for leaders, is useful for reducing stress. By choosing to spend time in a gym, or attending a weekly fitness class, leaders can hone the ability to stay calm and collected during difficult periods.

3) Physical activity stimulates creativity

Another little-known benefit of exercise is its ability to encourage creative thinking. This is thought to be related to the birth, and increased life span, of new brain cells in the hippocampus.

One experiment has shown that going for walks helps people when coming up with ideas, and another study has revealed that regular exercise can help facilitate creative problem solving.

Both of these results are useful to a professional in a leadership position, who is likely to need to think outside the box at times when it comes to solving problems and coming up with new ideas. 

4) Fitness goals keep you motivated

Those who maintain a fitness regime will often re-examine it whenever they wish to change their aim. This could be in the form of number of miles on a bike, or reps with weights, but a constantly moving goal keeps you motivated and inspired to keep going. This is an important habit to get into when it comes to leadership too, and one of the reasons why many companies started offering gym reimbursement programs.

As a leader, there will likely be days when you’re met with disdain and discouragement – either from your team or from senior colleagues. When instances like this happen, it’s important to stay positive and motivated.

If your team sees that you believe something can be achieved, they are far more likely to feel inspired and continue working hard alongside you.

5) Exercise is a known mood-lifter

The release of endorphins that happens with exercise is the reason why we feel happy and well after carrying out physical activity. In addition to helping with stress management, this general positive attitude is beneficial for leadership because it will help to lift spirits within your team.

Just as negativity is infectious, so is positivity. So, when a leader approaches their colleagues with a smile, optimism, and appreciation, they are far more likely to respond in kind than be pessimistic and uncooperative.

Leadership comes with new and unforeseen challenge on a regular basis, and it’s only with patience and motivation that the strongest leaders are separated from the weak. 

To experience all these benefits that are associated with physical activity, leaders must develop a fitness regime that they will stick to. One of the easiest ways to do this is to join a gym with a friend or partner, so that you can encourage one another to go, and to meet goals while you’re there. 

The article was written by Foxhills, the UK’s leading luxury country Spa resort in Surrey.

Photo by Noah Silliman