Do these scenarios sound familiar? You've got a meeting in the afternoon, so you decide to work through lunch rather than take a break. You skip the gym to finish up a client proposal and stay up late to cram in some extra work. Staying healthy is hard for everyone, but it's especially challenging for entrepreneurs. You might feel guilty taking time for yourself to work on anything that doesn't add to your business's bottom line, but your health isn't about just you. As the leader of your company, it affects your employees and the success of your business. Here are just a few ways getting healthy can positively affect you and your team:
Less stress means better decision making. According to a Gallup poll, 45 percent of entrepreneurs report feeling stress "yesterday." Studies show that stress can inhibit decision making and impair judgment--a sure recipe for disaster. Luckily, exercise has been shown to decrease the harmful effects of stress.
Mindfulness reduces your risk of burnout. Scientists have found that exercise can also increase mindfulness, which improves your mood, concentration, and sleep quality. A recent study showed that an increase in mindfulness also decreases anxiety, depression, and burnout, specifically among business leaders and entrepreneurs.
A healthier you equals a healthier team. Everyone knows exercise helps your immune system fight off certain illnesses. You will not only bring less sickness into your office, but you'll also set a good example for your employees. By making your own health a priority, you give your team permission to take care of themselves, too.
A focus on health improves employee retention. Studies show that a workplace focused on health increases employee engagement and leads to a higher level of job satisfaction. The leader plays a large role in creating that environment by focusing on his or her health.
Make Health a Priority--for You and Your Company
Investing in your own health is the first step toward building a stronger organization, but there are plenty of ways to encourage healthy practices within your company, too.
Establish group fitness goals or activities. Start a baseball team at work, or create a fun competition to see who can walk the most steps or log the most workouts in a month. Windsor Hanger Western, co-founder and president of Her Campus Media, established #WorkoutWednesday in place of casual Friday, when employees are encouraged to wear their workout clothes to work. Publicly making fitness a priority encourages a healthy culture.
Find a program that subsidizes fitness activities. Provide your employees with a program like MINDBODY Exchange, which allows you to subsidize healthy activities through employees' FSA/HSA benefits.
Subsidize fitness devices. Help cover the cost of UP by Jawbone or a Fitbit product to help employees track their fitness. You can also invest in standing desks to counteract the harmful effects of sitting all day.
Participate in health initiatives. The most important motivator for your employees is seeing you get in shape. Your personal commitment to being healthy is the best way to demonstrate that you're interested in their well-being. If you subsidize a wearable fitness device for employees, use one yourself. Make your workouts public through your wellness software, and take part in group fitness activities. Don't answer emails at 2 a.m. (when you should be sleeping), and don't expect your employees to, either. If you're overwhelmed by the idea of getting in shape, think small. Use an app like Pact to remind yourself to eat more vegetables, or set an alarm on your phone to take a five-minute walk around the block. Like any big changes, the ones made gradually are most likely to stick. When you feel yourself slipping into unhealthy behaviors to "work on the business" or get more things done, remember that your health is not about just you. Your health impacts your team and the success of your business as a whole.