Everyone knows that running, like any form of exercise, is good for you. Science agrees: Running makes you happier. Helps you stay mentally sharp. Helps you burn more calories, even after your workout is done.

And then there's this: A recent meta-study using data gathered from over 230,000 participants found that a little low-speed running lowered the participants' risk of early death from all causes by 27 percent.

But wait, there's more: Running reduced the risk of death from all types of cancer by 23 percent, and from cardiovascular disease by 30 percent.

Why? Researchers cite the usual benefits: positive effects on heart health, blood pressure, body weight, stress levels, etc.

I know what you're thinking: Correlation isn't causation. Maybe the people who ran didn't get healthier; their baseline may have been healthier because they were already active and health-conscious.

But that's just an excuse. We all start somewhere. Making positive changes, no matter where we start, results in positive outcomes. People who run tend to live longer because they exercise more than those who don't. 

And not by a lot. The study shows that jogging 40 to 50 minutes a week, at a 10- to 12-minute mile pace, is sufficient. (In fact, the research showed that running longer or faster didn't further reduce the risk of death from any causes.)

The same is true for most things.

If you're a leader, research shows that managers who meet with new employees on their first day to talk about roles and responsibilities, schedule regular check-ins, etc., get their new hires up to speed a month faster than those who don't. 

If you're in sales, research shows that "average" salespeople make significantly more sales calls during the last month of a quarter than the first two--and with a much lower success rate. Top performers are consistent: They make a similar number of calls, day after day after day.

If you want to get more done, Oprah Winfrey starts every meeting by asking, "What is our intention for this meeting? What's important? What matters?" High performers constantly seek clarity. They sift out distractions to focus on what is important.

Leaders who consistently talk with their direct reports tend to be more successful. Salespeople who consistently make high-quality sales calls tend to be more successful. People who consistently--constantly--seek clarity and focus tend to be more successful.

Just as people who run regularly tend to live longer.

We're all busy. We all work hard. The difference lies in doing the right things. The difference lies in working hard to accomplish the things that matter most.

The simple, even obvious things. 

Pick a goal you want to accomplish, then break it down into daily activities:

  • If you want to grow your business, call five prospects every day
  • If you want to build your network, connect with three people every day
  • If you want build better relationships, check in with one friend or family member every day

Then do it.

Because what you are is what you do--day after day after day.