People often assume that SEAL training requires vast amounts of physical stamina and mental strength. They would be correct. Members of the most elite special operations forces are developed like professional athletes. From Day One of BUD/S (a Navy SEAL training program), you have to dig deep just to make it to the end of the day. Then you have to wake up early and do it all over again. As the saying goes, "The only easy day was yesterday."
The stress of knowing the pain you will endure can be overwhelming. Whether it's surf torture or running for miles on the beach carrying heavy logs, your mind and body are growing in strength without you even realizing it. But there is a scientific method to the madness, if you will. No battle was ever won by a team whose members ask for a time-out so they can catch their breath.
The same can be said for busy professionals. Beyond the battlefield, being physically fit and prioritizing healthy living can have a direct link to one's ability to perform well in the workplace. NASA conducted a study showing that people who make exercise a habit are consistently more productive after seven hours of work than those that don't. Why? Because you'll have the following:
- Better Executive Function. This skill set allows you to appropriately respond to the situation at hand, inhibit inappropriate behavior, and focus on the job in spite of distractions.
- More Energy. When people are tired, the last thing they generally want to do is exercise. But taking a nap won't get the job done. Exercising will boost energy and reduce fatigue in both the short and long term. With more energy, you can accomplish more tasks. In a study posted in the Psychological Bulletin, 90 percent of the usually sedentary participants experienced increased energy when implementing a regular exercise program into their daily lives.
- Less Stress. Fitness should be part of everyone's stress-management program. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. It also improves mood and helps you sleep better. All of this helps your body control stress. When stress is reduced, you make better decisions. Good decisions set you up for success.
- A Clear Mind. This is one of the reasons I try to exercise during the workday. Instead of going to lunch, go for a run. This is an excellent way to break up the day and be ready to tackle whatever the afternoon will throw at you. Even if it's just 20 minutes of exercise, make it happen. When thinking clearly, you will be a more productive contributor to your team.
- Confidence. Being physically fit gives a person more confidence. Training teaches you to live outside of your comfort zone for extended periods of time. That confidence bleeds into your performance at work, in meetings, speaking to a crowd, or whatever opportunities work provides. Confident people command respect, and that can go a long way for someone rising in the ranks.
Nobody has ever regretted making exercise a part of his or her regular routine. You might think you can't afford to take time to exercise, but can you afford not to?