Can Exercise Make You Smarter and Enhance Job Performance?

Like most CEOs, COOs, senior-level executives, and mid-career professionals, when it comes to business, you are often seeking ways to strengthen your entrepreneurial outlook, bold-thinking capacity, and strategic agility. Blending 30 minutes of mindful health and wellness activities into your schedule may improve your work performance, productivity —and executive resume to boot.

We all should know by now that exercise can reduce your risk of health issues and diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and most importantly, your risk of heart disease.

But what if I told you that exercise can make you smarter, enhance your cognitive skills, help you improve your decision-making abilities, stimulate innovation, and increase your overall productivity—not only in yourself but others as well? To put it in a nutshell, 30 minutes of exercise can make you more money.

Let me answer a few questions that you may already have on your mind.

  1. Your wife did not pay me to write this article.
  2. Golf does not count.
  3. I am not trying to get you to do yoga.
  4. You will not have to drink any wheatgrass (look it up).

First, let’s go to the experts; citing an article by Claire Shipman written for ABC News, and an article from Men’s Health magazine, Perdue University conducted a physical exercise study with 30 women. The results showed that not only did the women increase their fitness level by 17 percent, they also increased their ability to process information and make sound decisions by 12 to 68 percent.

In a separate study conducted at the University of Illinois by Charles Hillman, Ph.D., 20 men and women jogged on a treadmill for 30 minutes, on two separate occasions. Dr. Hillman used a helmet fitted with electrodes that allowed him to monitor their brain activity before, during, and after they exercised.

Hillman’s study showed that a single 30-minute period of steady, focused exercise had two major effects on the brain; first, subjects were able to process information faster. Second, Hillman found that exercise helped them concentrate better and recall information more quickly.

Here’s how this relates in the real world: A single 30-minute exercise session is able to improve calculated decision making, increase memory, and intensify your attention span. Imagine what a 30-minute session three to four times a week could do for your energy level around driving cultural changes, transforming teams, or translating strategies into executable roadmaps.

According to Men’s Health magazine, Ted Kennedy, president of CEO Challenge also understands the link between fitness and on-the-job performance. His company has a program for CEOs competing in Ironman triathlons; we are talking about a 2.4-mile swim, a 26.2-mile run, and a 112-mile bike ride.

The trophy: “World’s Fittest CEO.” According to Ted Kennedy, the majority of these executives believe their training improves all aspects of their lives—from the family dining room to the corporate boardroom.

“Most of the men who compete in this event say that without aerobic exercise, they wouldn’t be CEOs,” he says.

As you are looking to fulfill a crucial COO, CIO, CTO, or CEO role in your organization, and you are scanning through the professionally written executive resume of each potential senior-level candidate—once all of the executive search requirements are met, you may want to take a second look at the marathon runner … he or she may just increase your bottom line.

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