How Strength Training Boosts Leadership Effectiveness

written by   Nwando Eze   |   Physical Health
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Leadership, of any kind, can be a stress provoking. Leaders are at particularly high risk for chronic stress which is associated with adverse physical and mental outcomes. Executives who are fit are more effective than those who are not. Strength training like lifting free weights, weight machines, resistance training classes and body weight exercises (like pushups, planks or squats) have been shown improve leadership effectiveness by mitigating unhealthy physical and mental health illnesses. Since time can be an issue for many busy leaders, shorter, multiple bursts of intensive strength training has been shown to be just as beneficial as longer, less intense workouts. Below are ways strength training improves leadership effectiveness.

1) Improved brain function and mental health:

Long term studies show strength training can be protective of parts of the brain important for cognition, memory and mental acuity. As little as 6 months of strength training provides protection against dementias like Alzheimer’s. Strength training has also been linked with decreased risk of depression and anxiety associated with chronic stress many leaders encounter. It can lead to improved mood, self-confidence, and a strengthened mind-body connection. All of these factors help build the mental acuity and stamina leaders require to be effective and succeed.

2) Ward off chronic diseases:

A leader is more effective when they are not burdened by multiple chronic diseases. Studies show that after just 2 months of weight training, we can see decreases in resting blood pressure or hypertension, a common disease many leaders struggle with and a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Strength training can also lead to improved blood lipid profiles with a decrease in “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and an increase in “good” cholesterol (HDL). Since muscle loss is closely associated with bone loss, weight training also increases bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis. A healthy weight from strength training helps ward off other chronic diseases that can slow high functioning leaders down like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, back pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

3) Improved weight management:

As many folks over forty notice, our metabolism slows as we age. It becomes much harder to lose weight and keep it off. Our bodies hold on to fat easier even as our eating habits remain the same. Strength training keeps our metabolism high and builds lean muscle. This helps us burn calories easier. We can lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight easier as a result. A healthier weight is associated with improved leadership effectiveness.

Triple C Pearls

1) Next steps:

Make a commitment to incorporate strength training into your exercise regimen. Start small with lifting dumb bells or other body weight options like pushups or planks 15-20 minutes a day.
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Hi, I’m Nwando Eze a board-certified physician and Certified Physician Executive with a Masters in Public Health and Business Administration. An accomplished author and speaker, I’m passionate about nurturing early careerist into young leaders, coaching leaders into becoming the best, well-rounded versions of themselves, improving justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in leadership and helping leaders live a well- rounded life.

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