80.2 million Americans over the age of six don’t do anything to stay fit. Are you one of them?

Can you neglect your health and still be successful?

Those who strive for success tend to put their priorities on only the things that take them to the next level of their goals. But there are aspects of your life that you cannot ignore if you want to really achieve success. How much more effective could you be if you felt better? If your mind was clearer? If you could concentrate more?

Your health is your most important ally in your quest to be the best, most successful, most confident person you can be. Gary Vaynerchuk learned this—at the age of 38, he threw himself into improving his fitness. “I wish I had prioritized my health,” he said in one of his videos two months afterwards, talking about the changes he’d made and what good it had done for him.

To find out more about why health is so important, I talked to Dr. Nina Izhaky, dentist and owner of Tribeca Dental Studio, and Dr. Alexander Vaiman, dentist and partner at New York Family Dental Arts. They gave me some very helpful background information to combine with my own research—here’s why you should prioritize your health:

1) Mental Clarity

Mental clarity is one of the biggest benefits to better health, and it starts with sleep. “I have to get enough sleep to make sure I’m fresh for clients,” says Dr. Izhaky. “It’s one of the things we neglect the most in modern society.”

Fifty to seventy million Americans have a sleep disorder—a huge chunk of the country. Almost forty percent report nodding off accidentally during the day. If you’re drowsy all the time, how are you going to get the tasks you have ahead of you done?

You can’t be your best self without resting yourself.

Clarity comes from diet and exercise, too. Regular aerobic exercise seems to boost the hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. It helps to negate stress and anxiety. Good diet directly affects mental clarity and health, too. Eating healthier, more natural food helps your brain work better.

This isn’t rocket science. A car that sits in one place and rusts, or a car that’s constantly given bad gasoline, isn’t going to run as well as one that’s kept active and given good fuel. The same goes for your body, and your mind is part of that too.

2) Discipline

“One of the most important parts of health is discipline and consistency,” says Dr. Vaiman. “Consistent visits to the doctor or dentist, staying on top of things before they happen. Nipping problems in the bud early. Being consistent with diet and fitness.”

Consistency is one of the keys to success in life, too. If you’re not constantly doing what you need to be doing, you’re dealing with the effects of neglected maintenance. Pay a little up front or pay a lot down the road.

If you’re showing the discipline and consistency that you need to with your health, you’re building habits that will bleed over into every aspect of your life, and you’re saving yourself trouble down the road. Why not work on your health each day?

3) Time and Money

As of 2018, a total of 92.4 million man hours were lost in the United States due to unplanned dental visits alone. That’s a staggering amount of work time. “I routinely see people in for unplanned visits that could have been avoided had they spent more time considering their health,” says Dr. Izhaky.

Dr. Vaiman concurs.

“We deal with a lot of people who spend far more time and money than they should have to because they didn’t prioritize health first. As someone who deals with health, especially oral health, it’d save everyone a lot of trouble if they just tried to stay ahead of their health by living better.”

Unplanned doctor visits, and even minor maladies like chronic headaches or fatigue, sap your productivity, your time and your money. If you want to be successful, you need those things at peak performance.

4) Delegation

To improve your health, you’ll have to get some stuff off your plate.

Many people try to take too much on themselves, creating burnout—and burnout will destroy your health in the long run. Delegate key tasks to people who will be able to help you and you’ll see a direct increase in both your own health and the productivity of whatever you’re doing.

5) Prioritization

Overwork and the fetishization of it is a big issue, particularly in the entrepreneurial community. 

There’s a long list of problems tied to overwork that affect both individual health and a company’s bottom line—depression, absenteeism, alcoholism, employee turnover, diabetes…the list goes on and on.

And the benefits are negligible, even if they’re noticeable at all. When the standard workday first went down to eight hours, managers were shocked to discover that output actually increased. We’ve somehow lost sight of that in the headlong rush to production.

If you’re sacrificing your health on the altar of work, stop to consider: what’s most important? What can I leave for another day? What needs to get done first? That will make you a more confident, competent, healthy, happy person. And it’ll make you more productive too.

6) Happiness

One of the biggest benefits of getting up and moving is in personal happiness.

Serotonin, endorphins and dopamine all can come from exercise and fitness, and even just a ten-minute walk will put you in a more positive frame of mind. Get up and get moving and you’ll be happier, more confident, and less prone to some mental health issues.

The body and mind are a wondrous machine, and to get the most out of your life you need to prioritize their well-being. If you put the effort into maintaining your health that you put into the other areas of your life, the benefits aren’t just linear—they’re exponential. You can live a happier, healthier, more confident life. And it starts with being your healthiest self.