Why a good physical condition is beneficial for project managers

As a project manager, health and well-being are crucial factors for optimal performance. You can increase your mental resilience by creating space for rest and actively looking after your physical resources. A healthy and balanced diet, sufficient exercise and abstaining from addictive substances such as alcohol and nicotine have a positive effect. It is important to take care of yourself and not to disregard your own constitution. Being self-aware helps you to be successful in the long term and to make your projects a success. 
A board with fruit and vegetables on it.


Connection between health and work performance

"We should pray for a sound mind in a sound body" ("orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano") said the Roman poet Juvenal almost two thousand years ago, and in 1948 the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health as "A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Physical and mental health are good and important, but unfortunately, they are not enough to be fully productive. To achieve full performance, health must be complemented by cognitive abilities (Latin: cognoscere - to know, to recognize) and mindfulness.

Human cognitive abilities include
  • attention,
  • memory,
  • learning,
  • creativity,
  • planning,
  • orientation and
  • imagination.
The movement of our body and the training of our brain support us in this. If we are then embedded in an intact social environment, there is hardly anything standing in the way of a healthy life. By the way, it should be mentioned that all these factors are also helpful in avoiding or coping with stress.
This is also where mindfulness comes in: Someone who pays attention to his health and abilities can be efficient and do his work carefully and well.

Advantages of a good physical and mental condition for project managers

Anyone who has ever been confronted as a project manager with stressful body signals such as tension, tension headaches, lack of concentration, back problems or dizzy spells knows about the challenges that come with this in all kinds of project management work areas. The spectrum of physical and psychological effects ranges from absenteeism due to illness to stress in the project team. Of course, no one is immune to a flu-like infection or tonsillitis, but a good physical and mental condition strengthens resilience and performance. The result would be a higher quality of life, but also the ability to survive difficult situations and crises in the project without permanent limitations.
For project managers, it is a matter of elementary prerequisites that make it easier or possible to cope with the often difficult and challenging situations of project work. Every project manager has limited resilience and needs adequate recovery time after a strenuous period, but when invigorated, they have more energy and are more persistent. Sport has been shown to boost memory and health, and the more resilient a project manager is, the better they can cope with the pressure and the statutory recovery time is sufficient to get them going again the next day.
The improved physical constitution also gives the project manager the ability to keep a clear head and overview in stressful situations, as strengthening and endurance lead to improved concentration and focus. The project manager is more robust and better able to make good decisions even in the face of unpredictable events. He is more balanced, which incidentally also strengthens his social skills and teamwork.

Tips for project managers to maintain a good physical constitution

A good physical constitution can enable a project manager to stay in control. Professionally, he designs project plans with his team; privately, he plans for himself and his personal environment by consciously scheduling and implementing times for his personal training.

Integrate fitness into the daily routine

Project managers should pay attention to their physical, mental, and spiritual fitness. Physical fitness can include strength and endurance sports, relaxation and stretching exercises. It should also be noted that abstaining from addictive substances has a positive effect on mental health. However, "mental fitness" is supported above all by a healthy diet, regular exercise, sufficient rest and sleep and a regular daily routine. A project manager may not always have the same daily routine, but he can create a regular daily routine through planning. It is equally important that a project manager schedules time for his social relationships and consciously makes time for them. With the right approach, all these points can be taken into account to achieve extraordinary things with the right time management and prioritisation.

Healthy diet and balanced nutrition

What is good for athletes in terms of nutrition is also good for project managers. So here are some tips from the athletes' corner. 
Nutrition includes not only eating, but also drinking. That's why it's important to listen to your body's signals and eat and drink regularly, at least two litres of water a day.
Good carbohydrates are important and therefore the muscles must be supplied with preferably whole grain products, starchy vegetables and pseudo-cereals. A good example is the pseudocereal amaranth. It has a lot of protein, minerals and trace elements, and of all the pseudo-cereals it has the highest content of fibre, protein as well as calcium, iron and magnesium. 
As a general rule, athletes eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and a banana for a quick energy boost.

Prioritise rest and sleep

If you work and are active, you will get tired. Rest and sleep are essential for project managers to stay physically and mentally fit. A sufficiently long and deep sleep allows the body to recover and regenerate, which in turn leads to more energy and concentration during the day. Therefore, attention should be paid to regular rest periods and sufficient sleep in order to work more effectively and to better cope with challenges and stressful situations. Short breaks and relaxation exercises can also help to regenerate the body and relax the mind. Those who consciously take time for these important rest breaks can maintain their physical and mental fitness and thus remain productive in the long term. Timely and regular rest and sleep should therefore be at the top of your personal priority list.

Stress management

All individuals are constantly exposed to stressors of some kind, i.e., they are constantly under stress, but this does not necessarily have to be perceived as a burden. Moreover, stress is sometimes necessary for survival, because it enables us to be more efficient in many situations. However, this performance is only guaranteed as long as the stress reaction is not too strong or lasts too long, i.e., the person is not exposed to a permanent state of alert. 
Frederic Vester vividly describes the phenomenon of stress: "Stress is the motor of life and evolution and it is a phenomenon that helps, saves, inspires, regulates, balances, distorts, makes ill, makes unhappy and even kills.“
With appropriate fitness, the condition can be used as a protective shield to counteract the stress stimuli that have built up in the short term. Long-term, disease-causing stress, however, requires more. For the simple reason that stress-related illnesses are unfortunately very common among project managers, and that this is a reaction to the stress caused by, among other things, competitive pressure, frequent travel, job-related relocation, constant pressure to perform and constant time pressure. But how to deal with stress that has built up over the long term? The answer is: as a project manager, actively manage stress, because this skill is part of your qualification profile. 
Put simply, stress can come from
  • the environment,
  • the task and
  • personal condition.  
When coping with stress, it should be noted that there are two types of stress:
  • positive stress (eustress) and
  • negative stress (Distress). 
Eustress stimulates and challenges in a pleasant way. Distress, on the other hand, becomes a factor of illness when the organism is on constant alert, when all activities and the circumstances associated with them are perceived as a burden and failure is the order of the day. 
Stress can be divided into the categories avoidable, limited avoidable and unavoidable and then the individual events that trigger stress can be assigned to the areas of
  • environment, 
  • task or 
  • person. 


Private conflicts can often be assigned to the environment as avoidable, lack of skills is more likely to be classified as limited avoidable in tasks and the death of a friend would certainly be assigned to the unavoidable stress and the area of person.
The constantly increased stress level must be brought back to a normal level through appropriate stress management strategies. Peak performance can only be achieved by consciously dealing with one's body.


As a project manager, you should make sure that you treat yourself well and treat yourself mindfully. Just as you can analyse, plan and control your project and your project team, you can also analyse, plan and control your body, your psyche and your environment. You can use your knowledge of project and self-management to achieve good and sustainable results while being mindful of your own performance. A conscious and mindful approach to your own well-being contributes in the long term to successfully completing your projects and achieving your personal goals.

Physical condition project manager - The Author
Author: Dr. Roland Ottmann
Keywords: Project management, Self-management

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