Why We Should Exercise: 3 Life Changing Benefits We Rarely Talk About

Why We Should Exercise: 3 Life Changing Benefits We Rarely Talk About

I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline. – Jack LaLanne

I’m going to be straight with you: I wouldn’t be where I am today physically if it wasn’t for exercise.

When I think about hitting the gym it fills me with excitement. Having to endure physical stress, increased heart rate, pain and profuse sweating is a process I’ve grown to love.

I while that might sound strange to a lot of people, those sensations bind together creating an experience that only a true gym enthusiast could understand.

In the last decade, I have spent over 3,500 hours performing various exercises. And believe me, these hours don’t even compare to some people out there.

But with an average of 3.5 hours of exercise each week, it’s been enough to improve my life beyond anything I could have imagined back when I weighed 340 pounds (24-stone).

I can tell you, for a guy like myself who used to be obese, the thought of exercising was intolerable. I truly had to push myself and get beyond my mental limitations before stepping foot in a gym environment.

Fortunately, I was able to make that step and become a person I would now call: healthily obsessed (if there’s such a thing)

Because of my experience with exercise over the years, I feel the need to share with my readers a few important benefits that are rarely emphasized.

Hopefully, what I have to share will inspire you to go out and experience the pleasures of exercise for yourself.

1. Exercise Builds And Sustains Willpower

Imagine the following scenario:

You decide enough is enough. You are going to lose weight and partake in regular exercise.

So you set yourself the following goal: wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast and hit the gym.

But instead of following through on your goal, you hit the alarm and fall back into a deep sleep. When you wake up, you put the goal to the back of your mind to avoid feelings of guilt and proceed with the same old daily routine.

Sound kinda familiar to you?

Here’s the thing: Even the biggest gym enthusiasts can feel lousy in the mornings. The difference is, however, they find it easier to break through and bypass their excuses.

Just because someone exercises regularly and eats a healthy diet, it doesn’t mean every day is inspiring. But the experience of exercising consistently helps them get better at pushing past the mental obstacles.

Personally, I don’t wake up every morning feeling fresh and inspired. Some days, I’ll make 10 excuses not to exercise. But regardless, I still manage to exercise and maintain the standards I have for my body.

Exercise plays an important role in our abilities to push through and get shit done, even when we don’t feel like it.

The ability to train and endure pain demonstrates mental discipline. And this mental discipline sustains itself as a result of exercise. It’s a positive cycle.

There was a time in my life when I had no will power what so ever. But after weeks of pushing myself to exercise, eventually, I developed the mental strength to keep on going.

That very strength has been sustained for over a decade. And while I may not always feel inspired to exercise, I know that as soon as I begin moving my body, I’m back in the game.

2. Exercise Builds Your Self-Esteem From Within

Become who you are by learning who you are. – Robert Greene

There are at least 3 types of people who exercise:

  1. Those who train for themselves
  2. Those who train for the approval of others,
  3. Those who find the balance between the two

Everyone loves the feeling of being noticed for their physical accomplishments. But unfortunately, working out just for compliments demonstrates low levels of self-esteem.

However, when our intentions to exercise come from within and we’re no longer seeking approval, we can reach a high level of self-esteem that occurs naturally.

You’ll notice how people on Instagram love to share their physical accomplishments and seek approval. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the problem is, a lot of people need to constantly feel validated to feel good.

I’ll be honest, in the past, I used to exercise vigorously out of insecurity. I wanted people to take notice and compliment me on my efforts. And If I wasn’t getting the attention I desired, I would feel like crap and train harder.

I did this for many months in my earlier years. But eventually, I decided to give my mind the workout it needed to overcome these insecurities.

I came to a realization that exercise needed to be motivated from within and not for anybody else. Any compliments I received for my efforts would be a bonus.

After reaching this frame of mind, exercise became more enjoyable than ever before. It didn’t matter if my arms were smaller than the guy curling next to me. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t bench my body weight; I was no longer exercising to impress people.

I no longer felt the need to walk around with tight fitted t-shirts in cold weather. I stopped posting pictures of my body during workouts. Instead of seeking validation, I was seeking to improve my intrapersonal skills. 

Knowing that I was training for me and nobody else increased my levels of self-esteem. And I became a happier person as a result.

We can all improve our self-esteem naturally from exercise, but only when we do it for ourselves and not for someone else.

[The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden is the best book I’ve read on this subject]

3. Exercise Helps With Combating Social Anxiety

Everyone has experienced intense feelings of anxiety at some point. And more often than not, it tends to work its way in when we become less self-aware and allow outside events to take over.

Regardless of how and when our anxiety manifests, one thing I have noticed is that exercise helps to deal with it better.

I’ve had to overcome issues with social anxiety, especially after becoming self-employed. I went from a comfortable job surrounded by familiar people, to working for myself and putting my personality and reputation on the line.

However, there was something about training my body, lifting heavy weights and experiencing muscle soreness that strengthened my mind during the transition.

I found that by exercising regularly, building relationships and communicating with people was a lot easier. I become less anxious, less introverted and more interested in other people.

You only have to spend 20 minutes hitting a punch-bag to experience the Rocky Effect; you feel like you can take on the world and talk to anyone.

Think about it: joining a gym requires you to workout in front of complete strangers regularly. There are awkward moments of loitering around machines until the person using it gets off.

Many times you’ll feel uncomfortable asking the 300-pound meathead if he’s done using equipment, but soon enough, you stop giving a f**k.

You’ll see how this ”not giving a f**k” mind rubs off on your personal life. Soon, you’re able to walk into environments feeling more confident in yourself around others.

And experienced gym-goer, someone who has put hundreds of hours into their body, knows how to handle social situations a lot better than someone who doesn’t do any exercise.

I’m not saying exercise is the only solution to social anxiety, but it certainly helps. And I for one, am a better version of myself when I’m working out regularly.

End Note

While exercise has a long lift of benefits, I wanted to focus on three areas that are rarely talked about. Becoming more disciplined, happier and confident as a result of exercise is something we can all experience in our lives. And I for one am proof that exercise works.

It’s easy to forget when people look at me that I was a 300-pound obese teen. I was the guy who couldn’t start a conversation with a stranger, walk into a gym and felt miserable on a daily basis. But if there is one thing I can say about how I got where I am today, it’s through exercise.

Thanks for reading.

– Nathan

 

 

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