What you don’t know about me is that in addition to being a self-employed Solopreneur strategy and marketing consultant, I became a dedicated fitness enthusiast on my 21st birthday. On that day I realized that the clock was ticking and it would make sense to do whatever possible to preserve and protect my good health and strength.
On my 21st birthday, I ran one mile. I made myself drink eight glasses of water (a substance that I loathed) and promised myself that I would drink at least that amount every day. I began to eat vegetables other than corn, spinach, or peas. Soon thereafter I became a vegetarian and followed the regimen for about 15 years, reintroducing meat to my diet only after peer-reviewed studies showed that red meat is a beneficial component of our diets, providing the best source of protein and facilitating the absorption of minerals.
I began to feel more healthy and strong. My energy level noticeably increased. My concentration and focus improved. Gradually, I became more self-aware and self-confident.
There are now thousands of studies that focus on wellness, extolling the benefits of regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep and supportive personal relationships. Over the past 20 years or so, psychologists and other social scientists have learned that regular exercise does much more than improve our physical beings. Exercise impacts the way we think. Statistically significant cognitive benefits of regular exercise include:
- Improved concentration
- Enhanced creativity
- Faster learning
- Sharper memory
- Greater mental stamina
- Lower stress
Regular exercise (defined here as three or four 45-minute gym workouts, one mile swims, or two-mile runs each week) has also been shown to boost self-confidence and cause our central nervous systems to produce endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that are natural mood elevators. Exercise helps us to think more effectively, work more efficiently and feel happier, more confident and less stressed.
Surprisingly, the time of day that we exercise matters and according to researchers, daytime is best. A 2008 study revealed that exercising during work hours (or before the work day) improves the ability to manage time; increases one’s productivity; improves our interactions with colleagues; and leaves us still feeling good as we head home at the end of the day.
That said, let’s add self-discipline to the list of exercise benefits. Early morning exercisers know that it takes steely determination to pull oneself out of bed and head out to the gym on a dark and freezing winter morning, but the payoff is huge. Your workout will be completed before the events of the day have a chance to derail your schedule and you’ll come to love the energy blast that early morning exercise gives you. What a feeling of accomplishment you’ll have as you exit your fitness center just after 8:00 AM, showered and dressed and ready to take on the day! I do exactly that four mornings each week (and at 9:00 AM on Saturdays).
Regular exercise benefits everyone and may be especially rewarding for Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs. For us, achieving and maintaining mental and physical stamina are a must. Researchers offer a few suggestions that will support those of you who are about to introduce fitness into your lives:
- Find a physical activity that you like, because you will not continue otherwise.
- Get a trainer and/or take fitness classes. Commit to learning how to work out in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the risk of injury.
- Get social. Talk to people and make friends at your gym.
- Join a team if you like team sports. You will be compelled to practice (exercise) and play (more exercise).
I offer you two more suggestions, based on many years of gym membership:
- Join a gym that is convenient to your home or office, to make it easy for you to get there.
- Early morning is probably the most convenient time to exercise. Develop your early morning exercise routine in spring time, when mornings are brighter and waking up will be easier.
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is an external consultant who provides strategy and marketing solutions to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Kim is the founder and principal of Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Visit polishedprofessionalsboston.com for more information.