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Boost Your Brainpower and Business Success: Strength training benefits for business owners

Woman balancing a pike position while balanced on two kettle balls.
Work on your body strength and your brain, and business, will benefit

Many women often prioritize their families over their own self-care needs. They may prioritize their children's well-being, neglecting their health and fitness routines. For instance, I used to skip exercising to ensure that my children were fed and sent to school, and then, I would spend the rest of the day at work. However, this unhealthy cycle caused me to land in the emergency room. Therefore, I advise everyone never to put self-care last, no matter how busy life may get.

We’ve heard that putting your mask first before helping others is a great analogy for moms neglecting self-care. By taking care of ourselves, we are better able to care for our families. Self-care is good for our families and essential for our businesses.

I read somewhere that your health is your business’s wealth, which makes complete sense. If you aren’t healthy, you won’t have the energy, focus, or creativity to grow your business. Furthermore, if you don’t take care of yourself and end up sick or unable to work, it could end your business.

The short story is that your family and business will suffer if you don’t prioritize your health.

We have probably all heard about the current recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. However, something that is newer to me is everything I have heard about the importance of building strength.

One of the habits of success of entrepreneurs I discuss in my coaching program is movement and strength building. Look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs; you will notice that they take physical conditioning seriously, have trainers, and have daily exercise time. So what do these successful entrepreneurs know that you don’t?

Key Takeaways

  1. Self-care leads to better health, increased productivity, and sustainable success in business and life.

  2. Strength training sharpens cognitive abilities, reduces stress, and enhances confidence, providing a competitive edge and resilience in the entrepreneurial journey.

  3. To kick-start a strength-building routine, focus on habit stacking by integrating workouts into existing schedules, scheduling sessions in advance, finding an accountability partner, and starting with manageable steps to build momentum and consistency.

What are the strength training benefits for business owners?

There are many reasons to add strength-building to your routine (Davidson, 2021), but I would like to point out a few that connect directly to your success as an entrepreneur.

Helps you think better

As entrepreneurs, our brains are our most valuable asset. We rely on our ability to solve problems and think creatively, and these abilities are directly connected with our exercise habits. It may be the increased blood flow to the brain or the fact that we can sleep better. In any case, the brain requires many calories in proportion to its size and is affected by how we process glucose, which is also affected by our muscle development. (Jabr 2012)

Several studies have suggested that exercise may increase the volume of the brain's areas responsible for memory and thinking and our capacity for problem-solving, persistence and executive processes (“Exercise Can Boost Your Memory and Thinking Skills - Harvard Health” 2023) (Reynolds 2024) (LaMotte 2023) (“Exercise Linked to Productivity” 2015)

Other studies have specifically tested strength building and found improvements in cognitive functions such as memory, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, working memory, and executive function. (Yoon, Jun Young Lee, and Song 2018) (de et al. 2016)

One study found that more cognitive improvements resulted from progressive resistance training than aerobic exercise (Mavros et al. 2016). Please note the use of ‘progressive’ resistance training, which means we need to keep increasing the difficulty of our training.

Relieves Stress (boosts mood, sense of well-being and confidence)

Entrepreneurship is known to be stressful, so having a strategy to manage stress is essential, and strength training could be one of your most effective ways to combat the effects of stress in entrepreneurial life.

The connection between exercise and stress has been long documented (“Physical Activity Reduces Stress | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA” 2024). We know that learning to manage stress is a key to entrepreneurial and mom-life. Exercise should be your first solution to addressing stress in your life.

Studies have specifically found a connection between lower stress levels and resistance training. (Putiri et al. 2012) and a reduction in anxiety (Renilson Moraes Ferreira et al. 2018) (Gordon et al. 2017) (Gordon et al. 2017)

As an added bonus, strength training boosts your self-image because you set goals and can see your success which gives you the confidence to try more things. You also increase your body image and then have more confidence around others.

As your confidence grows, you are able to try more in your business and experience further success. As the saying goes, “success breeds success”!

Forces you to use your time better

As mentioned above, making time for training will boost your executive functioning, which is your ability to plan and break down tasks. It will also force you to be more mindful about the rest of your day. An old saying is that if you need something done, ask a busy person to do it.

Even though we often crave more free time, we learn to manage our time better when we have more to do. We still need to be careful not to do things that don’t matter, but I am trying to make a case that strength-building should be a priority because it will help you be a better wife, mother and entrepreneur. It must become a priority for all of us, especially those of us on the older end.

Now that you see how strength training benefits for business owners, how can you work in strength-building with everything else on your plate?

What you can do to increase your strength

(I advise anyone wanting to build new habits to read Atomic Habits and imprint it on their brain, as they inspire many of the ideas below.)

Change your view of yourself

Visualize yourself as a fit person, think about what a strong person does, has, and is like, and start incorporating those aspects into your life. By assuming the identity of the person we want to become, we see ourselves in a new light and are more likely to make the changes we desire.

Habit Stacking

Habit stacking means finding something you already do and ‘stacking’ the new habit with the old routine. For example, if you normally meet with a friend once a week for coffee, use that time to do your training together (and maybe find a gym next to a coffee shop!!).

Schedule it

We are more likely to do something when we put it in our calendar for an actual day and time. Additionally, it reminds us and serves as a checklist reminder of what we have done. It makes decision-making easier as it eliminates uncertainties about what to do with ‘free’ time and builds healthy habits for better time and energy management.

Better earlier than later

We tend to be more effective if we schedule what needs to be done earlier (like the Mark Twain quote about eating a frog early in the morning so the rest of the day is easy). Distractions or disruptions are less likely when you do your priority work first thing in the day.

Additionally, scheduling a workout earlier will help you focus and work more effectively during the rest of the day.

Children who walked for 20 minutes on a treadmill performed better on an academic achievement test than children who read quietly before the exam. (Jabr 2012)

Find a buddy

Research shows that we are more likely to follow through when we have an accountability partner. When I was struggling to get out for my runs, it really helped knowing my friend was meeting me at the park at 7 a.m. It made it much harder to cancel on the days I didn’t feel like running because I knew she would be waiting for me.

[Y]ou have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you tell someone else you’re committing to doing it. And if you have specific check-ins with a partner, your chance of success increases to 95%. (Chaudhuri 2023)

Pay for it

Another way to ensure you will do something is to get skin in the game. Just paying for a gym membership or class may guilt you into going. Chances are you are more likely to stick to your routine if you have paid to do it somewhere or with someone.

Make it easy

It's best not to schedule activities that are too far away or require special equipment or gear you don't have. Doing so will only create more barriers and make it harder for you to start. Walking is a great activity because it doesn't require much except a pair of shoes, and you can start right outside your front door. It's important to consider how easy or difficult an activity is. Try to make it as easy as possible to do the things you enjoy, and make it harder to do the things you don't want to do (like keeping sweets in a lockbox).

Get progressively harder

You may have noticed that many studies looked at ‘progressive resistance training’ because we need to make a point of doing things that are a bit harder all the time; that is how we get stronger. So start with the easiest step possible, maybe just putting on your shoes. Then gradually increase the difficulty. You want to continue to grow and push yourself, but you don’t want to start hard, so you won’t start.

Reward yourself

I used to allow myself chocolate only after I had run - just a little extra incentive to get out the door. You could say the same when checking socials or some other temptation you have. Even a checkmark fires the reward centers of your brain, so using a habit tracker where you check off each day could help. The tracker could be as simple as putting a checkmark on a wall calendar or a dedicated app (there are many choices!!).

Next Steps

Getting stronger is about your physical body and empowering yourself. If you are already a business owner, I encourage you to focus on yourself and specifically on building muscular strength. If you are not yet a business owner, one of the most powerful ways to build your strength as an individual is to start your own business. You will constantly learn, grow, and progressively stretch yourself to learn new skills. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Business Builder


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