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Healthy Body, Healthy Business: Why Exercise is Even More Important for Older Entrepreneurs

Healthy Body, Healthy Business: Why Exercise is Even More Important for Older Entrepreneurs
Margaret Manning

What if I told you that there was a simple way to boost your energy, generate business ideas faster, keep your brain healthy, increase your confidence and reduce your stress? Would you be interested? No, I’m not talking about a new $1000 motivation course or nutritional supplement. I’m talking about exercise.

Of course, it’s no secret that exercise can have a positive impact on your productivity at any age, so, why talk about it here? Because, while younger entrepreneurs may experience “significant” benefits from exercise, older entrepreneurs describe the effects of regular exercise as “life-changing” and “profound.”

Let’s dig into some of the benefits that business people of all ages can experience from exercise, as well as a few that are unique to older entrepreneurs. Then, if you stay to the end, I’ll share two specific ways that you can trick yourself into getting more exercise.

Increased Energy When You Need it Most

One common complaint that I hear from business people over 50 is that they don’t have the energy they had at the beginning of their career. Of course, experience gained over the years more than makes up for this, but, why can’t we have the best of both worlds?

It seems counterintuitive, but, if you want to gain more energy, you have to use it first. According to a 2008 study, published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Georgia found that people increased their energy by as much as 20%, just by exercising regularly. WebMD has a more complete explanation of exactly how this process works, but, the advice is simple – use it or lose it.

Generate New Ideas and Keep Your Brain Healthy

Regardless of your age, the ability to generate new ideas is essential to your success as an entrepreneur, freelancer or small business owner. Exercise helps you generate profitable ideas in two ways. First, it gives your brain a long-term boost, helping you to process information faster and access important memories. Second, it gives you an opportunity to break away from your regular routine. Sometimes all you need is a change in context to make a breakthrough in your business. Some of my own creative breakthroughs have happened while walking in nature or exploring a new city.

Exercise is also one of the few factors that we can control that can help prevent more serious neurological problems as we age. I realize that, for the relatively young 50-year olds in our community, topics like dementia may feel like they are a world away. That said, it’s important to remember that the more you can do now to build healthy habits, the better shape you will be in as you build your business in your 60s, 70s and beyond.

Keep Your Stress Under Control

Life in your 50s and 60s is stressful under the best of circumstances. Your family structure is changing, your financial future is uncertain and your body is adjusting to a new normal. It’s almost like being a teenager again! On top of this, add the stress of starting a business and it’s a wonder that any of us manage to stay sane. This is another area where exercise stands out as a simple and effective solution.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” chemicals. Even a short walk or doing a set of 20 jumping jacks can be enough to get your heart pumping, and endorphins flowing. So, the next time you feel your life getting out of control, reach for your sneakers and set out into the world. Your body and your brain will thank you.

Build Some Muscle to Tear Down Aging Stereotypes

Psychologists have shown repeatedly, that stereotypes matter, even when we don’t believe them consciously. As I wrote previously, aging stereotypes may even prevent us from starting a business. When we are constantly bombarded by images of older adults who are weak, slow-minded and “aging gracefully,” it’s no wonder that we see starting a business after 50 as abnormal.

The best way to fight aging stereotypes is to give yourself plenty of counter examples, starting with the person in the mirror. If the person staring back at you is overweight, tired and sluggish, you will be more likely to subconsciously follow the aging script that society has written for you. Don’t let this happen. There is absolutely no reason that you can’t be in the best shape of your life at 50 or 60.

Two Ways to Trick Yourself Into Getting More Exercise

I have a confession to make. Even after writing this article, I still don’t look forward to exercising. Maybe it’s the word “exercise,” which I associate with gyms and yoga classes. Whatever the reason, I need to trick myself into getting the exercise that I know I need.  Here are two techniques that I use on a daily basis.

The first strategy that I use is micro-goals. For example, if you want to get in shape, you might be tempted to lace up your shoes and set out for a 30 minute jog. Instead, I recommend that you walk for 1 minute and increase your commitment in 1 minute increments every day. After a month, you can start jogging 1 minute and walking the other 29. This is by far the best way that I have found to create healthy habits. Read my previous article to find out more about how this technique works.

Another strategy is to look for small lifestyle changes that you can make rather than seeing exercise as an activity in and of itself. For example, choosing a parking space half a mile from your office could help you to burn 176 extra calories per day. Over the course of a year, a few such changes will make a big difference.

Adding 20 minutes of exercise to your daily routine is one of the best things that you can do to keep your body and your business healthy. Let’s get out there and show the world, and ourselves, what we can do.

Have you seen a relationship between exercise and your business success? What do you do to stay in shape after 50? Please join the discussion and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going.

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