Does physical fitness have any bearing on leadership abilities?
The phrase “fit to lead” dates back to the early 1800’s. A leader needed to be spiritually, mentally and physically fit enough to lead a community.
The same could be said today especially physically. Leadership is a taxing position that requires a certain amount of endurance, confidence and decisiveness, all of which have a direct link to the physical state of the body. True to the adage mens sana in corpora sano (“healthy mind in a healthy body”), it is essential to maintain a high level of fitness to keep motivated and disciplined.
It is important as leaders to be actively tuned into the rhythms of our body and the fluctuations of energy we might have throughout each day. Too many leaders put so much energy into leading and achieving that they forget about how important it is to maintain fitness.
Why? Here are 5 reasons physical fitness is vital to leadership:
- The law of mimicry. Studies have shown that regular team members unconsciously mimic the behavior patterns of their leader. If a leader is undisciplined or not punctual, their subordinates tend to follow suit. In the same way, a leader who does not make caring for her body and health a priority will have team members who will mirror this as well.
- Mental wellness. Exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress because it boosts your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters called endorphins. Also, by solely focusing on your body’s motions for a period of time, you focus less on the day’s stresses, at least for a while. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, exercise also reduces symptoms associated with anxiety and depression while improving sleeping patterns.
- Creativity. Being physically fit gives a leader the ability and brain space to use creative thinking to its utmost. Studies suggest that even moderate levels of exercise increase cognitive abilities and will help you make better decisions and design creative business strategies.
- Productivity. Just like a car that is top condition and filled with gas can go on long trips without incident, so a body that is physically fit can produce all that it is required to produce.
- Confidence. Self-confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows. Regular exercise boosts self-confidence through endorphins.
A great leader pays attention to health. John F. Kennedy said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”