When we’re preparing to deliver our idea into the world, to take the leap and launch our new business, we’re often swimming in research.
We read, interview and comb through information on business entities, equity structuring, managing a team, marketing and financial projections. But what we often neglect is one of the core elements to our business’s success – ourselves.
Think about it. For a startup or early-stage company, we as founders hold the majority of the responsibility for whether or not our business will thrive. So why, when founders have often achieved a certain level of success up to this point, do they often neglect their bodies and mental health?
One of the great myths of founding a business is the idea that we have to deeply sacrifice our individual lives to get something off the ground. This is simply untrue, and as you’ll see, some of the most successful founders are those who prioritize their physical and mental health while launching and growing their businesses.
Can You Afford Not To?
“Being healthy, being fit, living this lifestyle is something that just makes sense,” says Micah Shoemaker, Co-Owner of Iron Tribe Fitness Raleigh and Cary. “It’s something you can’t afford not to do. If you look at your body as a vehicle of getting from A to B, and you believe that people are what build businesses, living a healthy life is something that just makes sense.”
Why Fitness Matters in Business
In the American ecomony alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee.
“In this sense,” says Shoemaker, “entrepreneurs can’t afford not to be there. It’s a very practical thing. It makes sense that you take care of yourself. There are other benefits, yes – sleep, mental health, etc. – but let’s start with the main one…being healthy and able to work.”
Physical activity impacts you and your employees’ working time in both the short term and long term. Regular exercise boosts immunity, helping fight off colds and viruses in the short term while also preventing chronic, long term disease including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Time management and productivity is one of the hottest topics in business books and articles. While these resources focus on hacks for workflow and scheduling, they often leave out a crucial piece of the puzzle – the health of the person producing work.
A study published in the journal Population Health Management shows that eating unhealthily is linked with a 66 percent increased risk of loss of productivity, while rare exercise is linked with a 50 percent increased risk of low productivity.
Because exercise increases the flow of blood to our brains, even a small amount of physical activity can increase our awareness and help us stay more alert.
Fueling Your Mind
Our brains require fuel to run, and that fuel comes in the form of food. What we choose to put into our bodies (and leave out) has a significant impact on our clarity and focus, directly impacting the quality and quantity of our work.
Countless articles have been written on the benefits of certain super-foods for brain health. Let’s take one example here. According to one study, published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, blueberries boost concentration and memory for up to five hours because the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to [your] brain – and keep the mind fresh.
Nutritional psychiatry is a growing field, and we can expect the correlations between our nutrition and our mental health to only grow and deepen over time.
Sluggish or Ready to Go?
“I’m in a coworking space and there’s often a line to heat up microwave dinners,” says Mike Doyle of Drive 80. “I’m at the stove reheating the food I prepared for the week. The food we use for fuel makes a huge difference in our energy levels and mental state, and routine is crucial. The discipline of being healthy advances the
discipline of running a business.”