Physical Capacity: Hulk Out for Your Career!

In my last post I introduced the topic of the importance of maintaining focus on four health spectrums in order to not only be healthy but a more productive and successful professional. In the Harvard Business Review article, The Making of a Corporate Athlete, the author illustrates the concept of the high-performance pyramid. In this illustration the pyramid starts with a solid foundation of physical capacity and builds on this with Emotional Capacity which then provides for greater mental capacity and finally room for focus on spiritual capacity. Can we be high performers without focusing on each of these layers? Absolutely, but maintaining that high-performing output over a long duration becomes severely limited.

photo by darkpatator via PhotoRee

In this post, I want to focus on the foundational layer of physical capacity. For so many of us we are so quick to ignore this extremely important aspect once our work lives begin to become more hectic. How many of us have skipped that workout or sacrificed more and more hours of sleep to put in more time at the office and punch out one more deliverable? All the while our blood pressure increases and immune system weakens as we work through lunch and go non-stop from the time we punch in until we finally call it a day 10-12+ hours later. When you take a step back you realize it’s a recipe for disaster. I have been guilty of ignoring this all too important aspect and it showed in my effectiveness at work.

Maintaining our physical capacity helps us build endurance and promotes mental and emotional recovery. No one is implying that we need to be athletic specimens but doing some very simple things can go a long way in setting the foundation for a happier, more productive and hence more successful self:

  • Make physical health a top priority. Just as high as your career aspirations. Get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 4 times a week to increase alertness and energy levels.
  • Make conscious efforts to “decouple” from your work every 90-120 minutes. Studies have shown that not only does this allow your mind and body time to recover, but reduces vulnerability to frustration and anxiety that build up without breaks form our work.
  • Pay attention to what and how often you eat. At the base level, we are what we eat. If we just grab the quickest, high calorie snack so we can keep working we set ourselves up for erratic blood sugar levels and inevitable crashes.
  • Get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. I have colleagues that are convinced that they only need a couple hours of sleep each night, but they also seem tired and out of shape whenever I see them and also seem unhappy with their career progressions.

At that base level, we live in these bodies. Without them we are going nowhere and can’t hope to create emotional, mental and spiritual strength.. So how can we ignore them?

Do you find yourself ignoring you physical capacity? How do you maintain it while balancing the demands of your career?

About the author: Heath

4 comments to “Physical Capacity: Hulk Out for Your Career!”

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  1. Harriet May - March 24, 2011 at 1:16 PM Reply

    I am naturally lazy, but exercising is so fulfilling if you really put effort in to it. I’m a runner, and I think non-runners overlook all of the benefits that come with it, beyond weight-management. But there is also the increases in your energy-level, mental stamina, the social aspect if you join a running group. It’s a goal-orientated activity that has nothing to do with work, which can be refreshing. It provides personal time to think about everything or nothing at all.

    I’m running my first half marathon next month and a part of me is terrified (even after years of running, I still get so nervous before races!) but I know it is so worth it. Plus, there are bragging rights. And tshirts.

  2. Heath - March 24, 2011 at 3:32 PM Reply

    Harriet, I couldn’t agree more. I took up running a couple of years ago, after telling myself and other for years that “I am not a runner, it would be too boring.” Then my wife got me into it. When we met she was into triathlons. Last year I did my first half marathon in the spring and did 2 more later that year. You’re right, running does give you a lot of energy and for me it gives me that time to sort through all the stuff in my head.

    Good luck with your half marathon. I get nervous before my races too, but those jitters all go away after that first mile is under my belt!

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