Exercising Leadership Skills: 5 Tips for Working Out Your Brain

By Al Gonzalez

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

There is no question that being a leader demands a lot from the brain.

The better your ability to think clearly, analyze options, and remember details, the better you will be able to lead.

This ability applies whether you are leading an established team, your family, or starting a new business.

With leadership comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes many demands on our time.

Making time to work out is not easy and tends to be sacrificed. In addition, eating healthy requires time to plan and prepare our meals, another time-consuming activity in an already hectic schedule.

The result? We don’t exercise, and we eat food of poor quality on the run.

Leadership Skills for Your Brain

The following cartoon by Glasbergen captures the essence of why we should take the time to do the opposite:

The brain gets a boost too.

As someone once told me when I was considering snowboarding, “If you use your brain to work, you should use a helmet when snowboarding.”

This was wise advice, and I would like to adapt it for this article:

If you use your brain to lead, you should exercise and eat healthy foods.

There is plenty of evidence that exercising and eating right is not only good for you, but it is also good for your brain.

Improve Brain Function

Improve Your Brain Function

According to LifeSpan Fitness, regular exercise and a healthy diet will radically lessen the chance of developing major health issues later in life. This is particularly important for those who have a genetic predisposition to diseases such as diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and metabolism problems.

Many specialists now recommend adopting an exercise program into a standard week to prolong life and help individuals restore a work/life balance.

Exercise can improve your brain function.

Studies conducted have provided insight into the effect exercising has on improving the function of our brains.

While improving the way our body breaks down and uses the healthier, more nutritious food we are consuming, the brain also enjoys various other benefits.

Exercise improves blood flow and assists in the production of brand chemicals regulating and improving overall brain function.

Routine exercise has also been associated with a significant reduction in the chances of developing dementia in later years, as well as improvements in those who already suffer from the illness.

Basic forms of exercise, such as walking and routine jogging, have been linked to improvements in both memory and cognition.

As a bodybuilder, leadership consultant/podcaster, full-time employee, and father of two young children, I understand very well how difficult it is to find time to fit in regular exercise and healthy meals into my hectic schedule.

Here are a few tips that can help you stay fit while taking care of all your responsibilities:

Plan Your Meals for the Week

Before I go shopping for groceries, I plan the meals for my family. While I am doing this, I take time to think about the foods I want to include and the meals I can prepare based on those foods.

For example, chicken, lean beef, eggs, broccoli, sweet potatoes, brown rice or quinoa, and leafy green veggies are staples for my diet. So I plan meals like grilled chicken/beef with sweet potatoes pan-fried in olive oil and salad.

Choose a Gym Near Your Children’s Activities

If you have young children, many gyms offer daycare. Our local YMCA provides fantastic childcare options and activities for older children. I used the gym at our local Y during the early years of my children.

Now my daughter is old enough to stay home without us, and my 9-year-old son is into hockey, so I switched gyms to one that is nearby the hockey rink.

Start with a Good Trainer

If you are starting out, you should invest in a few sessions with a qualified trainer in your area. While this can be a bit costly, there are many things to learn when you are starting out, and a good trainer can help you kickstart your program in a safe and sustainable manner.

Joining a gym can be intimidating, and a trainer can introduce you to some of the gym members and help you get acquainted with the gym.

Find a Workout Partner

There are many benefits to working out with a partner. Working out with someone else can help your motivation at the gym and provide a valuable spotter for difficult or heavy exercises. It is also very helpful to work out with someone during plateaus and find fun alternatives to the boring cardio machines.

For example, my workout partner and I play frisbee instead of using the machines at the gym. You can also jog, hike, or walk together and enjoy the outdoors.

For recipes, routines, and related fitness content, check out my curated Scoopit! topic on bodybuilding & fitness. I only post quality content and often blend leadership and fitness with my scoops.

If you simply can’t fit the time to go to the gym into your schedule or prefer to work out alone, here is a free routine that will certainly get your metabolism kicking.

As you become more experienced, you can do multiple cycles and find other good routines on the internet.

Lastly, there is one strategy anyone can use that is good for us and does not take any additional time from our schedules.

Drink More Water

Water composes 75% of our brain and makes up 75% of our muscles.

Drinking eight or more eight-ounce glasses of water does not require too much time, other than the extra trips to the bathroom.

How Can You Work Out Your Brain?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Would you like to contribute a post?

Al Gonzalez
Al Gonzalez
Al has worked for 16 years helping others maximize the quality of their leadership at Motorola, CBS Sports, and Cornell University. He’s used these experiences to develop trust-based leadership tools for all levels of management.
  • David McCuistion says:

    Great article Al. I place it under the title of “Physical Intelligence”, which is one of the four leadership intelligences I recently wrote about on About Leaders. Thank you.

  • Ramdeo Choudhary says:

    No doubt the physical fitness is needed for the whole body including the brain for the development and growth of cognitive functions. What the west has been missing always in the process the neglect of the inner self. The reality of our human existence comprises the physical nature, ie related with outer world and equally the inner nature related with our inner self which is full of potentialities and power. One without the other is incomplete. By physical fitness you can increase your physical power and stamina but how about the development of compassion and care, awakening of the self, facing head on the odd circumstances with acceptance, removing bias,develop hiring skills etc. We must stress equally on both the aspects other wise I am afraid the message will not go in totality. What the leadership demands is equally related with our inner world also. It is rational and not dogmatic and perhaps there has been greater degree of acceptance by the west, day by day on the need to fight frustration of daily life in search of happiness through both physical and spiritual means. Only one has not served the purpose so far.

  • Mary Kay Whitaker says:

    Hi Al, Thanks so much for writing this great article on brain power. Leadership success only comes with people that are thinking clearly and vibrant. I look forward to your next set of recommendations!

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