The greatest challenge in developing a permanent exercise habit is finding motivation that lasts. It’s easy to get to the gym when you’re preparing for that big beach vacation or want to look great for your high school reunion. But what about the rest of the time?
For much of my life I followed a pretty consistent pattern:
- Get a bit fat.
- Start to hate the way I look.
- Hit the gym with a vengeance for a few weeks.
- Start to look noticeably better.
- Smugly enjoy my new found vanity.
- Lose motivation and stop working out for a few weeks.
- Repeat from beginning.
Vanity, it turns out, isn’t a great longterm motivator for most people. It wasn’t until I associated exercise with rewards beyond physical appearance that I was able to get myself to the gym 5-6 times a week without any lapses.
To help you bring consistency and enthusiasm to your exercise schedule, here are some powerful reasons to work out that have nothing to do with looking good.
This one is mostly for the gents (sorry ladies) and it applies to weight training. Testosterone is the essence of manhood. When you lift weights and gradually increase the level of resistance, your muscles produce testosterone. This gives you the energy, stamina, and aggressiveness you need to take on the world.
On days after a big weight training work out, I’ve experience a significant increase in energy. I tend to pop out of bed (I’m usually groggy) and feel more vigorous over the course of the day.
2. Clarity and Concentration
An active body has been linked to an active mind. The more consistently you exercise, the less prone you’ll be to grogginess and lapses in concentration. As anecdotal evidence of this, my best cure for writer’s block has always been going for a long walk, run, or hitting the gym.
Exercise is a time to let your mind unwind while your body does the work. Strangely, when you stop actively trying to solve a mental challenge, the solution often pops into your head. Exercise is an opportunity for your subconscious mind to put together the pieces.
Working out needn’t be seen as a chore or obligation. There are tons of enjoyable ways to exercise. For example, if you live in a scenic area, going for a run or bike ride along a beautiful route can brighten things up. Since I moved to Los Angeles a couple months ago, running on the beach has gotten me out the door much more frequently.
Other great options include: using exercise as a chance to spend time with friends and family, playing a sport or game, striving to achieve new personal bests, week after week.
Have you ever gone a couple weeks without exercise and noticed that you begin to sweat an exorbitant amount? That’s because sweat, along with toxins, tends to build up over time. Sweating regularly through exercises removes these toxins and will help you feel more comfortable.
6. Better Sleep
Studies have shown that exercise improves sleep. I love my sleep, so this is big for me.
7. Longer Life
When you choose to exercise, you’re making an investment, not just in your present physical appearance, but in the rest of your life. People who exercise regularly live longer and stay healthier into old age. If not for yourself, consider the family members that love and depend on you.
8. Stress Relief
Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress. This is a combined result of the benefits of cleansing, reflection, and a physical outlet for frustration.
9. Superior Strength and Endurance
About 4 years ago I went through a rough stretch where I gained 15-20 pounds in only a few months. Being unfit drastically changed the way I could move my body. It threw off my balance and made everyday tasks more difficult and uncomfortable. By exercising regularly, you’ll be better able to live and act, and in the event of an emergency, seize the moment.
10. Self Confidence
The sum of all these benefits is self confidence. (And, yes, looking good will help here too.) Greater self confidence is drives success, so its value can’t be underestimated. Exercise and fitness are an enormous part of reaching your potential.