Being successful in the world of business isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming, demanding and, at times, stressful and all-consuming. And yet, if you want to be truly successful in business, you need to look beyond the walls of your office. You need to look to your health and fitness as well.
If you look at the truly successful executives out there – like Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson – one thing they all have in common is that they work hard, not just in the office, but also in the gym, pool, cycling track, or jogging path. They eat healthily, and for all the stress they endure, they don’t neglect the importance of sleep.
Why is exercise important to business success?
Exercise fulfils a number of key roles that help business leaders excel at their work. Firstly – and most importantly – it makes you happy and content with life. The chemicals that are released by the body through exercise are all proven to be great at curbing stress levels and improving happiness. Take serotonin, for example. Serotonin is one of the products of exercise, and has been scientifically proven to reduce depression, regulate anxiety, and improve focus.
If there are any qualities that you desperately need in business leadership, it’s the ability to be focused over long periods, while also being a calming influence within the office. There’s a clear natural synergy between the kind of person that exercise makes you, and the kind of person that your office needs you to be.
Why is food important to business success?
A business leader will usually start work very early – they’ll be the first in the office, often only a little after daybreak… and that’s after they’ve already checked in on critical overnight emails before leaving home.
By lunchtime, comfort foods such as oily burgers and fried chicken can start to look really good, but the highest performing CEOs will play it much smarter than that. As research shows, some foods are best avoided because the boost they give post-lunch wears off quickly (pasta, bread and cereals all provide very short-term energy boosts), while others are best avoided because they cause the digestive system to work too hard, meaning less oxygen reaches the brain and can leave the person feeling a bit groggy.
Therefore, to get the best productivity boost, an executive will graze on healthy snacks (nuts and fruits), and then ensure that their lunch is balanced and healthy. The research shows that those that consume more fruits and vegetables are happier and more creative, which in turn makes them better leaders.
Why is sleep important to business success?
Everyone knows that, firstly, sleep is critical. Secondly, everyone can feel themselves underperforming if they don’t get enough sleep. Of the three – exercise, food, sleep – sleep is the most self-evidently important to a person’s ability to do their job well. It’s a wonder more executives don’t pay attention to it!
And yet, that’s exactly what happens. Executives get up early, work themselves to the bone, and then crawl into bed late at night, before struggling to get to sleep, because work is still on the brain. This can become a cycle of sleep deprivation that is hard to break.
The solution to this is to take sleep seriously and plan for it as part of your daily routine. Making sure that you firstly, get enough sleep, and then, secondly, that it’s good quality sleep.
According to Success.com, there are a couple of things that you can do to maximise the value of sleep.
- Keep it to a schedule. This includes weekends. If you condition your body to sleep for specific hours, then your body rhythms will accommodate that schedule, resulting in better sleep. If you sleep in until 10am on a weekend, however, your body will find it harder to reach deep sleep.
- Don’t exercise late. Going to the gym a couple of hours before bedtime is going to upset your body’s circadian rhythms, making it harder to have good quality rest.
- Try eating on a 12-hour clock. Late dinners and midnight snacking actually results in metabolic issues for the body, which hurts the quality of sleep and results in easy weight gain.
- Try and get away from technology before sleep. The lights that technology produce actually work to suppress melatonin, which is the sleep-inducing hormone. If you absolutely must use technology for the last couple of hours before bed, try and use technology that has a ‘night mode’, which will filter out the standard ‘blue lights’ of technology.
- Finally, get away from work before bed. It’s important that the body has a chance to push work out of mind so that you’re not dwelling on it as you try and sleep. Give yourself a couple of hours before bed to indulge hobbies or other non-work related activities to give the mind some time off.
Strong and healthier for yourself (and your business)
The stronger and healthier you are, the stronger and healthier your business will be. Taking the time to concentrate on your fitness and wellbeing might at times seem like a distraction from the pile of work that needs to be done, but over the long term, you’ll achieve a lot more if you’re approaching it from a state of perennial freshness.