The importance of being healthy

Richard Branson celebrating getting to the top of a mountain
Image from the Virgin Strive Challenge
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 23 June 2019

I’m often asked what my motivation to take on challenges and stay fit is. If I don’t look after myself, I don’t enjoy myself. It’s as simple as that.

A post shared by Richard Branson (@richardbranson) on Jun 24, 2019 at 4:51am PDT

I find exercise the most natural and effective mood booster there is. You only have one body and one shot to look after it – and the older I get the more important I realise my health is. 

It’s great to see Virgin Pulse putting a spotlight on employee wellbeing this month. If people are feeling their best, they will be their most productive selves at work. Virgin Pulse are focusing on mental health this week and how to manage stress at work. They asked me what my tips are for staying healthy and happy.

Richard Branson and Sam Branson at Virgin Active South Africa
Image from Virgin Active South Africa

I make sure I find at least 60 minutes a day to focus on my health. Get up and get going, and make sure you do it regularly. If I don’t do that, I start becoming lethargic and I won’t be able to perform as well - and will end up ill.

Many people say they don’t have the time for exercise, and you’re right, you don’t have the time unless you make the time. You set your priorities, and unless your health is one of them, it can be easy to find something else to do that seems more important. The reality is, there is nothing more important than looking after yourself.

The only reason I’m able to do all the things I do and to keep on top of a busy schedule without getting too stressed is because I stay fit. 

Richard Branson sitting on top of a rock
Image from The Virgin Strive Challenge

When I wake up, usually around five or six am, I normally go and play a hard game of tennis with someone who is much better than me. It’s a good way of challenging myself and keeping me interested. I’m fortunate enough to live on an island, so if I want to do something different, I go for a kitesurf. I also head to the gym several times a week and do 40 minutes of weight lifting. I’ve only started doing this recently and I’m really impressed at how much stronger I feel and how much of a kick you can get out of seeing your own progress.

The key to being fit is finding exercise that you can easily build into your routine. If you make things too difficult for yourself then you may struggle to motivate yourself to actually do it and it won’t become part of your lifestyle. Go for a walk around the park with a friend instead of going to the pub, find the health club closest to your house, join a team sport, or do a quick HIIT workout in your living room with the help of a YouTube video. There are so many options – try a few and see what sticks.

If I’m travelling, I make sure I walk as much as I can throughout the day, take the stairs wherever possible and eat fresh, unprocessed food with lots of fruit and veggies. You are as active as you choose to be. 

I’d love to know your tips for keeping healthy this employee wellbeing month.