We all know - intellectually at least - the benefits of a balanced diet and exercise to our over-all health and well-being. They serve to: lower the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and strokes, reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and stress, boost the immune system and brain function.
Generally speaking though, this is a business blog. I share information, tips and techniques you can use to aid you in your career journey. What does your health have to do with your success? A great deal, as it turns out. Here are my Top 3 reasons why you should focus on Improving your Health to increase your Success:
1. I've written in this blog before about the benefits of focusing on increasing the energy you bring to your tasks in order to heighten your productivity, as opposed to focusing on strengthening your organizational skills to get more done. (see: Turning Energy into Time, March, 2010). Research is now conclusively demonstrating that the quality of the energy we put into our tasks and activities has a direct correlation to the quality of the output. Want to accomplish more in less time? Forget about managing your time better, manage your energy better! The healthier you are (through effective nutrition and exercise), the higher the quality of energy you bring to your tasks. Tasks don't drag out as long, you don't waste as much time trying to motivate yourself to get started (yep, procrastination has some foundations in energy as well!) and you're able to stick to tasks a little longer.
2. Guess what? You're smarter when you're healthier. No... your IQ doesn't increase, but your mental acuity, your clarity and focus of thought is heightened. In short... you make better decisions when you are rested, healthy and alert. Yes, I know this seems to make common sense, but we don't tend to openly acknowledge that what we put into our bodies, what we do to our bodies, has an impact on the quality of our thoughts and decisions, and we certainly don't hear about it as a strategy for improving our success. A resucent study showed a definitive correlation between good nutrition and cognitive performance finding; nutrient markers in the blood accounted for 17% of the variation in the tests of thinking and memory function, nutrition accounting for 37% of the variation in brain volume. Ever had a hangover? Were you at your most productive, most decisive at that moment? Extreme example perhaps, but it does serve to illustrate what happens to our productivity when our brain is deprived of the nutrients it needs to function efficiently. Even a small deprivation every day can have a cumulative impact on your overall efficiency and effectiveness over the long term.
3. Statistics show that 'fit' people get promoted faster and further than 'fat' people. Now, the definition of each of the terms fit and fat are based simply in the perception of the observer, but those qualifications are made by us all of the time (whether we openly acknowledge it or not). Certainly we speak about this issue in my Executive and Leadership Presence seminars, because it matters. How you look makes a difference to how people perceive you. Studies show that the more overweight you are, the less people trust in your ability to get things done. (note that this is regardless of whether you actually get things done or not). Additionally, people are attracted to positive energy. People rarely are motivated to follow those that can't seem to muster up much enthusiasm for what they're doing. Instead, they seek to follow those who have energy to spare, those who seem like they can not only get the task at hand accomplished, but have the energy to keep going, to continue the drive forward. This helps earn you the 'leader' title and helps get you the promotion.
For those of you that may find your New Year's resolutions to 'lose weight' or to 'get fit' flagging at this point in the New Year - use the above to provide you with more incentive to stay the course and not abandon your efforts. There is more riding on your efforts than you may have first thought... your career just may depend on it!