I'm no stranger to on-the-job stress.

When I was a president at a major insurance company with $5.2 billion under my watch, you can bet I worked hard. You can bet I lost sleep. You can bet there were days I stressed over the 28,000 employees who called me their boss.

That kind of work takes a toll on your mind, body, and family life. And research backs up our fears. You actually can work yourself to death. That's a scary thought for many business owners--we often pride ourselves on our ability to push beyond normal limits.

And while you'll need to work hard to make it to the top, make sure you don't overdo it. Watch out for these three ways you can damage your health if you aren't careful.

1. The Not-So-Glamorous Side of Travel

I worked as a consultant at McKinsey for 12 years. That's a lot travel. Sometimes I still dream I'm standing in line at airport security. Unfortunately, researchers have since shown that travel is bad news for your body.

You've heard of the biological clock? It's the thing that tells you when to sleep and when to wake up and it's not a metaphor. In 2001, scientists at the University of Utah identified the actual genes that set your clock. These genes set the time by controlling the chemistry of your blood.

Since this discovery, there has been a flood of research showing that when you skimp on sleep or alter your schedule by flying around the world, you actually mess up your blood's chemistry.

Let me to say the obvious. Messing up your blood chemistry is bad. The health consequences of frequent travel include...

  • Increase risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Accelerated aging.
  • Blood clots.

So what can you do if traveling less isn't an option? Luckily, there's hope. Experts weighing in on the trouble of business travel recommend common sense precautions:

  • Exercise on the road.
  • Pack healthy food.
  • Walk in the airports.
  • Start a system for managing your stress.

2. Don't Just Sit There

Researchers from LSU and Harvard have found that sitting too much during the day can actually take two years off your life. Now, I'm guessing that most of you reading this are sitting down right now. So take my advice: stand up.

More than just standing up, move around. Another study found - perhaps unsurprisingly - that increased physical activity results in a better mood and ability to handle stress, as well as better long-term cognitive functions.

Doctors recommend that you stand up regularly throughout the workday. Take breaks to walk around the office. And if you're up for it, invest in a standing desk or something else that will get your blood flowing, like Cubii, an under-desk elliptical.

Standing and moving throughout the day help boost your body's metabolism. Standing and moving force you to use more energy and stay more alert, which can improve your health and productivity.

3. Longer hours = Shorter Life

Working long hours can lead to all the same sleeplessness and stress that comes with traveling. The Guardian reports that if you keep a 55-hour work week, your risk of stroke is increased 33 percent.

I'll let you in on an open secret. I've worked a lot of 55-hour weeks. I've worked a lot of longer weeks. That comes with being an entrepreneur. Regardless how many hours you log, though, it's crucial to maintain other areas of your life.

If I can offer you one piece of advice it's this: prioritize time with your family. My staff knows that I might be out of the office on Friday afternoons if I'm traveling with my son or daughter's hockey team. They know I'm slower to answer emails on my kids' birthdays.

There's no replacement for long hours when you're starting a business. But don't lose sight of why you started the business in the first place. Researchers have shown that making time for the people you care about can actually help counteract the damage stress can cause.

Entrepreneurs have a tendency to think they're supermen and superwomen. They are. But you're still vulnerable to the things that affect us all. Learning to balance work and life is a key part to having a better career, improving your life, and connecting with your family.