By Cheshire Que
Being an executive sure has its perks. The responsibilities that come with the position, however, can surely take its toll on any executive’s health and wellbeing. In a study conducted by Ganesh Ravindra, et al. “The Stressed Executive: Sources and Predictors of Stress Among Participants in an Executive Health Program,” which was published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine on Oct.17, 2018, 827 out of 839 executives participated in the research between May 2012 and July 2016. The results have shown that majority of the executives are overweight with BMI greater than 28, have high blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides), and 34 percent have high blood pressure or hypertension.
The top three sources of their stress were: Demandresource imbalance at work, general health, and concerns for children and family. The executives struggle with sleep, anxiety, energy level, diet, and physical activity. The participants who claimed to be highly stressed also reported significantly less physical activity.
Stress and lack of physical activity can be likened to the chicken and egg dilemma. Was the stress caused by lack of physical activity or vice versa? While stress cannot be totally avoided, it can be an obstacle to being physically active and having regular exercise. This can be due to many factors such as lack of energy, busy schedule, lack of motivation, and more. On the other hand, being physically inactive or leading a sedentary lifestyle contributes to stress or even aggravates it.
Exercise improves blood circulation. It oxygenates the body all over and even helps in the production of serotonin, a mood regulator. This hormone is vital to the production of sleep hormone melatonin as well. We all know that getting quality sleep is essential to combating stress. If you let stress overwhelm you and fail to exercise, you mess up with your sleeping pattern, which in turn wreaks havoc with hormones that control your appetite and food cravings. There goes healthy diet down the drain. This is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
The stressed executive who knows the value of exercise oftentimes finds it challenging to incorporate it in his or her daily life. This is where joining a health club becomes beneficial for three reasons.
- De-stress in a home away from home. Joining a health club or a gym ensures a place where an executive can exercise with proper equipment, perfect ambiance, and train with fitness professionals without any interruption. While some prefer to work out at home with their own equipment, the temptation to just lie on the couch and watch television is overpowering. The home should be enjoyed with the family while the gym is a place where you train yourself to work out and enjoy the health benefits of giving yourself just an hour a few days a week of uninterrupted exercise. It will also be a place where you can rest your mind and just focus on working your muscles and getting your heart rate up.
- Motivate yourself. Working out in groups or under the guidance of a coach is motivating. The energy shared in a class will make you forget the day’s worries. You will find yourself energized after the workout and ready to take on the day’s challenges if you exercise in the morning. Working out later in the day prepares you for a restful sleep or quality time with your loved ones.
- Learn self-discipline. Joining a health club or a gym will instill discipline in your lifestyle. It signifies commitment—executives know how important it is to honor commitments. Workouts must be scheduled much like an executive schedules a meeting. This will ensure that the “meeting” will happen contrary to just exercising whenever you feel like it. You will end up never exercising at all.
If you are a stressed executive and you wish to be more physically active, it is best to get your physician’s clearance before joining any health clubs.
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