Exercise your body to exercise your brain

1585 reads

I went for a jog with two good friends the other day.  A very long jog.  A half-marathon, in fact.

Mark Paper, a friend since childhood, and Bobby Eldridge, both very successful businessmen, joined me for the second straight year of P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix, in late January.  These are two guys who know about going the distance.  They push me when I need it, and I am grateful.  

You’ve probably heard me repeat one of my favorite aphorisms:  They don’t pay off on effort, they pay off on results.  Of course, there is no result without effort.  A 13-mile jog takes plenty of effort.  Finishing it is an awesome result.

And if I ever need more motivation, I think back to my first New York marathon, which I ran in 1986.  Of the 20,000 runners who started, the most amazing was a Viet Nam veteran, who finished last – in 4 days, 2 hours and 47 minutes.  He covered the 26.2 miles with no legs.  He ran on his hands.  When my daughter Mimi and I saw him in the early part of the race, his example convinced us that we could finish that grueling race. 

Marathons, half-marathons, even 5K races are all great tests of accomplishing your goals.  Who says you aren’t tougher, smarter, and harder working than your competition?  If you believe you can do it, and prepare yourself properly, you will have results you can be proud of.    

I am committed to taking care of my physical health because I believe that it has a positive effect on every other facet of my life.  I don’t compete for money or medals.  I participate because I win rewards that no outside organization can offer.  I want to achieve my personal best.

I have been running for more than 40 years, and have completed 10 marathons including the 100th Boston.  Two hip replacements have meant a change to my regimen, but I can’t give up trying.  I even get a rush out of watching other runners compete.  I’ve been attending the summer Olympic Games nearly as long as I have been running, and I always watch the marathon.  Enviously.  I know I will never match these athletes’ super-human times, but I admire their determination and dedication.  They inspire me to keep pushing myself.

What does any of this have to do with business advice?  Plenty.  

There are obvious parallels to perseverance in tough business cycles, dedication to going the extra mile for customers, determination to seeing a job through to the end.  Setting goals and doing what is necessary to achieve them, always trying to improve your performance, and a commitment to be your absolute best are always on the mind of top performers in business and marathons.  And then with the accomplishment of the goal, celebrating success.  

Around this time every year, all those New Year’s resolutions about getting more exercise and taking better care of our bodies start to fade.  Too often, we fall back into bad habits and decide it’s just too hard to stay with a new routine.  

It’s time to refocus and recommit.  A study by the National Academy of Sports Medicine finds that “Maintaining an active healthy lifestyle helps increase productivity and diminishes health care costs.  Employees involved in a corporate wellness program tend to miss fewer days and have fewer doctor visits.  Exercise has many positive benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.  In addition, exercise improves cognitive function, reduces stress, and improves your mood.”   

I can’t argue with any of that.  I know that not everyone has access to a corporate wellness program.   How about starting a walking club during lunch hour or after work?  Exercising with friends provides great motivation to continue.   

Start with a reasonable goal of 15 minutes, and work from there.  If you break exercise into manageable segments you are more likely to stick with it.  You realize that you can make time to take care of your body without compromising your other responsibilities.  But really, shouldn’t one of your greatest responsibilities be taking care of yourself?   

One of my favorite pleasures is hearing from readers about their successes in business after they have found some helpful advice in my columns or books.  I would be thrilled to hear how exercise has improved your career progress and business ventures.  


Mackay’s Moral:   Stop running around in circles – take care of your health.

By Harvey Mackay

To your success,

Harvey Mackay


Ron Kaufman's picture

Why Business Leaders Must Attend Service Training

The most common question we hear when launching service excellence training programs inside large organizations is: “Do leaders really need to attend these workshops?” This raises a different and more important question for senior leaders: Do you
richardbranson's picture

Here’s How to Overcome Embarrassment and Improve Your Self-Confidence

The Fear of Embarrassment IQ Matrix will help you to take control and eventually overcome the feelings of embarrassment you may experience in awkward situations. The article explores what it means to be embarrassed; highlights causes of
jackcanfield's picture

How to Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever

Regardless of how you ring in the New Year (with lively parties and fireworks or cozy celebrations at home), there is a recurring theme at every New Year’s celebration: to the make this year the best year ever. “If you get clear on the what, the how
davecrenshaw's picture

Should you trust your customers?

If you trust your customer to pay you back, will you receive their loyalty plus interest? Well, that’s what I did. No, I didn’t take out a loan or buy a car. I was just getting some chicken. Popeyes fried chicken to be exact. No, this isn’t paid
johnsullivan's picture

Simplify Your Social Media Recruitment By Building Your Own Chatbot

Today, human resource staff focus more on strategizing and satisfying employees’ needs than on administration and recruiting, which were the cornerstones of HR work in a previous era. HR professionals are taking on a much more meaningful role in
Johngreathouse's picture

10 Step Checklist To Rank Your Startup Ideas

A version of this article first appeared in Forbes. Steven Johnson, author of How We Got To Now, analyzes technological breakthroughs, looking for patterns that allow entrepreneurs to identify “How We’ll Get To Tomorrow.” One of the key myths
sethgodin's picture

What do you see?

A better question might be, "what do you choose to see?" If I take four professionals to the Whitney: The architect sees the building, the sight lines, the way the people and the light flow. The framer notices the craftsmanship...   
ramanujamsridhar's picture

What an Idea, Sirji!

It is very difficult to build a brand property which could be a campaign idea, a tune or a tag lineI have an unreasonable liking for Idea, the mobile services brand. And this proclivity has to be understood slightly differently. I used to head the
vsquare's picture

Iceberg Tax: Impact on LTCG will be more than 10 per cent

From: economictimes.indiatimes.com Recommended by: vsquareGives a short perspective on how to save on Long term capital gains tax.By Dhirendra KumarFrom a personal savings and investment perspective, the restoration of long-term capital gains