I’m a runner.
I had some knee issues for a few months that kept me from running as much as I would normally. As much as I hated missing my runs, and I tried to substitute the time with other workouts, I learned a few things about myself during the time of healing.
I was reminded, by not running as much, how valuable to me the exercise is for me personally.
I have always encouraged leaders to have a regular exercise routine. I think it’s a necessary discipline for a healthy leader. If you aren’t currently an active exerciser, I have even more practical, first hand experience to encourage you to begin.
Here are 7 reasons I need to exercise:
Forced down time – I discovered that my running time — or when I exercise — is one of the few times each day where I am not answering emails, taking phone calls, or doing something that requires mental power. Exercise forces me to be still — or — well, you know what I mean. My mind is cleared to pray more — to think more.
Physical health – I am better able to maintain my weight when I am running. I feel better. I sleep better. My blood pressure tests lower. The doctor’s office loves taking my vitals when I am in a regular exercise routine. (Due to a heavier than normal travel schedule I am actually up a few pounds — just to be transparent, but thankfully it’s a few pounds not 15 or 20.)
Mental stimulation – My best ideas come while I am running. I suppose because my body is energized and I’m free from other distractions, I’m so creative while I’m running. My biggest obstacle is figuring out how to record or remember them when I stop running. (I’ve even started to walk for a minute just to record the thought quickly.) Some of my deepest, most intimate times with God come when I’m on a long run. God seems to work in my mind during those times — probably because I’ve given Him better access to my mind.
Longevity – Long days are nothing for me when I am in a healthy running discipline. It seems counter-intuitive, but I have more energy in the day — not less — when I’m exercising regularly.
Maximum effectiveness – Exercise — while it seems to take time out of my day — actually ends up being the most effective use of my time. It increases my productivity and gives me a better overall attitude towards my work (and life). It’s powerful enough — I’ve learned from experience — that on my busiest days I try to break away and exercise in the middle of the day. The fastest way for me to get out of a productivity slump is to step away from the “work” and go for a short (or long) run.
Eat with less worry – I enjoy food. A lot. People will often make a comment I must not enjoy food as much as they do because I seem to maintain my weight. The reality is they’ve never seen me eat. I don’t think you can totally ignore your diet regardless of how much you exercise. I try to be healthier in most of my choices, and I do discipline what I eat (wish I was better at how much), but I pretty much eat what I want. I’m certainly never hungry long. Running — or exercise — affords me less guilt in my diet and the occasional splurges I enjoy.
Stress reduction – I find if I’m especially stressed a good sweat gives me a calmer perspective. It’s an excellent way to decompress. It was crazy how much not running — before I found exercise which could substitute — added to me being more tense. My family noticed it. I’m certain the people who work with me did also. I know I did. I’m a nicer person to be around when I’m running regularly. It took me a while to associate the cause of additional stress on the lack of exercise, but the return to healthy routines made it clear.
I’m back to running, thankfully. In fact, I just completed a 10K with my fastest time in several years. I’m usually training for something — even if I never run another race — because it keeps me disciplined in a routine. And, I know the value. It’s been proven to me.
Do you have a regular routine of exercise? It doesn’t have to be running, but it should be something. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before you start something extreme, but I’ve never had a doctor who didn’t value some form of exercise.
If you are not regularly exercising — especially if you’re a leader — answer this question:
Considering the stress in your life, and how productive you hope to be with your life, could beginning the discipline of exercise be one of the missing ingredients?
Let me be a voice of encouragement to you. Find the exercise routine which works best for you, discipline yourself for 30-40 days, then enjoy the lifetime of benefits.