The Link Between Exercise and Professional Success

By Sara McIntosh

It’s easy for all of us to say that once we enter the professional world the afternoons at the gym are quickly forgotten. We quickly gain weight, spend more time at those happy hours with colleagues and clients, fancy dinners and parties, as well as other events that are more likely to reduce our physical fitness than improve it. And the reason being… career success is more of a focus than physical health! But, what do some of the most successful executives in our country say about the true value of physical fitness and their professional success?

Some of the things that are most necessary in order to climb the professional ladder include mental focus, energy, improved time management skills and overall improved work performance. Certain research has shown that professionals are able to return to work with improved attention, increased mental sharpness, and reduced stress and fatigue. These traits lead to overall increase in productivity, a better mood, and an understanding of how to create solutions to problems in the workplace.

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So, is it about losing weight? Or, possibly is it more about improved health, mood and overall tolerance? Work can be a stressful situation at times, especially when increased weight (no pun intended!) is placed on the shoulders of a manager or executive. The answer found in many of these studies shows that it simply takes three to four exercise sessions a week, at about 30-45 minutes each to achieve these objectives. Sometimes it is as simple as getting up a half hour early a few days a week for a quick jog or a yoga or pilates session in the living room. It is easier than you think to integrate these sessions into your weekly schedule, even though work is of the highest priority.

It is interesting that high-level executives have provided some information on this improved health in alignment with increased professional productivity:

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The founder and CEO of an executive search firm said, “Good physical fitness is critical to success as an executive in today’s work world. The days of a little extra padding being a sign of maturity and success are gone.”  When asked about obesity, 75% of executives said that being overweight is a “serious career impediment.”

It is the overall finding that physical fitness and exercise are able to help maintain sound mental fitness as well. There are many successful, top-of-the-ladder executives, who have named a physical fitness routine as part of their success, particularly when it comes to enhanced productivity. These individuals include the following:

  1. Congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi
  2. Panera Bread CEO, Ron Shaich
  3. Senator, Wendy Davis
  4. Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ CEO, Frits van Paaschen
  5. Citigroup CEO, Michael Corbat
  6. Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice
  7. Founder of, Aaron Patzer
  8. Oprah Winfrey
  9. Richard Branson
  10. Anna Wintour
  11. Former President, Barack Obama

Imagine how much easier the daily production of the office would run if we all invested just a little time in our physical health as well as our work, social media and phones? Think it over!




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