Study: Intense exercise may reduce entrepreneurs’ stress, increase job satisfaction

Entrepreneurs live emotionally taxing lifestyles, but a Ball State University researcher believes rigorous exercise can reduce stress while increasing job satisfaction.

An analysis of 472 small-business owners in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky found that entrepreneurs are replacing the golf course with high intensity exercise programs like Cross Fit and weight training.

“In today’s society, health and fitness are given a lot publicity,” said Michael G. Goldsby, the Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ball State. “Advertisements, magazine articles, and television shows trumpet the benefits of exercise and encourage people to undertake a fitness regimen.

“I’ve observed that many entrepreneurs are taking up more intense athletic activities because they feel the need to ramp up the intensity of their workouts to reduce stress,” he said. “They need something that leaves them soaking in sweat after about an hour, which isn’t something you can do on a golf course by hitting a ball four or five times and then riding in a cart to the next hole.”

Goldsby was part of a multi-university team that produced “An Examination of the Effect of Exercise on Stress and Satisfaction for Entrepreneurs,” recently published by the Journal of Leadership and Management. The team also included Donald F. Kuratko, an entrepreneurship professor at Indiana University, and Christopher Neck, a business professor at Arizona State University.

Researchers asked participants what exercises they were doing along with the amount of time committed on a daily and weekly basis. Based on standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers created seven categories in the order of difficulty: weight training, competitive sports, aerobics, running, cycling, walking, and yoga.

An exercise intensity score was then generated by multiplying the intensity category by the frequency of the activity by the length of the session.

Participants with the highest scores reported the lowest stress levels, the study found.

“For participants, high intensity exercise and the hours it took is time well spent because stress levels are down,” Goldsby said. “They are ready to get to work, which brings them a great deal of satisfaction.”

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