Richard Branson is one of the most iconic entrepreneurs in the world. The prominent English-born owner of the Virgin Group, which now controls over 400 companies, began his entrepreneurial journey in the 1970’s and has since built up a net worth of $5.2 billion. What started out as a modest mail-order record business evolved into a chain of record stores known as Virgin Records (and then Virgin Megastores from 1972). After a period of rapid growth Branson set up the Virgin Atlantic airline in the 1980’s. Richard received a knighthood for "services to entrepreneurship" in 2000, and in 2004 he founded the spaceflight corporation Virgin Galactic.
Branson has also dedicated a large portion of his life to philanthropy, and in 2013 he joined the long list of wealthy individuals involved in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, devoting half of his wealth to the cause. He’s also an author of many books, most notably ‘Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School’, ‘Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way’, and his latest release, ‘Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography’.
Richard Branson on making a habit of looking after your health as you get older
If there’s one thing that Branson is well-known for outside of the business world it is his commitment to health and fitness, particularly as he has gotten older. He has always stressed the importance of staying healthy in relation to his success and happiness.
“I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn't always placed importance on my health and fitness,” said Branson in one of his regular blog articles.
At the age of 67, Branson is still a staunch advocate of rising early to make sure he gets in a morning of exercise, whether it’s through a sport or gym session. Other than physical health reasons, he also stresses that this routine has helped him maintain a steady mental state.
"I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit, it keeps the brain functioning well,” said Branson in an interview during an event at his home on Necker Island.
How to stay fit and healthy like Sir Richard Branson
Branson has built this habit of daily morning exercise over the course of forty years as a businessman, proving that it definitely takes time to cement a habit into your lifestyle. With that said, there are a few achievable sub-habits you can adopt that will help you along in your development of a daily exercise routine.
1. Wake up and exercise first thing in the morning
We’ve explored the benefits to waking up early several times, and it’s no surprise that once again as a tendency of Mr. Branson. In the morning, distractions are at a minimum; it’s also the perfect time to get exercise out of the way and let you get on with your tasks.
Doing some exercise early in the day guarantees that you’ve at least stretched your legs and the release of endorphins early in the morning can set you up nicely for the day ahead. You can start a simple habit, for example, such as:
Do [insert exercise] for 10 minutes in the morning after you wake up
Sticking to the same exercise for the first few weeks will help, and as you get familiar with the routine you can increase the time gradually.
2. Initially, do an exercise or sport that you enjoy
Richard Branson actually supports the idea of doing an exercise that you enjoy above all else as it makes it much more likely that you’ll get out of bed and moving in the first place. What’s more, if you play a sport such as tennis or surfing you can do it with a friend or family member. You’ll find then that not only do you spend more time with people you care about, but that you may also hold each other accountable, and are therefore more likely to motivate each other to get your day started as soon as possible. You can therefore set a goal like:
Exercise with a partner 1 morning per week
You can start by arranging to do a sport or exercise with someone on just one morning each week. As you progress you can increase the number of days on which you workout with other people (and alternate workout partners themselves), and use that as a mechanism to try new sports or exercises.
3. Go to sleep earlier to ensure that you’re rested
Sleep is a highly discussed topic and it’s something that fluctuates greatly across a range of successful business people. Richard Branson himself suggests that getting to bed earlier and ensuring you’re rested will also increase the likelihood that you wake up and repeatedly work out before doing anything else. A good way to introduce this into your routine is to:
Move your bedtime 5 minutes earlier every day until reaches <<insert your target bedtime>>
A side effect of working out in the morning before work will be that you gradually feel more tired in the evening, and thus, feel more inclined to go to bed earlier. For more sleep-optimization tips, check out our other posts on the sleep habits of Tim Ferris and Arianna Huffington.
As always, each of these suggested habits throughout the above article can be copied into the Evolution 2 habit tracker. Just sign-up for your account here.