The (Not So) Secret Benefit of Exercise

Posted on September 2, 2019 by mmaloney

As we head into September it is a season of renewed focus on one’s own health and wellness goals for a lot of people.  In the fitness industry September is referred to as “second January” because it is definitely a time of year, where people want to reset after a potentially overindulgent summer.  One too many barbeques or potentially an extra drink or two (or 40) may be the reason for the decision.  However, it may also be that we have been programmed since we were 5 years old that September represents new beginnings and new routines as the start of the school year has been engrained in our beings as a time for getting back to routines.

That being said; whether you are returning to exercise for yourself, or if you are someone who is a leader and is trying to grow the people around you I want us to look at one of the BEST kept secrets of exercise, that will help your organization be more successful and build your teams success!  Are you ready for it? 

Here it is:

Exercise is an excellent way to practice adversity and fail with little to no repercussions.

The reality is this; there is a large gap in the work world right now.  We have all witnessed it.  We have all been impacted by it.  The struggles with resiliency in the work force is alive and well and it is causing a decrease in employee engagement, an increase in employee turnover, and a decrease in an organization’s bottom line.  Of course, there are those “unicorns” out there who can keep pushing through even in the bleakest of times, however they are few and far between (and they likely exercise!)

We often hear of corporate executives, and executive coaches talking about the benefits of exercise and the fact they can not imagine not exercising, but to narrow in on why isn’t always as clear.  The reality is this:  exercise has a LOT of benefits, but this critical benefit plugs along with little glory and not many people talking about it.  And in today’s challenging work environments as leaders we all need to be on the look-out for opportunities to help our teams take on challenges with more resilience and success!

Here are 4 ways exercise/ working out will help build your teams resiliency muscles no matter what adversities they face.

The Cost of Entry

Showing up just 3 or 4 times a week with an intention to exercise for some is adversity practice number one.  If you have not been in the habit of exercising this will actually be the first lesson, and a way to practice resilience.  When you don’t want to show up; you need to negotiate with yourself and likely overcome some negative self-talk that is trying to talk you down.  Just like when an obstacle crosses your path at work, if you can convince yourself to keep pushing to show up at the gym you can repeat that skill at work when the going gets tough as well, and the consequences may not seem as obvious.

Risk Taking and Overcoming Fears

Every time you try something new at the gym you are taking a risk and overcoming a potential fear.  “Will I look silly?”  “Will I get hurt?”  “Will I fail?”  It may be walking into the club, it may be trying a new class, it may be trying a new lift.  Regardless of what the new activity is, the worst thing that can happen by taking the risk at the gym is that you won’t like it, and potentially one of those fears will come true… but again the consequences of those fears coming true are pretty minimal in the grand scheme of life.  The best part is though you are training your risk-taking muscles.  Each time you try something new and survive you tell your brain “that new thing was okay… it didn’t kill me!”  Transfer that same mindset into the work world and all of a sudden, a new task, assignment or project doesn’t seem as intimidating either, maybe it won’t be your favorite thing, but the act of trying something new seems less intimidating, not to mention likely not nearly as scary as trying that Aqua Zumba class!


During exercise your goal is to fail.  It’s one of the only places where the definition of success is that your body actually fails.  Think about that; where else in life is your goal to fail?  This has a profound impact on you.  There is really no consequence if you fail.  The consequence is your reward:  Results!  Failing means you pushed to your absolute max and a great way to learn you have more in you to give.  I find too often in the workplace people throw in the towel too soon.  When someone is starting a new business, they may quit because they are tired.  What would your results be like if everyone on your team had more stamina when it came to fighting for a win?

With Grit Comes Belief

Why is practicing grit at the gym so amazing?  Because as soon as you push through once, you teach yourself you can push through again.  You actually start to reinforce in your brain the fact that you can do more and more.  With this reinforcement comes belief.  Belief in your skills, belief in your strength, belief in yourself.  Transfer this to the workplace, and just think of all the amazing things you can do when you have a team of people who believe.  A team who know that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. 

The reality is there are many skills you that translate from the gym to the workplace.  Time Management, Prioritization, Project Management, Planning, Strategizing, Relationship Building, Stress Tolerance all just to name a few.  However, the difference is that there are lots of other places where you can also practice these skills with little to no repercussions.  Having the opportunity to practice adversity in a safe environment is something that we need to be asking of our team members and creating opportunity for them to experience.  If everyone took the risks that people in fitness and sport take, we would see a lot more happiness, bravery and energy at work and it would be a pretty amazing thing to see!

Melissa Maloney is the founder of Happy Leader Enterprises.  Learn more about the strategies she can help you bring to your workplace that will increase your organizations engagement through energy, efficiency and productivity at

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