Just about no one would be shocked to hear that getting in shape is good for your performance as a manager. Studies have shown that hitting the gym combats stress and common sense tells us that being decently healthy can only help with the struggles of leading a team.

But does the supersize stress and responsibility of being a CEO mean that you need to supersize your workout?

A new working paper suggests this might be the case, showing that a having a boss who can manage not just a spin on the treadmill a couple of times a week, but a whole marathon as well is associated with better performance for his or her company.

26.2 miles to a more valuable company

The researchers identified who among CEOs of S&P 1500 companies had run a marathon each year over the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011, as well as something called Tobin's Q, which essentially captures a company's value, for each of their businesses. Endurance running, it turns out, isn't good just for your cardiovascular health. It is also apparently beneficial to a business's value.

Companies with CEOs who wore out a few pairs of running shoes in their spare time were actually 5 percent more valuable than companies with less fit leaders. The effect was ever greater among CEOs who the researchers thought were more likely to be affected by stress--those over 55, those who had longer tenures at the top, and those who served on several boards and therefore presumably has crazier schedules (and one would assume, with admiration, less time to squeeze in hours-long training runs). For this highly pressured group, completing a marathon was associated with an 8 to 10 percent boost in company value.

Moderate exercise, it seems, benefits those with moderate stress. Those with big jobs may need a big workout. "Fitness moderates stress and increases cognitive and job performance. Thus, it should be relevant for CEOs as they face high levels of demands and responsibilities, particular work stress and physical requirements," the authors conclude.

They're not the only ones who have noticed the benefits of endurance running for high-powered business leaders. Executives themselves seem to have caught on too. Over the period covered by the research, the number of CEOs completing marathons rose from about 4 percent of the sample to just over 7 percent.

Have you ever considered joining these CEOs in marathon training? Maybe this research is just the kick in the pants you need to get started.

Published on: Sep 15, 2014