The best physical activity for busy executives, according to an exercise scientist


Executive clients have a unique lifestyle that must be considered when developing a training strategy.

Taking the time to personalise the training strategy to the client’s needs ensures the program can and will be adhered to by the individual.

There is no such thing as the best program for everyone, just the right program for the individual.

Designing a training program around the FITT principle will ensure it encompasses the key variables: frequency, intensity, time and type.


I advise executive clients to allocate time to exercise six days week — setting the expectation of training mostly every day, but there’s the fallback of Sunday if needed.

When there are three or four exercise days in a busy work week, it’s easy to push the sessions back until later in the week, to the point where it never happens and the plan resets for the following week.


Three or four training sessions should be hard, exertion to the point of losing their breath and sweating.

The goal of sweating every day is useful in the early stages of a fitness regime, but may need to focus on hitting a time or weight targets as fitness builds.

The remaining sessions can be low-moderate intensity such as walking or riding and can be combined with an audiobook or phone calls, if necessary.


I set 30 to 60-minute training sessions for executive clients, with the duration inversely proportional to training intensity.

In the early stages when intensity cannot be maintained at a high level during the entire session, we simply drop the intensity and continue to train out the 30-minute session.

Despite the decrease from the original training intensity, this allows more work to be completed than if the session was simply ended.


A solid executive training program includes two resistance training sessions in the gym or using bodyweight training, alongside two cardio sessions that might be a steady-state walk/run/ride or an interval class in the gym.

The rest of the program can be filled in with training specific to the client’s goals, sports or other activities.

Not all six days need to include intense training sessions — a couple of 30-minute morning walks when busy or adjusting to a time difference help get out there when intense training might not be an option.

While walking might not be moving the needle on fitness, it is getting them moving and allocating time to exercise, which helps develop and maintain a solid exercise routine.

Tom Fitzgerald is a nutritionist and exercise scientist specialising in body recomposition. See more at Integrated Fitness & Nutrition.

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