I’m a runner.
I had some knee issues for a few months that kept me from running as much as I would normally. As much as I hated missing my runs, and I tried to substitute the time with other workouts, I learned a few things about myself during the time of healing.
I was reminded, by not running as much, how valuable to me the exercise is for me personally.
I have always encouraged leaders to have a regular exercise routine. I think it’s a necessary discipline for a healthy leader. If you aren’t currently an active exerciser, I have even more practical, firsthand experience to encourage you to begin.
Here are seven reasons I need to exercise:
Forced down time—I discovered that my running time—or when I exercise—is one of the few times each day where I am not answering emails, taking phone calls or doing something that requires mental power. Exercise forces me to be still—or—well, you know what I mean. My mind is cleared to pray more—to think more.
Physical health—I am better able to maintain my weight when I am running. I feel better. I sleep better. My blood pressure tests lower. The doctor’s office loves taking my vitals when I am in a regular exercise routine. (Due to a heavier than normal travel schedule I am actually up a few pounds—just to be transparent, but thankfully it’s a few pounds, not 15 or 20.)
Mental stimulation—My best ideas come while I am running. I suppose because my body is energized and I’m free from other distractions, I’m so creative while I’m running. My biggest obstacle is figuring out how to record or remember them when I stop running. (I’ve even started to walk for a minute just to record the thought quickly.) Some of my deepest, most intimate times with God come when I’m on a long run. God seems to work in my mind during those times—probably because I’ve given Him better access to my mind.
Longevity—Long days are nothing for me when I am in a healthy running discipline. It seems counterintuitive, but I have more energy in the day—not less—when I’m exercising regularly.
Maximum effectiveness—Exercise—while it seems to take time out of my day—actually ends up being the most effective use of my time. It increases my productivity and gives me a better overall attitude toward my work (and life). It’s powerful enough—I’ve learned from experience—that on my busiest days I try to break away and exercise in the middle of the day. The fastest way for me to get out of a productivity slump is to step away from the “work” and go for a short (or long) run.