Why we need fitness leaders
A leader’s healthy lifestyle can readily motivate his people to take care of themselvesBy Mitch Felipe Mendoza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Most of us are willing to follow someone—a leader who can positively affect our life, improve our productivity, and inspire us to live a healthy and happy life.
People follow credible leaders who share their goals and dreams by example. It will be difficult for a newbie exerciser trying to lose weight to follow the fitness program of a personal trainer who doesn’t have time to work out at all.
It will be challenging for a patient to fulfill constant lifestyle reminders like “quit smoking” and “eat healthy” from a medical professional who doesn’t prioritize his own health.
And it will take too much time and effort for an uninspired employee to embrace the corporate wellness program initiated by their unfit and always stressed-out boss.
“Building a healthy company starts at the top, and there is no more powerful support for any strategy than to lead by example,” said Tyler Cooper, CEO of Cooper Aerobics Enterprises.
Leaders who are physically and mentally fit don’t only solve problems and provide the financial needs of their people; they also inspire them. A leader’s healthy lifestyle can readily motivate his people to take care of themselves because he/she becomes the ultimate role model for a balanced lifestyle.
Managing one’s health implies that one can effectively help and inspire others. The healthy lifestyle and positive attitude a leader displays becomes contagious. As a result, it will be easier for a genuinely fit leader who walks the talk to convert a fat workplace, community or nation into a healthy one.
Credible leaders are perceived to be effective by their subordinates. Data compiled by the Center for Creative Leadership that was published last January in the Wall Street Journal’s article “Want to be a CEO? What’s Your BMI?” shows that executives with higher values of body mass index (a measure to identify if your weight is appropriate to your height) and with larger waistlines tend to be perceived as less effective in the workplace (both in performance and interpersonal relationships).
Highly effective leaders (politicians, managers, health leaders, teachers and parents) empower their people to take essential steps to improve the quality of life and take responsibility for their actions.
They are credible, so people will more likely listen to them. The pressure stress leaders get from convincing people to avoid health problems becomes less. And a less-stressed leader becomes more effective because he can channel his efforts to other concerns that require his attention.
Aside from instant cure, efficient leaders prioritize prevention and long-term wellness. Leaders just don’t make promises like giving their people free healthcare programs; they initiate and help design programs that will prevent diseases and health problems.
Leaders should focus on developing systems that will improve the environment and lifestyle of his people because this can make an impact in saving money. This would mean creating a culture of healthy, happy, stress-free and disease-free living.
Health service is not only about curing ailments or providing medicines. It is also about educating people on how to take care of themselves through regular physical activity and choosing the healthiest food they can eat.
Results of studies in corporate wellness prevention programs initiated by leaders show significant return of investment after two or more years. This means leaders should promote long-term wellness programs for people that will call them to action, to get significant results.
Well, as a matter of fact, a long-lasting lifestyle change can’t be achieved in just a short period of time. It requires the correct formula (eating, exercise and stress management combination), patience, constant support and proper incentives.
A leader is humble and always hungry for growth. Good leaders and role models are humble enough to accept their weaknesses and are always ready to improve themselves for the better. Your supervisor might still be unfit now, but he may already be mapping out his plans on how to change his lifestyle.
A fit and healthy leader doesn’t have to be super lean and strong, or trains every day and joins sports events. A hopeful and driven leader can be sickly and overweight, but now recognizes the need to prioritize his well-being, and has a positive attitude and solid action plan that will give hope and happiness to his people.
Anyone can be a leader and/or an inspiration. You might not be a manager or a politician. But anytime, as early as now, you can always be a good role model who can help the people around you prevent health problems by starting to eat healthy and to exercise regularly.
You can even inspire your own leader to take the necessary steps to support your community. Start now, ask help from professionals to reach your passion and goals, and don’t wait for a leader to take the initiative—or it might be too late.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter @mitchfelipe.