As company leaders, you spend a significant portion of your day sitting—at your desk, on the phone, in meetings, in cars, even on planes. It’s important to remember to get up out of those seats and move around. Equally as important as the physical benefits, being active keeps the brain sharp and reduces stress.
Here are 10 ways business leaders are powering up to power down.
1. Walking. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama are just some of the people who have made “walking meetings” famous. But some CEOs, like Terry Neal, CEO of Toledo, Ohio-based Impact Products, prefer to walk alone to reflect and power down after a busy day. “I try not to think about work or anything that needs my attention at the moment,” Neal says.
2. Working with their hands. Jim Merryman, President and COO of Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc., says that keeping his hands busy puts his mind in relax mode. “Since I have an engineering background, the physical exercise that keeps my mind sharp is fabricating things for myself and others. It can be as simple as a flower pot holder or as complex as a floating ramp for a boat dock or even a car part,” he says. “My full-time job requires such mental focus that it’s great to have physical, fun things to contrast that.”
3. Feeding the need for speed. Merryman also loves racing cars. “The G forces on the body keeps me in shape and make my adrenaline go up and down so many times it burns calories.”
4. Golf/tennis. Ninety percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf. Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford, is a competitive tennis and golf player. These sports are just as much, if not more, for the business benefits, as they are for the exercise. As in Mulally’s case, they can also foster a CEO’s competitive spirit.
5. Outdoor/Nature Sports. Tyler Mobius, CEO of Adconion, says after a day at the office what he wants most is to get outdoors. He paddle surfs, runs trails, mountain bikes and rock climbs, according to Forbes. His secret to finding time for himself? “Getting less sleep.”
6. Making it a competition. Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles, bet his employees that they couldn’t walk/run farther than him in a single day, and offered a prize to anyone who could. The competitive environment motivated him to walk even more, according to Forbes.
7. Change it up to keep the routine fresh. Richard Branson is an exercise addict, according to Benzinga.com. He swims, does yoga, rock climbs, runs and weight lifts. He calls exercise the cure for lack of energy.
8. Rise early and stick to your morning ritual. It’s pretty common knowledge, as CEO.com suggests, that successful CEOs all wake up “at the crack of dawn.”. Also well-known is that successful people use those early morning hours, when others are asleep and before the day’s challenges develop, to get their workouts in. Jordan Zimmerman, founder of Zimmerman Advertising, told Inc. that he rises at 3:30 a.m. and rides his bike 25 miles before breakfast.
9. Meditation. Vikas Khemani, CEO of Edelweiss Capital in India, is just one of many CEOs that meditate. Rupert Murdoch and Oprah Winfrey also are big fans of the technique, which lowers both stress levels and blood pressure.
10. Work around the yard. In addition to the usual exercise routines, Elizabeth Curtis, CEO of Sharp Community Medical Group in San Diego, rides horses, chops wood and works in her garden. With a busy schedule that is all over the lot, Curtis is able to accomplish necessary tasks while also exercising her body and her mind.
While exercising is the key to being healthy, however, remember not to overdo it. Raj Jain, the CEO of Bharti-Walmart in India had to quit his long-time running routine because his knees gave out. Meanwhile, that same week, his running partner died of a heart attack because he overexerted himself, Jain told The India Times. Good health is important, but moderation is key.