No Pain No Pizza: The Business Benefits of Exercise

Working out has lots of benefits. Some people do it to have a clear mind, some people do it for toned arms, some people do it so they won’t feel guilty when they indulge in cake (or pizza!). But did you know there are a few key benefits of working out that help your career? Turns out, working out is linked to making more money. I’ve listed 4 important reasons how working out will help your career, and get you more (pizza) dough.

Reason #1: Exercise is a mood booster.

Any true Legally Blonde fan knows the Elle Woods line by heart: “exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands.” This natural mood enhancer helps your job, because unless you work in a vacuum you have to talk to people during the day. People like working with positive people. People who exercise regularly are more productive and patient. In a study conducted at Leeds Metropolitan University, participants reported how they felt on days when they exercised or did not exercise. On days that they exercised, they reported being more productive and having more positive interactions with co-workers.

Exercise allows your mind and body to reconnect. It allows you to be more attuned to your body, and will energize your mind. Exercise is correlated with a more positive self image--and not just because of the external effects like getting toned. It can improve how you deal with stressors, and reduce effects of long term depression. A study by the International Journal of Sport Psychology found that regular physical activity was a highly effective way of building self-confidence for people who stuck to a consistent workout routine for six months. It’s no secret that confidence helps you excel in business.

Reason #2: Exercise is a productivity enhancer.

Tom Corley, a financial planner and accountant, interviewed over 233 highly successful people about their everyday habits to see if there were any trends to learn from. Of this sample that consisted mostly of self-made millionaires, Corley found that 76% of them exercised for at least 30 minutes every day. Richard Branson said that he doesn’t think he’d be as successful as he has been if he didn’t get regular exercise. Among successful people, working out is a common habit. Barack Obama works out for 45 minutes, 6 days a week. Tech mogul and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban does an hour of cardio a day. Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour plays early morning tennis every day. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wakes up at 5am most days to work out. Kat Cole, president of FOCUS Brands group (parent company of Carvel, Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon), wakes up as early as 5:30am for yoga, even in a hotel room when she’s traveling. Even Warren Buffet, who is known for loving fast food and Coca Cola, also views exercise as an integral part of his routine.

An article by the Harvard Business Review mentions that beneficial effects of exercise include: improved concentration, prolonged mental stamina, better memory, faster learning, lower stress, and enhanced creativity. People who exercise regularly have better time management skills in the workplace as well. If working out makes you learn faster, remember better, and manage your time efficiently, isn’t it pretty obvious how this helps you do your job better?

Reason #3: Exercise helps your brain work in more creative ways.

Aristotle, Charles Darwin, and Ludwig Van Beethoven all took advantage of exercise. Their breakthroughs made their marks on society forever. When you are in motion, you are more likely to have inspiration strike, or look at a problem through a new lens.

A 2014 Stanford research report shows that a person’s creative output increases by about 60% while they are walking. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” If you are able to walk in nature, even better! A walk through nature gets your creative juices flowing even more. This is something Bill Gates does regularly so that he can think clearly and problem solve in better ways.

Reason # 4: Exercise makes you look and feel more confident.

Regular exercise improves your body image. You may build muscle and lose fat from working out more, but even if you don’t, simply the act of exercising makes you feel more confident. I feel like a total badass after a tough workout! That confidence is communicated in any social setting.

Aside from confidence built from the act of working out, working out will probably give you more muscle tone, which improves your posture. I like to do a reverse fly with light free weights for my posture. The day before a big meeting or presentation, I will do this exercise to tone my back. When these muscles are toned, you are much less likely to slouch. Slouching shows the world that you are unconfident. If you’re interested, watch some youtube videos on how to tone your back, so that you can naturally stand up straight.

Why put so much effort into good posture? Amy Cuddy, a Harvard professor, gave a TED talk about body language. She spoke about the continuous feedback loop between your body and brain. When you are happy, you smile; when you feel powerful, you take up more space. But the reverse is true--when you smile, you become happier; when you take up more space, you feel more powerful. She coined the phrase “power posing.” When you stand in an expansive pose for a short period of time, your body produces more testosterone and less cortisol. So you feel more dominant and less stressed.

If the act of working out allows you to have better posture and take up more space, won’t that make you feel more confident? If you are building confidence simply by working out, and also feeling powerful by standing tall, isn’t that like a confidence boosting double whammy?

You will be exuding confidence from the inside and the outside. The feedback mechanism then continues, because people treat you differently. The positive feedback then makes you more confident.

Committing to regular exercise doesn’t mean signing up for a Spartan Race or Triathlete. All you have to do is move a few times a week! Your body, mind, and maybe even your bank account will thank you!