As a CEO or business leader you may think your health and your business are two separate things. But it’s not true. Few CEOs would like to admit it, but these two aspects of life rely on each other in a fundamental way. When one falters, so does the other.
Poor health and a poor lifestyle on the part of the CEO can result in the decline and even the death of the business.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can stop that from happening.
How the leadership lifestyle can make you unhealthy
Overseeing the dealings of an entire company can be time-consuming and filled with pressure. Many businesspeople never consider how their lifestyle is affecting their health. So let’s examine some of the ways in which work commitments can ruin a CEO’s physical health.
Being an entrepreneur is stressful: While many thrive on the thrill of business, the daily stresses of being a CEO add up and can take their toll. According to the American Institute of Stress, occupational strains can lead to back pain, headaches and fatigue, all of which can interfere with the day-to-day running of your business.
According to the American Institute of Stress, occupational strains can lead to back pain, headaches and fatigue, all of which can interfere with the day-to-day running of your business.
And stress can have long-term effects on your physical health, especially cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems. For the sake of your own future health, to say nothing of the impact on your business, it’s crucial that you reduce your stress levels.
Jet-set lifestyles are dangerous: If you’re running a large multinational company, frequent long-haul travel is often unavoidable. One of the great advantages of the modern world is the ability we have to jet from place to place at the drop of a hat. However, could the jet-set lifestyle be playing havoc with your health?
A new study published this year in Transportation Research suggests this lifestyle may be more troublesome than we first thought. Many people experience physiological and psycho-social distress when work forces them to travel, and in particular fly, on a regular basis.
There’s little or no time to exercise: Since the advent of the smartphone more of us are effectively ‘on call’ 24/7. There’s just no such thing as switching off. The Center for Creative Leadership recently reported that executives and managers are in touch with work for an incredible 13.5 hours per day. That’s the majority of our waking hours.
In short, many business leaders are neglecting their health and fitness in favour of other activities – with a direct impact on the success of their enterprises and their ability to run a business.
Changes you can make to ensure you and your business stay healthy
Okay, so clearly being a leader has the potential to make you unhealthy. And as a business leader’s health declines – often as a result of the stress they’re under – the company starts to suffer in a tangible way. Let’s look at how being physically unhealthy affects your chances of professional success, and what you can do about it.
The importance of exercise: Regular exercise can help you to combat the negative physical effects of high stress levels. A study in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that while stress increases your risk of heart problems, exercise can decrease it.
What’s more, a lack of exercise leads to a lack of creativity. The ability to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions for your business is an essential feature of leadership. Without it, your company is likely to stagnate and your profits will take a hit. In order to sustain competitiveness for your business, you need to be creative. When you are struggling to get into your flow, exercise might be the answer. That is, at least, according to a study in the Creativity Research Journal. It suggests that the creative potential of a person surges directly after an aerobic session.
When you are struggling to get into your flow, exercise might be the answer.
All round, if you’re in any way concerned about the way that your job and high stress levels are affecting your health, improving your exercise routine is likely to be one important way forward.
Keeping a healthy weight: One of the most common health complaints around the globe is obesity. It should come as no surprise to learn that, according to the International Journal of Health Sciences, the UAE is currently among the top ten most obese countries in the world. It’s a growing problem, and one that doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon.
If you are obese or even just overweight, that can have a significant impact on your business, especially when it comes to leadership. Aside from the physical limitations – less energy, less endurance, less scope for body movement, reduced muscle strength and even impaired respiratory capacity – it has other implications too. Research published in the International Journal of Obesity reported that obesity impacted people’s perceived leadership potential in a negative way.
Balancing work and life: One of the ways you can ward off the potential detriments of an entrepreneurial lifestyle is to have a structured work-life balance. A recent survey by Dick Jones Communications found that exercising on a weekly basis helped people to manage this balance. The reason is that during physical activity we’re able to psychologically detach from work in a way that is difficult even just resting. Having that small respite for exercise could be just what you need to maintain focus throughout your working day.
How do successful CEOs keep themselves healthy?
When it comes to improving your health, it’s worth looking at how some of most successful people in business manage their lifestyles. Here are some of the ways that successful CEOs stay healthy.
They literally run marathons: You’ll rarely come across an entrepreneur who doesn’t have a competitive nature. This attribute is, after all, what drives many successful CEOs towards their goals. The drive to work hard, improve, and win should be strong, and it’s that very characteristic on which you can capitalise.
Take up marathon running and you’ll be in good company. The likes of Robert Iger of Walt Disney, John Legere of T-Mobile, and Steven Reinemund formerly of PepsiCo all take part in endurance and competitive sports. What’s more, a study from the Centre for Financial Research found that S&P 1500 CEOs who ran marathons had a ‘higher firm value’ than those who didn’t. And the evidence suggests that taking part in intensive training and endurance activities really can increase your workflow and productivity.
They stick to regimented routines: There’s nothing worse than taking a haphazard approach to working out. When you’re attempting to balance both work and home commitments, exercise can quickly get pushed to the bottom of your priority list. Taking a regimented approach to exercise may be the answer.
Sticking to the same exercise routine each day means that keeping active becomes as much of a habit as any other routine activity. Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, revealed that his exercise regime consisted of squats, push presses, and weight reps – done every single day. A further study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health recently found a link between regulating your exercise routines and having the motivation to do it – in other words, if you make it part of your day-to-day dealings, you’re more likely to stick with it.
They push their limits: When was the last time you really challenged yourself? It’s not just about everyday fitness: it’s about going further than that. In 2012, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, scaled the highest peaks of Mont Blanc in a bid to raise money for charity, a dangerous and demanding venture which would have pushed most people to their limits. Taking your fitness regime to the next level and tackling a challenge of epic proportions will really help you focus on your health goals.
Taking your fitness regime to the next level and tackling a challenge of epic proportions will really help you focus on your health goals.
Remember, being healthy isn’t just something you do now and then: it’s an entire lifestyle. The evidence I’ve cited here shows that no matter how busy you may be or how much you have on your plate, you can always find the time to keep active. Why? Because doing so is crucial to success in every realm of your life, and will support both your general health and your business.