With Noah Krol, owner and operator of Peg City Yoga and the Sivatantra Yoga Teacher Training program in Winnipeg

Why is it important for executives to integrate exercise into their daily routines?

No matter what you do, your body needs to exercise, period. Exercise helps to sustain, nourish and increase your body and mind’s capacity to function at a higher, more efficient intensity. In the workplace, and in life more generally, we are often faced with a multitude of stressors, which have the opposite effect on the body. Regular exercise helps to balance the negative impact of distress — the unhealthy stress — by imposing a eustress, which is regarded as a healthy type of stress, because it stimulates you in ways that are necessary for growth and development, mentally and physically.

What should be considered regular?

There is no blanket answer to that one, because it depends on factors that vary from person to person — the desired results, current activity levels, and schedule. I would suggest that more important than frequency itself is consistency. Whether it’s three days per week or five days per week, structured exercise regimes will far better serve you than setting unrealistic or unsustainable expectations. One of the advantages, particularly for busy and traveling executives, is that exercise now comes in so many various forms, it can be tailored to fit into literally anybody’s lifestyle. Specific equipment isn’t required, nor is a gym necessarily. You can even exercise in the comfort of your hotel room! There is no good excuse for not taking care of yourself anymore.

What are some of the more popular trends in fitness?

Yoga for both genders and all ages, as well as Cross Fit, have surged in popularity over the last few years. These offer a good spectrum of what’s ‘trending’ and each allow for customization based on flexibility, strength, and endurance in a single session — maximizing the time allotted, while hitting three major pillars of wellness. The use of online training software and apps is also on the rise due to their accessibility and how easily they ‘fit’ into changing or demanding time constraints. Although many of these ‘technological advancements’ offer quality instruction, there is no substitute for proper coaching with a professional who can watch your movements and provide feedback on safety and technique.

How do you know what type of exercise is right for you?

Assess your weaknesses within your levels of flexibility, strength, and endurance, and then prioritize your fitness plan with a higher volume of training dedicated to improving upon your weakest areas. You can do this yourself, or — better yet — seek direction from a personal trainer. From there, ask yourself what activities you will enjoy doing. If you know running is hard on your knees or hips, but you perceive your ‘weakness’ to be cardio and endurance, try swimming, an elliptical machine, or a spin bike — facilities and equipment that are reasonably available near or at every home, workplace, and hotel. Add in some variety, though, to keep it challenging and interesting in a way that keeps you coming back. It doesn’t need to be a chore for you to work out. It can be fun, too.

There will, however, be certain variances in your fitness and nutritional regimens depending on your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. If you want to build muscle and add mass, you will likely need to eat more calories than you burn. And if you simply want to improve your overall health, you will need a plan that incorporates elements from both outcome strategies. Even 20-30 minutes can make a life-changing difference.

Okay, I’ve made a plan, but now how do I stay motivated?

You are responsible for your own motivation and commitment to your exercise program, just like you are for everything else in your life — your relationships, your career, your finances, and every aspect in between. That will look different for all of us. Some find a workout ‘buddy’ sparks accountability, some find that buying a monthly pass to a local gym, Cross Fit, or yoga centre is the answer (financial guilt!). Others build it into their existing routine by using it as a chance to think through problems or catch up on the news. I know quite a few people who keep exercise journals, and who have joined online groups. Maybe it needs to be the first thing you do in the morning, before you become distracted with other things, or the first thing you do after work to avoid rush hour traffic. The list is endless. It may be trial and error. But whatever you do try, keep in mind it is an investment — in your health, in your quality of life, and in your future. You can only expect to see the return if you put in the time and effort.