There is plenty of research detailing what exercise does to our brains as well as our bodies, and a recent study from Stanford supports the idea that even just going for a walk can spur creativity. Most of us know that if we just set aside that half hour every morning we'd be more alert, productive, and at ease during the work day—even as many of us regularly skip it.
But Lisa Stone, cofounder and CEO of 100 million-reaching content network BlogHer, puts that walk first every day, regardless of how little time it feels like she has outside of her company and three children. "When you're running a company, running an initiative, writing a book, creating a piece of art, you've gotta respond," she says. "So every day I start with at least an hour of walking or running. Even though it's hard to find the time and motivation, I'm so much smarter and more creative when I do it, I won't even risk not doing it anymore."
Here are three excuses that Stone has found ways to eliminate, making that daily commitment a little easier to keep:
Sure, you may only need to exercise for 30 minutes to see benefits, but what about all that wasted time in the car, or getting to an ideal spot to walk or run? "We bought a wireless, commercial-grade LifeCycle treadmill," says Stone. "It's in the garage, and takes up a whole car space. My boys, my better half, and I all use it. I don't have to get to the gym or worry about what I look like. I can bunny slipper." Even if you don't have the space or the budget for gym-grade equipment, the idea is that leaving your house and the preparation or commute it requires should not be a prerequisite for daily exercise. Yoga DVDs, YouTube classes, or a jump rope can all do the trick.
Think that traveling for work means you can never find a consistent time or place to exercise? Think again. "If I take a red-eye to New York for a 10 a.m. meeting, and I land at 6 a.m., I will walk in JFK in my tennis shoes for an hour before I get on the AirTrain," says Stone. The best part about walking is that you can do it anywhere—and airport terminals' endless corridors are ideal for it in any weather. Plan your workouts into the daily schedule of upcoming work trips before you leave.
Let's disregard for a minute the fact that endorphins have a proven calming effect on the brain—some people will still be too conscious of the time. But exercise, particularly getting outside, can also help you see and discover things that can help you keep priorities and frustrations in check. "When I go into a meeting with someone who I think doesn't understand what we're trying to do for women at the grassroots level at BlogHer, and I've passed a homeless person on my walk, or I've had a chance to see the sun come up, it puts a bad idea or a difficult personality in perspective," says Stone. "Having been a hard news reporter, it helps me remember that no one has died as a part of my daily work at BlogHer, so let's just bring it down a notch."