Sporting body, business mind? AHEAD surveys the professional benefits of physical exercise
To be successful as a leader, you need 
to have a mindset similar to a top athlete.

AHEAD survey participant, June 2012

In this Olympic summer, the old adage mens sana in corpore sano still appears to ring true.  A resounding 96% of respondents in AHEAD’s latest survey believe that regular physical exercise has a positive impact on their performance or wellbeing at work. Yet only 27% of this cohort is offered any sporting or physical exercise facilitated by their employer.

Energy levels, better mood and improved physical health were the three most noticeable benefits of exercise, according to AHEAD’s 376 respondents in early June 2012. More energy was considered the single most important benefit, with 99% noticing a positive (47%) or very positive (52%) improvement, thanks to their regular exercise regime.
Other noticeable benefits were greater resistance to stress, improved appearance, greater tenacity, more confidence and enhanced cognitive skills,  to name a few. However, a  very small number admitted a negative impact on their time management, physical health and ability to maintain a helicopter view, and goal setting.

‘We acknowledge that keen sportsmen may have been more likely to respond to this subject than their couch potato colleagues,’ notes AHEAD’s managing consultant, Guy Vereecke, who is himself a keen runner.  ‘However, most of us who engage regularly in physical exercise are convinced of its clear advantages’. And this sentiment was reflected in the spontaneous comments of many other respondents. Read their comments here.

'Regular exercise for me is the ideal way to relieve stress and cope with very frequent travel and time zone differences.’ said Luc De Munck, MD bpost International,  ‘ I am very much convinced that it helps you to recuperate quicker, gets your mind sharper and makes you feel better and more confident altogether.' 

'More than once I've found a clear and straightforward solution to a difficult situation or the right wording for a speech after a run of 20kms or more,’ added Stephane Holvoet, CEO of Amsterdam Commodities.

Running was indeed the most practiced sport by this audience, followed by cycling, then swimming, gym, team sports, racquet sports and aerobics/dance. The majority (43%) exercised just once or twice a week, with 36% indulging three or four times weekly. Only 2% exercised every day.

However, despite the obvious benefits to companies of a fitter workforce, the vast majority (73%) of respondents to AHEAD’s survey were not offered any sort of sporting or physical exercise facilitated by their current employer, whether on or off site.

The old adage mens sana in corpore sano makes even more sense in times of economic and social instability,’ claimed one enthusiastic respondent.  ‘Making sure that employees and colleagues participate in exercise in an employer’s duty.’

‘Whatever one’s personal sport or standpoint,’ concludes Guy Vereecke, ‘in an era when performance and productivity are critically important to European companies, these are surely thought-provoking results for HRDs and business leaders alike.’

For a statistical overview of results, simply click here.

Running a marathon is like running a business: 
without smart goal setting, planning and priorization and without the perseverance of overcoming obstacles on your way to the finish line, it will end in failure.
AHEAD survey respondent