Photo by Thinkstock

Photo by Thinkstock

The ‘Health’ of Your Business Starts With You

Are you making time for exercise? Are you eating healthy?  Are you leaving work at a reasonable time to spend time with your family and friends?

From that headline, you’re expecting another column about the financial health of your business You’re right, but it’s with a TWIST.
Attending a recent industry conference, it was interesting to see that the most successful contractors who spoke were all trim, vibrant and appeared to be in the peak of health. Many of the entrepreneurs attending this conference are very successful or working hard to get there, and most of them are really working on their personal health as well as the health of their businesses.

The Facts
This made me curious about the correlation between business success and good physical health. And here’s a fact:
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical movement can affect the brain’s physiology by increasing cerebral capillary growth, blood flow, oxygenation, growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus (center of learning and memory), neurotransmitter levels (more connectors in the brain), development of nerve connections, density of neural network (more pathways for connections in the brain) and brain tissue volume. The benefits of these changes in the brain are associated with improved attention, reduced sensations of cravings and pain, improved judgment and more.

Lead by example. Make fitness a game. Hold low-calorie cooking contests. Encourage walking. All of these can help employees improve their health.


Successful people have enhanced decision making abilities, more positive attitudes and aren’t controlled by addictive behaviors. This research also seems to have direct implications for the employees of your company. What if better health and more physical activity could improve the decision making, attitudes and “hang-over” Monday effect for your employees. That alone could improve the financial performance of your business. However, there are more direct financial implications. Again, a few facts:  

Gallup Poll, 2011: “Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers — resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually.”

And, here’s one of the most interesting facts:
It requires twice as much energy to move 250 pounds as it does to move 125 pounds. So a vehicle burns more gasoline carrying heavier passengers than lighter ones. According to Sheldon Jackson of the University of Illinois: “Growing obesity rates increase fuel consumption, thereby requiring an additional 938 million gallons of gasoline each year due to overweight and obesity in the United States. That’s $4 billion extra.”

Where to Start
1) With yourself. Are you making time for exercise? Are you eating healthy?  Are you leaving work at a reasonable time to spend time with your family and friends? If your answer is no or maybe to any of those, this is where you start. Yes, you’re busy, but are you using your time wisely?    
2) Lead by example. Provide healthy snacks in the office. Get rid of the soda pops, chips and candy. Replace them with water, water, water and healthy snacks such as low fat, low sodium peanut butter crackers or fruit.
3) Make fitness a game or a competition. The goal is fitness, not weight loss. Weight loss should be a by-product of getting fit. Weight loss says “diet.”  Fitness means a lifestyle change – exercise and healthy eating. So base the competition on miles walked in a week.
4) Cooking contests. For the people in your company who like to cook have a contest once a month for the best tasting, low calorie, high nutrition dish with the recipe provided.
5) Partner with a local YMCA or health club and provide “no cost” or “low cost” memberships for your employees and perhaps their families. Again, have a contest each month on how many times an employee goes to the health club each month.
6) Encourage employees to walk for 30 minutes during lunch. Again, be the example. Organize the lunch walk for a few months. Take employees with you. What a great time to talk outside of the work environment. As a health expert once told me, “Three days of exercise in a row becomes a habit.”
7) Sponsor local “walk-a-thons. Give back to the community and encourage the health of your employees at the
same time.

And keep in mind that while you’re promoting and encouraging a healthy lifestyle that will personally benefit your employees, you’re also doing wonders for your company’s bottom line.

Vicki LaPlant has worked with HVAC contractors for the past 30 years as a trainer/consultant. She helps people work better together for greater success. Vicki is a longtime ContractingBusiness.com editorial advisory board member and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at 903/786-6262.

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