As sales professionals, we cannot expect to engage our customers in a clear-headed, energized and productive manner if we are physically and emotionally exhausted. In fact, no one can perform at their best without the benefit of good health. Despite countless fads through the years, health professionals consistently site three key areas to foster optimal health: Rest, Exercise and Diet (RED). Consider these key facts for each:

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, yet 30% of us get 6 or fewer hours according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In a recent article on U.S. News and World Report's HEALTH website, neurologist Phyllis Zee asserts, "Sleep is completely underrated. People think they can do with a little bit less, and many even think it's normal to get by on a few hours of sleep. They feel tired, but they think that's the worst of it. In reality, the consequences are much greater." Those consequences include increased risk of obesity and compromised mental acuity.

The Mayo Clinic staff cites these benefits of exercise: controls weight, combats chronic disease and health conditions (including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis), improves mood, boosts energy and promotes better sleep. Improved mental performance is also associated with regular exercise.
How much exercise do we need? For adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) per week (about 20 minutes per day), and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days. The CDC stresses that exercise can be completed in small chunks, as little as 10 minutes at a time is beneficial.

The endless array of diets for improved health and weight loss can be confusing and overwhelming, but the basics of good nutrition are pretty simple, as cited by the CDC: Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and milk products; include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Minimize saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Stay within your daily calorie needs.
One key opportunity for better nutrition is to increase our intake of fruits and vegetables, since only about one in 10 of us gets the recommended daily servings (9 servings/day according to the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services). That translates to about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. Seem like a daunting goal? Salads and smoothies are both great ways to pack several servings into one meal.

In addition to the individual benefits of proper rest, exercise and nutrition, there is also a synergistic effect across these three pillars of good health. Good nutrition provides energy for exercise; which in turn helps you sleep better. Good sleep curbs cravings for empty calories via carbs, stimulates a balanced appetite, and also provides the energy needed for exercise.

When it comes to our health, tending to these three basics will improve our customer engagement, sales performance and overall quality of life.