People who struggle to work out during the day (either they don't do it, or it's a tough thing to actually accomplish) are 96 percent more likely to see a drop in productivity than those who make the time or see it as less of a chore, according to research published in Population Health Management.

Makes sense: Multiple studies associate exercise with increased energy, a positive mood, better concentration, and decreased stress--all ingredients to a successful day's work, says James Pope, M.D., vice president and chief science officer at Healthways, where the research was conducted.

Yes, busting your butt at work always pays off. But here are three other unsuspecting things that could speed up your move into the corner office.

Call in Sick

It's good for business--really. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that employees at companies that offered paid sick leave were 28 percent less likely to suffer injuries. Plus, for every dollar of vacation benefits that a company offers, it receives three dollars worth of productivity back, says Paul Powers, Ph.D., author of Love Your Job. Make vacation easier on yourself by helping coworkers when they're off. You'll be exposed to new projects, and they'll be more likely to return the favor when you're at the beach.

Sport a Beard

While the ladies prefer a little stubble--after all, it is The Shave That Drives Her Wild--a full beard makes you look more daunting to competition, says a recent University of Lethbridge study. That's good to know if you're going face-to-face with a colleague in an industry that calls for assertiveness, like sales or advertising. Just don't make this flub: Too sharp of a beard line can throw off your appearance. Transition from beard, to stubble, to clean skin halfway between your Adam's apple and chin. (Want more must-have style and grooming advice delivered straight your inbox? Sign up for the Men's Health Style Siren newsletter.)

Tweet, Text, and Talk

Sure, technology can feel like a burden sometimes. But in a recent International Journal of Mobile Communications study, employees who kept a mobile connection to the office (via BlackBerry, email, and Twitter) felt like they were more in the loop than those who didn't. And in your boss' eyes, tuned-in equals interested--which could put you up for the promotion before your cube-mate, says Charles Purdy, career advice expert at Monster.com. Plus, professional networking is happening more and more on social media platforms, he says. So if you don't learn how to Tweet, someone else will--and reap all the rewards. (Start by discovering How to Boost Your Twitter Followers.)

Additional research by Denny Watkins and Kasey Panetta