Entrepreneurship is a way of life that demands unwavering focus, motivation and psychological and emotional stability. Every entrepreneur has to be equipped with psychophysical abilities in order to combat the day-to-day stress that this field produces. Achieving the balance between the private and the business sphere of one’s life, and maintaining health and good relations presents a challenge to each and every entrepreneur. Never forget, that the quality of relationships dictates the quality of life.
Excessive stress, brought upon by the job is only dealt with accordingly when the body is in good physical condition; ergo, when a person exercises regularly. This statement is based on the fact that entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with excellent physical fitness, which is the only way to achieve top-notch stress resilience.
Stress and physical health in business
A combination of physical inactivity and a stress-driven lifestyle bears the risk of developing diseases and inflammations. Most commonly, excessive stress manifests itself in the form of back, neck or shoulder pain and headaches. A sedentary job causes muscular disparities and inferior quality of the connective tissue, which is to say that the body is more susceptible to injuries and joint pain.
An aggravated posture is yet another characteristic of high-stress levels. Listed consequences of the stress-driven lifestyle lead to diminished labour productivity, scientifically proven underperformance in business, and psychological pathologies, such as: chronic dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression.
I will not assert that physical activity is the sole solution for all the above-mentioned pathologies; however, from my own experience and countless successful practices with clients, I can claim that quality exercise programs, on the account of their strong influence on the hormonal and immune system, represent the single best weapon for combating stress.
The sphere of an entrepreneur may be, to some extent, equated with the sphere of a top-class athlete. Both cases demand investing countless hours of systematic work, which is eventually realized by accomplishing objectives set.
Both in top-class sports and top-class entrepreneurship one must surround oneself with a trustworthy team, which can be relied upon in crucial situations. In both fields, there are plenty of physical and psychological stressors that need to be dealt with on a daily basis in order to achieve long-term success. In both top-class sports and top-class entrepreneurship, professionalism, excellence and consistency are demanded.
“What is the key to success in the field of top-class entrepreneurship and top-class sports? Both fields require optimal physical and psychological conditioning.”
Besides training their sport (their business), top-class athletes spend hours upon hours eliminating their weaknesses, receiving treatment and improving in other sporting activities, all of which brings them a step closer to completing their success-puzzle.
The exact same principles should apply in the elite world of entrepreneurship, owing to the fact that success in business is fundamentally no different from a sports competition – the objective is to win.
Sports and business are alike
The key similarity between sports and business is the long-term strategy; namely, the business match is a marathon, a long-distance race, a complex puzzle, which is co-build by one’s family, friends and countless other relations, with the person’s strength and focus being the equilibrium of the analogy.
Now, while the athlete’s lifestyle is considered to be much simpler and filled with plenty of recovery time, the life of an entrepreneur is far more complex and requires a well-thought-out strategy of exercise, diet and regeneration. Strong foundation is the basis for the structure that enables a prosperous future. Part of the groundwork that leads to a successful entrepreneur is the physical functionality of the body.
As we have established, entrepreneurship has quite a lot of parallels with elite sports, and a branch of that metaphorical tree is reserved for risks and dangers. Survival of the fittest applies perfectly to both fields, in sports through countless competitive selections and in entrepreneurship through securing the largest piece of the market share.
Constant psychophysical stress and inescapable sedentary lifestyle are undoubtedly the biggest risks entrepreneurs encounter daily.
A sedentary lifestyle
Sedentary lifestyle is the leading cause for chronic diseases, such as: obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes; and simultaneously, it increases the risk of heart attacks (Doku et al., 2019). Above mentioned diseases are the cause of 70 % of deaths (Sardarinia et al., 2016) in the modern world, with the numbers continuing to rise in recent years.
The lifestyle of an entrepreneur also increases the risk of overuse injuries, such as: wrist or finger degeneration, on the account of continuous working with computers (Gallagher and Heberger, 2013). With entrepreneurs, high incidence of back pain, such as: chronic neck or lower-back pain is noticeable. Therefore, it is not a surprise that annually, the forefront grounds for sick leave are lower-back pain, which makes it the most expensive health problem of companies.
Psychological stress, intermingled with improper physical shape reflects upon a person very destructively and bolsters accompanying chronic interference, such as: hormonal irregularities, anxiety, depression and lack of motivation.
“It is not unusual that in today’s world of elite entrepreneurship a fit and healthy body poses the standard, the competitive edge and the foundation for long-term well-being and success.”
What are in turn the benefits of being physically active through exercising and do they outweigh the »lost time«, that a businessperson could devote towards developing their company? Most definitely they do and in the following paragraphs you can see why.
Preventing chronic diseases and thus reducing the amount of sick days
Scientific literature points out that the best way of preventing the onset of aforementioned chronic diseases is a holistic change of persons lifestyle, which includes increase in the level of physical activity in the form of regular strength and mobility exercises (Whelton, et al., 2002). What does this mean in practice? Reduced days of sick leave and thus reduced costs of dealing with the health conditions are results of less chronic diseases.
Improving hormonal balance
Regular exercise, especially strength exercise, significantly contributes to better hormonal balance. With regular physical activity the anabolic-catabolic balance in the body is reset, inclined towards the anabolic state.
Anabolic hormones such as insulin, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are prevalent and they positively influence the growth of muscle mass, while also being responsible for better regeneration of the body and rejuvenation of tissues. During exercise endorphins are released, which improve the mental state of the individual with the feeling of happiness and satisfaction.
Strength exercise results in increased release of hormone testosterone in the body. It is a key factor in muscle mass growth but it also plays other roles as well. Satisfactory concentration of free testosterone in blood is required for appropriate functioning of the human body, where inadequate levels can lead to low sex drive and low degree of motivation thus in turn leading to low productivity, which negatively affects a company performance.
We know, that sex drive depends mostly on hormonal balance in the body and it can be the catalyst to success in business as it is on its own the strongest creative force of mother nature. Even though the last sentence may sound a bit too remarkable we cannot deny the importance of exercise in balancing the hormonal balance and acceleration of metabolism in the body.
Preventing back pain
Stress and a great deal of sitting oftentimes accelerate the development of pain in the back. When it comes to businesspersons, chronic pain in the low back and neck area are quite common and they represent a complex biopsychosocial occurrence. In most cases the pain is a result of stress and incorrect body posture due to muscle imbalances.
Extended periods of sitting can lead to having weak muscles of the posterior kinetic chain and shortened muscles of the anterior kinetic chain which additionally taxes the spine. Discomfort and pain in the spinal region negatively affect the overall level of energy and quality of sleep – resulting in chronic inflammation and more sick days.
Gradual application of strength training is scientifically proven as the best approach to address and deal with low back pain, accompanied by an adequate level of physical activity and ergonomic adaptation to the workplace (Balagué, et al., 2012)
Increasing productivity and creativity
In the context of back pain, we can expand on the fact that chronic neck pain decreases productivity (Pereira, et al., 2019). The authors of the study imply that a combination of ergonomic adaptation to the workplace and regular exercise is indeed an excellent way of dealing with pain, in turn increasing productivity and creativity at the individual’s workplace.
Increasing the company’s performance
Scientifically proven is also the correlation between adequate physical preparedness, number of injuries and company’s performance. In successful small companies the occurrence of injury at work is 4x lesser compared to less successful organizations (Holizki, et al., 2006).
Among the causes for lesser performance the authors emphasized the inability to work due to illness and/or body ache, diminished motivation level and lesser productivity, all related to insufficient physical readiness and low degree of physical activity of the employees. ”Soldiers have to be well rested, feed good, and be physically prepared for a battle. Imagine an army consisting of chronic disease patients, suffering from hip and back pain, on the front line. Good physical fitness is the base of high morale in business”
As mentioned, regular exercise is proven to be an important factor in maintaining good health and is a foundation of work productivity, work satisfaction, and thus better performance of the company.
It makes sense to devote a part of the day to maintain physical fitness with exercise. The human body is a complex structure, heavily connected with parts depending on one another such as the relationship between the physical and cognitive functioning of the body. Taking care of both physical and mental capacity is the way to the comprehensive success of the individual.
How does a businessperson adjusted training looks like and how to approach exercising, if you are a businessperson
In respect to the article where we compared business to an elite-level sport. The training protocol recommended to businesspeople is quite similar to that of athletes on its core level. With this being said, I want to point out that the protocol has to include all of the aspects of exercise, strength training, endurance training, and mobility work. In this manner the well-being of the organism is taken care of. Training regime has to be individually prepared, as it is the only way to ensure optimal results and avoid »wasting time«.
The key difference between an athlete’s and a businessperson’s training is that with the latter, physical activities do not delve too deep into the zone of functional overload of the body. People in a business deal with challenges in the office on a daily basis and consequently, the extensive physical strain would be counterproductive. The training protocol of a businessperson has to stimulate all the key processes in the body at an adequate level, to achieve optimal results of physical activity while avoiding extensive exertion.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, a great amount of sitting, a part of the world of business, affects the onset of various muscle imbalances and chronic pain. These imbalances are most effectively dealt with strength training and mobility work, adjusted to specific pathological state of the client’s body. Underactive muscles have to be strengthened while overactive ones stretched.
An important part of training is also knowing how to calm down the body. Through different techniques it is possible to learn how to consciously activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing the body to settle down, relax and shut out the stressors of the business world. This results in a better quality of sleep and regeneration while also leading to improved productivity and creativity, which in the long run definitely increases business performance.
A modern world of business can easily be compared with the world of elite sports if not with modern gladiatorial combat, were working in a stressful environment and the ability to quickly adapt to the market are highly valued characteristics. Side effect is a constant psychological and physical stress that needs to be successfully dealt with. One can combat the mentioned effects only with adequate physical preparedness, achieved with regular individualized exercise.
Individual exercise lowers the risk for chronic disease of modern times, pain syndromes, and inflammations in the back as well as in other joints. It also increases productivity, creativity and long-run performance in business.
For a businessperson it is hence more than meaningful to devote a part of the day to exercise. Do not forget about the importance of healthy and strong posture, symbolizing your strength and health.