3 surprising reasons physical fitness is critical to entrepreneurial success

When it comes to establishing priorities, exercise often comes second to work. After all, why block out several hours a week for running, using the stair climber or weight training when you could be focusing on completing a project and solving a problem? That is the justification for many businessmen and women, but as many others have come to realize, physical activity can be a very an integral component of finding success as an entrepreneur.

According to a recent blog post by Michael Hyatt of Your Virtual Mentor, after years of putting exercise second to his job, clocking in regular physical activity not only improved his health, but it has also improved his business.

"In fact, I'd say at this point that regular exercise is integral to my success as an entrepreneur," said Mr. Hyatt.

Mr. Hyatt offers the following three unexpected reasons why regular physical activity "is a Godsend" for entrepreneurs.

1. Exercise refines your competitiveness. Exercise is tied to wealth-creation, according to one Finnish study that found that twins who exercised earned significantly higher incomes than their inactive siblings. The study was able to determine that regular exercise helps build the necessary character traits for work success.

"I’ve seen this in my own life," said Mr. Hyatt. "Not only does completing a tough workout instill confidence and a positive sense of accomplishment, but to maintain my exercise regimen, I've had to sharpen my self-discipline and increase my capacity for self-sacrifice. These traits are directly applicable in a business environment."

But, Mr. Hyatt said there are more benefits. He said he was also able to refine skills related to efficiency, dedication, planning and focus to help him navigate through competing interests and opportunities. Even during periods of high stress, keeping exercise a high priority was an important part of maintaining a positive work environment.

2. Exercise helps establish a healthy work-life balance. The most common justification for not engaging in regular physical activity is not having time and being too busy with work. However, research shows that incorporating exercise into your daily activities actually enhances a work-life balance, even though it may seem counterintuitive.

According to researcher Russell Clayton, exercise lowers stress and anxiety levels, which is "tantamount to an expansion of time." Also, exercise boosts confidence about accomplishing difficult tasks. A greater sense of efficacy leads to higher productivity at work and confidence in the ability to balance work with one's personal life.

3. Exercise improves problem-solving skills. "At its most basic, entrepreneurialism is just problem solving for money," Mr. Hyatt said. "The better we are at solving problems — especially complex and challenging ones — the greater potential for income."

According to the Washington Post, there is a direct link between exercise and problem-solving capabilities, creativity and planning. Just one workout can boost higher-order thinking skills, which in turn makes you more productive and efficient. Exercising your body benefits your brain because of the increased blood flow.

Specifically, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that facilitates the growth of neurons and nourishes existing ones, is released in the brain during exercise. BDNF improves various aspects of higher-order thinking, which allows people to formulate arguments, develop strategies, solve problems creatively and synthesize information, according to the Post.

In addition to the physiological benefits, time spent exercising is a great opportunity for critical thinking in an environment other than the office.

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