This post is written by Cameron West. Cameron has a background in Exercise Science and is the founder of Pro Training Programs.
Part of the reason that I think the entrepreneurial lifestyle is so attractive, is the work life balance. Which is funny because work life balance seems to be sacrificed quickly during the ‘startup’ phase…. There is no doubt that starting a business is not the romantic or sexy concept that a lot of people make it out to be. Starting a business involves long hours of hard work. And this is where we see work life balance disappear.
Even if your work life balance is suffering because of the grind starting your business, I wanted to write this blog to recommend keeping to at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 times per week.
Before I get into the benefits of regular exercise, I wanted to give you a little bit of background about me (because I am very cynical when I read these types of blogs having never met a person who didn’t have an opinion on exercise and training). I studied Exercise and Sport Science at The University of Sydney (which translates roughly into elite athletic trainer). And while I didn’t end up working with a professional sport team directly, my start up, Pro Training Programs, means I work closely with the best sport coaches and trainers in Australia.
There is a large body of laboratory and population based studies documenting the many health and fitness benefits associated with physical activity and endurance exercise training, such as improved physiologic, metabolic and psychologic health.
Regular exercise clearly prevent occurrences of cardiac events; reduce the incidence of stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. The data indicates that individual who changes from sedentary lifestyle to being physically active, or who changes from being physically unfit to being physically fit, experience lower rates of disease and premature mortality compared to those who continue to remain sedentary or unfit. If that by itself isn’t enough to compel you to exercise, then remember that your business will almost certainly struggle if you aren’t around to work on it!
For most present day entrepreneurs, ‘hard work’ does not mean physically exhausting. Our hard work involves sitting at a desk or in a boardroom, where our output is not limited by our physical capacity. And this is why we can get away with long hours and no rest breaks. But should we?
In a study looking at the number of rest breaks, combined with low level exercise and stretching, the results showed that supplementary breaks increased productivity so that despite the decreased work time, work output was maintained.
Frequent breaks reduce the musculoskeletal discomfort and stress associated with long periods of continuous computer-mediated work.
For best effect, schedule a 5 minute rest break every hour. 5 minute breaks are preferred to more frequent breaks because if rest breaks are more frequent they will compromise ‘adaption to work’ (read: stop you getting on a roll).
The moral of the story is this: work less, increase your productivity and feel better. Now what entrepreneur doesn’t love that?
The minimum recommendation that I give is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (between 50-75% of your maximum intensity) at least 3 times per week. This recommendation comes from the American College of Sports Medicine for “improved health and quality of life”.
Regular (hourly) breaks from computer work of 5 minutes or more, coupled with low to moderate intensity exercise (walking will do) is associated with increased productivity and well being. Try setting a reminder on your computer every hour to stand up, walk around and stretch out your muscles.