4 min read

Exercise: YES, I Should!

Dec 6, 2013 1:57:00 AM

While on the treadmill the other morning, I was flipping channels and ran across an infomercial for an exercise program called the Brazilian Butt Lift. Not surprising given the run up to New Year’s Day and the typical hype and sometimes hysteria surrounding resolutions. As I slugged along on my fast paced walk at a 12% incline, it was fascinating to watch the program with all the before and after stories. The promised results were amazing! I actually began to wonder if my daily morning 30 minute walk was as strenuous as it needs to be.

But then sanity grabbed me. I remembered that me looking good in a pair of yoga pants isn’t exactly on my “to do” list. And fortunately Mrs. Leman hasn’t added this request of me to her Christmas wish list either. But it did start me thinking about being a “Corporate Athlete”. As you can guess, there’s a fundamental problem with most people…they don’t have a regular exercise routine.

In the book I mentioned a few weeks ago, The Power of Full Engagement, Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, the authors share these observations:

“Given the number of benefits that we derive even from moderate exercise, it seems extraordinary that the vast majority of Americans do almost none. The explanation is surprisingly simple. Building strength and endurance requires pushing past our comfort zones and experiencing discomfort. It takes time before the obvious benefits kick in, and most of us quit before that ever occurs.”

That certainly resonates with me and probably explains, in some measure, the astonishingly diverse and seemingly endless fitness industry. Think about how many exercise programs or technologies you can name. There’s an enormous industry coming up with new ways to exercise. The Brazilian Butt Lift is one of the latest. How many can you name?

So, I stopped by Jerry Scott’s office to get his thoughts on the best exercise program. He’s my resident personal mastery expert. Jerry occasionally teaches a simple, no nonsense approach to personal health management in Leadership South Bend/Mishawaka and other venues. He laughed. Seems they all work. The problem isn’t the type of exercise, it’s human nature.

According to Jerry, the fundamental problem is that most people have not incorporated exercise into the fabric of their lives. He gave an extreme example. Years ago he had a group of employees complaining about the body odor of a coworker. He called the employee in to talk thinking maybe it was a medical problem. Turns out the employee was working two jobs and simply stated that he didn’t have time to take a shower every day but rather every third or fourth day. To him bathing was discretionary while to everyone else it’s automatic and non-discretionary. To this day he thinks of that employee every time he hears someone say they don’t have time to exercise.

Does anyone really have to be convinced that they need to regularly exercise? It obviously has some bearing on weight control but as Jerry says, that issue is 75% food choices related and maybe 25% activity and exercise. Exercise is essential for heart and lung health. Exercise is the key behind the functioning of the lymphatic system, which filters toxins from our body. Exercise is essential for long-term bone, muscle and connective tissue health and resilience. And then there’s work. Loehr and Schwartz share that in a study of eighty executives over a nine-month period; those who worked out regularly improved their fitness by 22% and demonstrated a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions as compared with non-exercisers.

Most get that YES, I should! The guidelines are everywhere. We need a minimum of 20-30 minutes of exercise three times per week. Five to six times per week with a mixture of cardio and strength training is ideal. So I went back to Jerry.

According to him, the deal is finding a way to work it into your life. Years ago he worked out at lunch time. When that was no longer feasible, he switched to after work. When the demands of life made that too hit or miss he switched to mornings before work. He exercises at least 340 days per year and has for nearly twenty years. The point is to find what works for you and to not make excuses.

  • If you don’t regularly exercise one key can be to start small. Some people can launch massive boot camp style programs or jump right into Cross Fit, but that’s how most people fail.
  • Most experts like Tony Robbins agree that new habits are anchored in 12 weeks. It would be better to start with 10-15 minutes a day and to do that for 3 months.
  • Then, if you feel like it, add another 10 minutes for the next 3 months. My guess is that within a year you’ll be up to 30 minutes a day and you’ll feel abnormal if you don’t exercise on any given day.

What’s The Risk?
The risk is not living up to your full potential. Without exercise, you won’t have the robust health and energy that will produce great benefits over the next 40 years of your life. I often write about people and relationships in this blog. I’m passionate about this topic because you can’t accomplish most of the things you want in life if you don’t have the necessary energy.

As Jerry told me, “To feel wrong and disappointed if you miss your workout is the holy grail of fitness and personal life mastery in this area!” That made me feel good because I’ve gotten to that point. My “athletically stout” physique won’t win me any fitness awards, but my blood pressure and cholesterol are where they should be and I can play pick-up basketball a few days a week with guys a decade younger than me. I’ll just avoid the yoga pants. You’re welcome!

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Topics: Executive
Tim Leman

Written by Tim Leman

Tim is Chairman and CEO at Gibson. He joined Gibson in 2005 as the Director of the Employee Benefits Practice and became a principal in 2007. He was named President in 2009, CEO in 2011, and elected Chairman of the Board in 2014.

With Tim’s leadership, Gibson has been selected as a Best Places to Work in Indiana, named to Principal’s 10 Best list for employee financial security, maintained its status as a Reagan & Associates Best Practices Agency, recognized as one of 20 Indiana Companies To Watch, and named to the Inc. 5000 list. Read Tim's Full Bio