Healthy body, healthy business

Many small-business owners would love to tell you about their health and fitness routine, if only they had time for one. Here are some compelling reasons to make time.

“Strength training and aerobic exercise both protect brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline,” reported Business Insider. “Both cardio and resistance training have effects that researchers think could help counteract burnout in the workplace.”

Researchers are not sure of all of the reasons why regular exercise helps defend our minds against decline, but studies suggest there is a connection between regular aerobic exercise and improved memory. If you don’t feel you have time for regular exercise, consider making a small habit change to start.

Instead of working straight through your lunchtime or eating at your desk, consider going for a walk during the first half of your time. One 30-minute walk a day for the purpose of exercise and without being on the phone might give you the break you need to clear your mind. Walking can be cardio exercise—make sure it feels like you’re getting moderate to vigorous exercise and walk at a very fast pace. Your heart, lungs and blood vessels will be getting a workout if you feel like you can talk but not sing and you feel some flush in your face, or even warm enough to remove a layer of outerwear. While more benefit is gained by more exercise, walking is a great place to start when you feel unable to devote more time to exercise.

You can also make a small habit shift with strength training, which studies show have the specific benefit of reducing the risk of cognitive decline and could help counteract workplace burnout. Where starting a walking or running habit may seem relatively easy once you make the decision (No equipment! Who doesn’t know how to move their feet?), strength training can be more intimidating. However, you don’t necessarily need equipment or a physical trainer to begin strength training.

A few months ago, I did a 30-day burpee challenge. I did 30 burpees every day for 30 days. During my self-imposed challenge, I could do my burpees any time during the day, they did not have to be consecutive and I did not replace any other part of my exercise with the burpees—they were in addition to the exercise I was already doing. Here’s what I got out of it, and why daily burpees might be so suited to a busy business-owner’s life:

– You don’t need any special equipment. This means you can do burpees virtually anywhere. You could start them in the morning at home before you run out the door, or you could do a few between meetings in your office. When you don’t finish them as early as you’d like, finish them inside next to your bed or the living room.

– Burpees work a variety of muscle groups. You’ll find soreness in your core, arms and legs, because burpees work so much of your body. This means that besides the reported mental benefits of strength training, your whole body will eventually feel leaner and more toned.

– You don’t need to do many burpees to reap benefits, which means you don’t need to devote as much time to your exercise. Burpees are a full body exercise, so you don’t need to do as many as you would do push-ups, jumping jacks or crunches to get a good workout.

– Every so often, I would watch a quick video on YouTube™ about how to do a burpee properly. I tried to improve my form a little each time and within just a few minutes I was able to go from a burpee that looked weirdly similar to the ones my four-year-old does to a burpee that looks like I have done a few before. Find a workout or exercise that is easy to find videos of online to make sure you have proper form. It is best to consult a professional for proper technique.

Consider trying something like my burpee challenge. You could look up a quick HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine to do tonight after work—HIIT workouts aim to maximize the amount of time you have with intense, short bursts of exercise. Start with an attainable goal or workout so you aren’t devoting more time to a workout than is realistic in your daily life.

“Studies have found that regular exercise is associated with increases in cognitive performance, memory and brain volume,” reported Business Insider. Make sure that the habit shift you are trying to make is something you can continue. Once you start, your willingness or ability to prioritize more of your time for your health and fitness may grow. Also, make sure you consult a doctor before you begin any new fitness routine.


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