Are you fit for the stresses and challenges of the corporate workplace?

How to look after your health and deal with the stresses at work.

Take another look at the title. Think about it for a few minutes, and consider whether you could honestly answer ‘yes’.

In my experience, there are too many people in business who are not physically fit, and I think this is hindering our chances of having successful careers. Sadly, there are still a number of hurdles that we have to vault over just to be considered a worthy contender for a job, but many of us go into that race lacking the physical and mental fitness that we require. Building a career is a physically and mentally demanding undertaking; we should view in the same way as a major sporting event and train for it.

Leading by example

A lot of executives use sport as a way of keeping their minds and bodies fit and healthy and ready for optimum performance in the office or board room. Carly Fiorina (ex-HP) spends an hour on the elliptical machine every morning, Condoleezza Rice plays golf, and Harriet Green (IBM) sees a personal trainer four times a week and lifts kettle-bells as part of her sessions. She also practices yoga, and says this about prioritising time for exercise and wellbeing: ‘If you can’t do something for yourself for an hour a day, you have become a slave.’ Given there is still gender inequality in senior positions, a sports background could serve female executives very well. Results of a study released in October 2014 by the EY Women Athletes Business Network and espnW revealed that the majority of female executives surveyed said a sports background can help accelerate a woman’s leadership and career potential, and has a positive influence on hiring decisions.

Training for success

It seems that the attributes to becoming successful in sport are easily transferable to the boardroom or corporate environment. Of the women in the EY survey, 53% said they still played sport as they moved into their working lives, and most still used sport to help them unwind. 37% said they felt it helped them to concentrate and focus on their work (swimming and running being the most popular activities). Sport and exercise provides the opportunity to hone key skills that translate easily into business, and is also a great way to relax and de-stress. I encourage you to train yourself in the same way a professional athlete would to ensure that you are fit and sharp, and fully prepared to perform at the peak of your abilities.

Exercise to manage your stress

Stress is one of the biggest killers in today’s society. Left unchecked it can lead to physical and mental breakdown, illness, the disintegration of families and relationships, the loss of jobs and livelihood, and in some cases loss of life. At best, it makes life difficult, more challenging and less enjoyable. Exercise can help to improve your state of mind, help you sleep better and therefore think more clearly; it can help you think and communicate rationally and perhaps feel more relaxed and in control of other areas of your life. Exercise has been proven to decrease the production of stress-related hormones like cortisol, and increase the production of other hormones such as serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine, which together can contribute to making you feel more positive, happier and uplifted. There’s also something very rewarding about making a plan of action, and then getting ready and going out and doing it, whether it’s going for a run, completing an exercise session or just going for a walk. Just making a plan and sticking to it can be really gratifying. It can also help to take your mind off some of the negative emotions you might be experiencing, or give you some time out of the home or office.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Why not take some time today to consider what you’re doing to ensure you’re fit for the workplace?

Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and Rise and Shine: Recover from Burnout and get back to your best and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit for more information or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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