Why you should start working out today!
It doesn’t matter if you are a workout addict already or if you want to get some motivation to start exercising more often, the following 10 points will convince you why physical activity is one of the best things for body and mind. Plus, why you should start exercising right after reading this!
So without further ado let’s jump right into the benefits of exercise.
1. Sleep & relaxation
When you exercise you get tired. This is an easy equation and should indicate that working out should make you sleep better. But is this really the case? From my personal experience, I would definitely say yes. But this is a very subjective statement and could also be influenced by various other factors. So we might have to take a little more scientific approach here.
Generally speaking, research agrees that exercise is good for your sleep. If you are working out on a regular basis you will have a better time entering a sleep of deeper quality and will spend more time in that deep sleep phase (also known as slow-wave sleep or SWS). This phase is very important for your brain to recover from its daily activities which will help you to stay focused and increase your ability to concentrate during the day. Furthermore, the secretion of growth hormone (GH) is highest during SWS. This is interesting especially for athletes since GH is responsible for cell growth and regeneration and therefore facilitates muscle growth and recovery. So sleep in general is a crucial factor besides the workout itself and proper nutrition.
But remember too much of a good thing can be bad as well. Overtraining can actually decrease your quality of sleep, so push yourself but not too far.
2. Stress, depression & anxiety
Whenever I have a lot of stuff on my mind or am stressed from work a quick training session helps me clear my mind.
Exercise can actually reduce your stress and is also a good treatment for depression and anxiety. There are several short and long-term benefits of exercise that can help you lift your mood and make you a happier person. Your body naturally releases endorphins during and immediately after training to reduce your pain perception. Since endorphins are a morphine-like substance they actually may produce a feeling of euphoria. Runners, for example, refer to this feeling as “runner’s high”. So next time you want to feel high pass on the joint and go for a run!
To have the best long-term effects, you should work out on a regular basis and with at least moderate intensity.
3. Mental capacity
Not only does physical training improve your mental state, it also increases mental capacity. Of course, you won’t become an Einstein by working out but studies show that exercise improves the cognitive functioning of your brain. And this isn’t surprising since physical exercise alters your brain structures (neuroplasticity) and forms new neurological patterns. Professional athletes, although some of them don’t seem like they are the brightest bulb in the box, still have to store millions of different brain patterns. Superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or LeBron James are the best because they usually have the most patterns stored in their brain to cope with different situations during a game. They attain mastery through repeating certain moves over and over again and therefore strengthening their neurological pathways and expanding their mental capacity.
4. Healthy body & quality of life
Besides the benefits to your mental well-being, working out obviously has a positive effect on your physical health. The human body is amazing, it can adapt to almost anything. If you exercise regularly your body will adapt more and more to these changes. You will increase muscle strength and bone mass and therefore build a healthier body and stronger bones. By building more muscle you also decrease the stress on your joints which will make you less prone to injuries or chronic pain such as back or knee pain.
So if you exercise while still young it will benefit you in the future. While everyone will be bound to their walking aid you will still be jumping around doing backflips! But jokes aside even if you don’t feel in shape at the moment it is never too late to start.
Furthermore, exercise is a protective factor against many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure. But what is most important in my opinion is that daily exercise plays an important role in the prevention of two primary metabolic diseases: obesity and type II diabetes. With regular exercise and a healthy nutrition, these are totally preventable.
5. Energy levels
Sometimes you come home exhausted and just want to chill on the couch… Exercise? Are you crazy?! That will make me even more tired!!
Nope, not so much. Actually, exercise boosts your energy levels more than stimulant medications, a study published in the Psychological Bulletin in 2006 found out. So how come? When you move your body has to create energy. Responsible for this are the small power plants in our cells, called mitochondria. The more you work out the more mitochondria will your body produce to adapt. To decrease your fatigue, light exercise like 15 min walks work best. But even if you want to go beast mode and go to your limits the workout might tire you out but nevertheless, it will reduce tension in your body and you will feel more relaxed afterward.
6. Sexual performance
Exercise may also increase your sexual performance, functioning, and pleasure! Physical activity activates your sympathetic nervous system which encourages blood-flow to your genital region. A study in 2003 found out that by burning at least 200 calories a day men can decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction. Additionally, exercise increases your attractiveness and energy levels which will make you feel better about yourself and attract all the sexy mamis or papis out there.
7. Habit building & goal setting
If you want to build more discipline in your life, exercising is the perfect way to start. However, I don’t like the connotation of the word “discipline” much. A lot of people associate it with the willpower to do things they should be doing but actually do not want to do. That’s why I rather like to talk about habit building. Of course, in the beginning, you might have to kick your own butt a little, but after a while, you should enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing there is no point in forcing yourself. Nevertheless, there are a lot of different physical activities you can choose from, so there should be no excuse to avoid sports altogether.
The beginning is always hard, but if you stick with it you will build strong habits. No matter which type of physical activity, to improve you always have to set goals for yourself. Be it hitting 20 free throws in a row or bench pressing 225 lbs. At first, start with small steps and work your way up to bigger goals later. Through this, you will learn how to build healthy habits and set goals for yourself. But remember exercise should be fun, so don’t be overly obsessive with your goals
8. Social interactions
Once you work out regularly and see the first results exercise can be really fun. No matter if you do individual sports or play in a team you will be looking forward to your training sessions. Although I love parkour and body weight training, which are both individual sports, playing a good game of basketball with friends is still the most fun and fulfilling thing for me. Probably because through playing sports in a team you engage in physical activity and socialize at the same time. Because let’s be honest everything gets better in a group. So even if you do individual sports like calisthenics, parkour or weight lifting you can still work out with some friends.
You can even make new friends. When I go to street workout parks I often like to chat with other people there. Usually, there are always people which share the same goals as you. Obviously this doesn’t mean that you are solely going there to drink some coffee, eat some cake and chat but on the other hand you don’t have to go there do your thing, don’t talk to anyone and leave again 😀 And this does not only apply to calisthenics but all other individual sports as well.
9. You are getting outdoors
Whenever you don’t have access to a gym you can always work out outside. And even if you do, it is still a good idea since you will get some extra Vitamin D and you won’t have to pay for a gym membership. Most cities nowadays have street workout parks as a good alternative to a regular gym where you can do some pull ups, push ups or dips. And of course, you can always go out for a jog.
Exercising outside has another benefit. We know that exercise alone can help you increase your self-esteem. However, a study shows that working out outside can increase your self-esteem even more if you are exercising in a pleasant scenery. So go green with your training program whenever you can!
The most important point for me besides the health benefits is that exercise increases your confidence. This has to do with most of the points that are mentioned in this article. First of all, you will build a strong and healthy body which will lead to an enhanced body image, body satisfaction, and body acceptance. If you work out regularly you will, step by step, master skills that you can be proud of. As pointed out earlier exercising helps you to set goals and once you reached them you will feel some sense of achievement. All advancements in physical activity require you to be in better alignment with your body. You will really get to know your body, its limits and how to constantly move beyond these limits to further challenge yourself.
For me, some of the best sports you can do to increase your self-esteem are weightlifting and bodyweight training, parkour and hand balancing as well as martial arts. Weight lifting and bodyweight training both help you to build a strong body and will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin. Parkour and hand balancing are for me optimal ways to master your body’s capabilities and lets you know what you can and cannot do. And last but not least martial arts are in my opinion one of the best ways to feel better about yourself. They teach you how to defend yourself which is incredibly powerful but also to only use it if there is no other way. Furthermore all martial arts are usually built on cool philosophies that can help you in all life situation.
But please do me a favor. Never do some sort of training only to look ripped or impress other people. This comes from a place of insecurity. One of the most important things I learned is comprised in the following quote and applies to all processes of mastery:
Be in love with the process, not with the results!
Do things because you love to do them and not because you think other people will like you more if you have a six pack or can do cool things to impress people.
So that’s it, ten points why you should start working out today! I hope this will motivate you no matter if you are just starting to work out or if you already follow a strict workout regimen.
With this being said, peace out and talk to you soon!
Photo credit: David Whittaker, definitely check out his pics.
 Brand, S., Gerber, M., Beck, J., Hatzinger, M., Pühse, U., & Holsboer-Trachsler, E. (2010). High exercise levels are related to favorable sleep patterns and psychological functioning in adolescents: a comparison of athletes and controls. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(2), 133-141.
 Van Cauter, E., & Plat, L. (1996). Physiology of growth hormone secretion during sleep. The Journal of pediatrics, 128(5), S32-S37.
 Velloso, C. P. (2008). Regulation of muscle mass by growth hormone and IGF‐I. British journal of pharmacology, 154(3), 557-568.
 Exercise and Depression: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1
 Griffin, É. W., Mullally, S., Foley, C., Warmington, S. A., O’Mara, S. M., & Kelly, Á. M. (2011). Aerobic exercise improves hippocampal function and increases BDNF in the serum of young adult males. Physiology & behavior, 104(5), 934-941.
 Hötting, K., & Röder, B. (2013). Beneficial effects of physical exercise on neuroplasticity and cognition. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(9), 2243-2257.
 Burr, D. B. (1997). Muscle Strength, Bone Mass, and Age‐Related Bone Loss. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 12(10), 1547-1551.
 Docherty, C. L., Moore, J. H., & Arnold, B. L. (1998). Effects of strength training on strength development and joint position sense in functionally unstable ankles. Journal of athletic training, 33(4), 310.
 University of Georgia. (2006, November 8). Regular Exercise Plays A Consistent And Significant Role In Reducing Fatigue. ScienceDaily.
 Exercise for Energy: Workouts That Work: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-for-energy-workouts-that-work#3, by Colette Bouchez.
 Young, M., & Penhollow, T. (2004). Sexual desirability and sexual performance: Does exercise and fitness really matter. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 7.
 Pretty, J., Peacock, J., Sellens, M., & Griffin, M. (2005). The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise. International journal of environmental health research, 15(5), 319-337.