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Long hours. Travel. Pressure. Are the demands of being a leader taking a toll on your health?

Our research shows that many senior executives struggle with staying healthy — and that the hardest part is getting into good habits. But there are at least 7 steps to take care of your health.

“Executives who exercise regularly tell us it takes creativity and effort to make exercise a priority,” says Sharon McDowell-Larsen, a faculty member at CCL. Their strategies for maintaining regular fitness programs in spite of extremely busy schedules include the following 7 tips:

  1. Do less, more often: Shorter but more frequent rounds of exercise are effective and often easier to fit into busy, ever-changing schedules. Often the most successful routine is the one that is the most time efficient.
  2. Get moving: Given the sedentary nature of corporate life, finding ways to increase activity throughout the day can help. Try walking while talking on your cell phone, getting up from your desk to stretch, parking far from the door, and taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
  3. Keep track: Set up an easy system to log your workouts. This serves as a reality check on how much or how little exercise you are getting. It can also help you set goals and stay motivated.
  4. Take it on the road: More and more executives are finding hotels with adequate fitness facilities or health club access. If nothing else, pack a set of stretch cords for resistance training, a pair of running or walking shoes, and a swimsuit, since most hotels at least have a pool. It may take a while to make exercise a habit; however, in time it will become routine.
  5. Be flexible: Some executives find it impossible to work out the same time each day or week, but do well when they build in flexibility. Take advantage of an open slot in your calendar whenever it appears. If someone else keeps your calendar, have him or her schedule workouts for you.
  6. Multi-task: Combine exercise time with other activities. Use your daily walk, run or workout to think through your day and strategize about work matters. Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or language lessons if you feel the need to focus your mind as you exercise. Exercise with your spouse or kids. Finding creative ways to combine exercise with other activities helps provide justification for the time spent exercising.
  7. Motivate: Think of your weekday workout routines as a way to stay strong and fit for weekend leisure activities. Staying healthy for skiing, surfing, golf, or keeping up with kids can be a big motivator.

Your efforts will pay off with enhanced fitness, health benefits, and increased success in coping with the demands of executive life.

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