According to a study in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, regular exercise correlates with higher leadership ratings in senior executives. A National Institutes of Health study found exercise and nutrition can prevent stress-induced career burnout. Do these studies prove themselves out in the real word? And…who is the fittest leader? Asking this is, of course a trick question, as there are eight different dimensions that constitute being fit. Unless your name is LeBron James or Odell Beckham, no one person embodies all eight dimensions:

  • Strength
  • Power
  • Endurance
  • Speed
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination
  • Stamina

Who are some corporate executives that embody specific elements of fitness?

FruitGuys CEO Chris Mittelstaedt can bench press 315 pounds 10 times for 4 sets. He’s got strength and flexibility.

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ran the San Francisco marathon and challenged her team to swim, bike and run nearly 30,000 miles in a month. She’s got endurance.

Unified Chargers Chairman Jukka-Pekka Joensuu is a world-class Telemark skier. He’s got balance, strength and coordination.

Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch practices yoga, meditates every day and does cardio interval training. He’s got endurance, balance, strength and flexibility.

Asking who was the fittest president of our country will yield many answers: Teddy Roosevelt was a boxer, weightlifter and avid outdoorsman. George Washington embodied stamina beyond limits. Ronald Reagan was such an avid weightlifter while in office that he wrote an article about his training regimen in Parade magazine.

Many leaders look at their bodies as functional transport mechanisms for their massive intellects. Not these folks…they recognize it’s the integration of mind, body and spirit that gives them the competitive advantage to stay on top. Your key to advancing in leadership positions and staying there is using exercise to become the very best version of who you can be. Slow down, take a deep breath, before you run off to the gym, you must:

  • Determine what aspects of your fitness profile need a boost
  • Blend the 8 elements of fitness to create a custom recipe based on your age and stage of life
  • Develop a plan to integrate exercise into your life on a consistent basis
  • Establish a “pit crew” of professionals, family members and friends to support your efforts

Some real world goals of increasing your level of fitness may include:

  • Enhancing your competitive advantage by increasing mental acuity
  • Overcoming jetlag to make travel more comfortable
  • Improving your appearance to create a better first impression
  • Preventing burnout to keep you at peak performance longer
  • Turbocharging your metabolism to see more clients, customers or patients in a day
  • Increasing your stamina to soar with the owls at evening events
  • Improving your golf, tennis or other recreational sport to inject more fun in your life
  • Preventing illness and injuries to keep yourself off the injured reserve list

The good news is that several goals can be achieved by performing a single well-designed exercise program. For example, if a person wanted to lose weight to improve their appearance, turbocharge their metabolism and increase their stamina, an initial program could include:

  • A thirty-minute cardio routine, mixing moderate and high intensity intervals on a treadmill, elliptical or stair stepper, done twice a week.
  • A forty-minute cardio routine done at low to moderate intensity, such as dog walking or hiking in the woods, done two to three times a week.
  • A forty-five minute, full-body strength training routine with moderate weights using a 3 set protocol, done twice a week.
  • A thirty-minute to one-hour yoga, Pilates or meditation session done once a week.

In today’s hyper competitive world, you need every advantage you can get. Enhancing your human powerplant can give you the winning edge. How many of these eight dimensions of fitness do you have? How do you keep yourself in top condition?