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David FullerMy brother Rob – a 50-something entrepreneur living in Ireland – annoyed me the other day when he told me he’s on track to be the same weight and almost as strong as he was when he was in his 20s.

Rob and I have had ongoing competitions since the day Rob was born, which was a year and two days after I was.

I would like to say I was stronger and slimmer then and I will be stronger and slimmer than Rob this summer if he comes back to Canada for a visit.

But that might be a pipe dream.

Unfortunately for most leaders who are in their 50s, their physical strength and their weight have gone in opposite directions, with strength going down. Look at most people in business in their 50s and you’ll have to look beyond the belly fat, myself included.

The truth is that our jobs cause much of that belly enlargement. It’s not just the lack of movement that has been exacerbated by video meetings or paperwork. It’s the fact that stress causes belly fat! A Yale University study came to the same conclusion.

There’s no doubt that business leaders deal with stress daily. If you didn’t have some significant stress in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and the pandemic, you were probably living on another planet.

However, there’s one great way to reduce your stress (besides having a business that works for you): exercise. Numerous studies have shown that regular daily exercise can reduce stress, improve mental health and increase immunity.

So what kind of benefit might you expect from exercising?

While everyone is different, I know that half an hour of exercise a day can mean the difference between me feeling energized and productive, or fatigued and sluggish. Perhaps it’s the extra blood flowing to my brain but I also notice that my thoughts are clearer on days when I exercise than on days when I don’t.

My family, staff and partners at Pivotleader can probably all testify that they notice a perceivable drop in my likeability if I haven’t been getting out and doing something.

Finally, while it’s not noticeable except when I cut back on my exercising routines, I tend to have to loosen my belt buckle when I’m not active.

So if exercise is so great for us, why don’t we all do it regularly?

The problem is that exercising takes effort and can be hard. But being grumpy, overweight and sluggish is also hard. Walking around with an extra 20 pounds is difficult – and so is looking at ourselves in the mirror.

Going for a walk in the middle of the day might seem hard, but so is sitting at your desk for eight hours without a walk.

We can all find reasons why we can’t go to the gym, get on our bikes or go for a walk. It would be easy for me to let my little brother come over from Ireland and show me how strong and slim he is, knowing that he will go home a couple weeks later.

Excuses abound for being lazy. However, getting out of the chair, standing during a video meeting and building regular time for movement during our days will not only benefit those around us, it will make us feel better about ourselves.

And it will enable us to take our performance to a much higher level.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Exercising your fingers by emailing [email protected]. For interview requests, click here.

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