You’ve heard of dressing for success, but do you know that succeeding at work depends a great deal upon your level of health and fitness? According to experts, looking the part of a go-getter helps only to a certain point. The real key to career achievement is the mind-body balance that exercise and a healthy lifestyle bring about – especially for those who work at a desk.
Initially, it may not be clear why an office worker needs to be as fit as someone whose job involves intense, sustained physical activity. However, performance psychologist Jim Loehr has a good explanation in his book, The Power of Full Engagement.
According to Loehr, “The importance of physical energy seems obvious for athletes, construction workers, and farmers. Because the rest of us are evaluated more by what we do with our minds than with our bodies, we tend to discount the role that physical energy plays in performance. In most jobs, the physical body has been completely cut off from the performance equation.
“In reality, physical energy is the most fundamental source of fuel, even if our work is almost completely sedentary. It not only lies at the heart of alertness and vitality but also affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, think creatively, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on.”
Also on board with this observation is Keld Jensen, international authority on corporate communications and negotiations. Jensen explored the connection between health and fitness and performance on the job in a recent article on forbes.com.
Jensen calls the connection BQ, or body intelligence, which reflects what you know about your body, how you feel about it and take care of it. BQ is the third element of what he claims are the three aspects of achieving success that are even more important than your IQ – with the other two being EQ (emotional intelligence – your ability to connect with others) and MQ (moral intelligence – your trustworthiness and reliability).
As Jensen wrote, “Your body is constantly telling you things; are you listening to the signals or ignoring them? Are you eating energy-giving or energy-draining foods on a daily basis? Are you getting enough rest? Do you exercise and take care of your body? It may seem like these matters are unrelated to business performance, but your body intelligence absolutely affects your work because it largely determines your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence, state of mind, and energy level.”
Jensen’s advice is as follows: “At least once a day, listen to the messages your body is sending you about your health. Actively monitor these signals instead of going on autopilot. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest are all key aspects of having a high BQ. Monitoring your weight, practicing moderation with alcohol, and making sure you have down time can dramatically benefit the functioning of your brain and the way you perform at work.”
What being fit can do for your performance – the proof is in the numbers:
- A Purdue University study of 80 executives found that those who exercised improved their ability to make complex decisions by 70 percent, as compared with non-exercisers.
- NASA found that participants in their corporate exercise program experienced improved stamina, work performance, enhanced concentration and decision-making powers. Among them, 40 percent reported sounder sleep, 60 percent were successful at weight loss, 50 percent said they paid more attention to their diets, and many reported quitting or cutting down on smoking.
- The Canada Life Assurance Company reported that 47 percent of participants in their fitness program were more alert, had better rapport with co-workers and supervisors, and enjoyed work more than those who did not participate. Of the participants, 63 percent indicated that they were more relaxed, more patient, and less tired during the workday.
So now when you think of dressing for success, include workout gear in your wardrobe – and wear it in good health at your nearby Future Fitness Center!