What’s a new job requirement for CEOs these days? It’s not a fancy degree or years of experience. It’s having killer abs!

New research shows that an executive’s leadership ability is increasingly judged by the size of their waistline!

Researchers analyzed performance reviews and health-screening results from 700 CEOs and senior managers across North America.

The result? The bigger the executive’s waistline and BMI, the less effective they were perceived - in both performance and interpersonal skills – by their peers, and by their staff!

And experts say that’s a shocking change because  head honchos used to be expected to spend practically every spare second at work – leaving little time for family and fun, never mind a bench press session! But today, executives are increasingly expected to juggle their work responsibilities and stay fit. Why?

First: Experts say that most people associate being overweight with weakness, being lazy, and making bad decisions – traits that definitely aren’t leadership qualities. So if a company hires an overweight CEO – even if he has a stellar track record – investors and clients, even his staff, may perceive him negatively.

Also, CEOs today have to be ready for their close-up at any moment. That’s because they’re constantly photographed for their company’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram account. Everything from talking with investors at conventions or launching new products.

And the new findings are causing a lot of executives to sprint into action, literally. Like Panera Bread founder and co-CEO Ron Shaich. He recently hired a trainer, and started exercising 3 days a week. He credits the workouts for making him look leaner, and also boosting his energy and focus at work.