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5 Reasons Staying in Shape Benefits Your Career (and how to get better at it)


There is no doubt that regular exercise and staying in shape has significant health benefits. People who are fit generally live a more active, longer and happy life. Of course, people who are not in as good of shape also tend to be happy, and may not see a reason to make it a priority. If that sounds like you, would you make it a higher priority if you knew being healthier can make you more money? According to this post from Payscale as well as this article from Money, those who are in better shape have a higher salary.

We get that money isn't the end-all-be-all definition of success, but if you want to do better in your career for any reason, exercise plays a crucial role. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. You'll Sleep Better. Better sleep is known to have so many benefits, including being more productive and more focused. If anything, it makes you less irritable and more able to deal with that useless team member, jerk client or annoying recruiter. Exercise is a proven way to get better sleep, as backed up in this article from the Huffington Post.

  2. You're More Productive. Partially due to that better sleep, but also the fact that exercise brings you more energy and alertness, people who are in better shape are more productive. That means completing projects faster and better, taking on more projects, impressing more clients, and building a well-known positive reputation in the industry.

  3. Your Brain Gets Sharper. Not only do muscles get stronger when you exercise, but so does your brain. As this article from the Huffington Post explains, exercise leads to increased blood flow and oxygen which has significant benefits to the brain. It's known to boost brain cell function and create new brain cells which help improve memory and learning.

  4. You Take Fewer Sick Days. Naturally, when your health is better, you're not going to be off sick as often. Independent contractors don't have the benefit of paid sick days -- when you're not working you're not making money. Exercising has proven time and again to keep people healthier, both physically and mentally.

  5. Your Networking is Better. Some would argue that even networking events are more successful. Staying in shape gives more energy to deal with some of the boring events, and also gives you more confidence to approach people and start a conversation. As well, people can unfortunately be shallow and often make better connections and feel more comfortable with those who are more physically in shape.

How a Busy IT Contractor Can Stay in Shape

That all sounds great but how can you possibly exercise when you're juggling contracts, updating resumes, managing accounting and spending time with your family and friends? The simple answer is to make time (watch less TV, wake up earlier, etc.) but that also may not be realistic. Consider other simple options that don't require a time change such as changing your diet, taking the stairs or biking to work. If you're having trouble getting motivated, talk to others to create a group of people who work out together and encourage each other.

Are you in as good of shape as you’d like to be? If so, how do you make sure you do you make it a priority? Do you think it has helped your career?