Woman ExercisingI am a health fanatic. I belong to Chris Stevenson’s Stevenson Fitness gym, and I also take CardioBarre® classes from Richard Giorla. I’m a lifelong dancer, and even now that I’m a busy entrepreneur and mother of four, I still make time to practice ballet for at least 1-1.5 hours per day.

Why do I spend so much time at the gym or at Cardio Barre® classes? Am I damaging my business or neglecting my family by taking so much time out of each day for exercise?

In fact, when you decide to start a business, I think you’ll find that taking good care of your health, physical stamina and mental energy is more important than ever before.

My engine doesn’t start unless I get into the gym and do an hour of some kind of physical activity. Going to fitness classes keeps me motivated and accountable for staying active – it helps when there’s a specific time and place where you have to show up, where people are expecting you. I also love the social aspects of taking a fitness class and learning new skills in a group environment. As entrepreneurs, we tend to become socially isolated and overly focused on work. Getting some regular exercise is a hugely important counterweight to the work-a-holic tendencies that are all too easy to develop when you’re running a business.

I believe that if you keep fit and stay mentally focused, it gives you a clearer path to profits, passion, purpose and ultimate success. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh wrote a great book about this, called “Delivering Happiness,” where he explores the issues of how we can achieve a purposeful, happy life that is meaningful to us. For me, staying physically active and healthy is part of creating a fulfilling life – and those feelings of fulfillment spill over into my work and business as well.

Something happens in your brain – whether it’s adrenaline, positive endorphins or the feeling of learning something new – when you get exercise and take a fitness class. I feel it kick in whenever I take a Cardio Barre® class with a room full of energized people and up-tempo music. I come out of every class feeling full of life, full of passion, ready to take on the world.

If you’re struggling with a problem in your business, chances are that getting some exercise will help a solution fall into place – I’ve seen it happen so many times in my own business career, where I’ll be struggling with a challenging situation, and then by taking time away from it, going to the gym and exercising, something jogs in my brain and I see the situation with new eyes.

Entrepreneurs need exercise. This is just as much of an important investment in running your business as choosing the right technology or office space or marketing strategy – you need to take care of your body, mind and spirit first.

How do you make time for exercise after you start a business? What are some of your favorite ways to unwind and re-energize as you go through your typical work week?