It’s called “working out” for a reason. It’s freaking work.
It takes time. It makes your body hurt. It means a little less sleep or a little less time for relaxation.
Why are some people so obsessed with it? Why do they rarely hit the snooze button or find reasons to stay at home after a long day of work?
What motivates them to work so damn hard?
Is it vanity? Do they need to feel better than others? Is it the narcissistic lure of “aesthetics,” and flattering stares and praise?
Or have they discovered something else? Are there deeper reasons why they’re willing to suffer through pain, injuries, weakness, and sometimes misery, whether in sickness or in health?
Well, as one of these “obsessed” people, I can admit…looking good is definitely part of it. Anyone that says otherwise is lying. Guys and gals alike like having lean, defined muscles, and the type of physique that makes people say “wow.”
But there are much more powerful reason to work out.
What usually starts as a physical makeover always, in time, turns into a mental, emotional…and what some might call a spiritual…transformation.
In this article, I want to explore these 3 of these deeper motivations to start working out today.
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I don’t mean this in a philosophical way. I mean it in an immediate and emotional sense.
The activity of exercise will make you feel happy. I guarantee it.
How does this work, exactly? It’s actually physiological.
Exercise causes your body to release feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which play a marked role in your mood and general sense of wellbeing. This is so powerful that research indicates exercise alone could be enough to treat and prevent depression.
It’s really this simple: start working out today and your endocrine system will do it best to make you chronically happier.
Like the “happier” effect, the “smarter” effect is also very real, and very quantifiable.
By “smarter,” I don’t mean “kinda feeling smarter,” I mean measurably better brain function.
“Even ten minutes can change your brain,” says John Ratey, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and author of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. According to Ratey, exercise induces chemical changes in the brain that actually help it make new cells, and new connections between cells.
What does that mean in practical terms?
- Better memory
- Improved learning
- Faster thinking
- Increased ability to focus
- Protection against age-induced brain disorders
Ironically, it turns out that the gym is one of the best places to build your brainpower as well as your muscles.
I believe that if you can create the body of your dreams, you have what it takes to create the life of your dreams as well.
How could that be?
Well, I think that achieving your fitness goals can fundamentally change you as a person. I think it can show you how to overcome your fears and weaknesses, and teach you a lot about how to succeed in all areas of your life.
In fact, I think working out teaches us 3 powerful life lessons:
Working out regularly teaches us that he or she who exert effort reaps the rewards. And the greater the efforts, the greater the rewards.
Many people are secretly terrified of having to exert effort in life. They’re always looking for shortcuts. They want more for less; they want to work smarter not harder; they figure there’s gotta be an easy road out.
Well, it’s all bullshit.
Whether you want to make good money, a good marriage, or a good body, here’s a rule you can count on:
In life, there are only shortcuts to mediocrity. If you want more, you’ll need to do more.
You either do the work or you don’t. Do it well and you can win. Working out is a daily reminder of this, and well, it can just make you into a tough son of a bitch that just won’t give up.
Working out regularly teaches us to learn the process of arriving.
How many people have you known that fantasized about accomplishing things, but quickly grew bored with the “drudgery” required to get there?
Well, this prevalent and pathological obsession with instant gratification is a surefire way to fail at, well, just about everything.
Whether it’s weight loss or work, it always take longer to succeed than we want. Well, the better we can squash feelings of restlessness, impatience, and frustration, the better our every endeavor in life.
How does working out help with this? Well, it teaches us to enjoy the process of arriving, and disabuses us of the idea that satisfaction only comes from having, not doing.
Work out regularly, and you’ll learn to appreciate the process of making slow, steady improvements that, in time, add up to major change.
Apply this mentality to other areas of your life, and wonderful things can happen.
Working out regularly proves that you can do more than you think.
If you’re like most people, a decision to do something creative or constructive is met by internal forces that seem to want you to fail.
Well, regardless of what you call these influencers, they’re very real, and very good at what they do.
If we listen to these whispers, they magnify. If we continue to heed them, they insidiously convince us it’s better to stay small and on the sidelines. To not even try.
Well, when you work out regularly, you learn to smother the voices. You learn that you can set and achieve goals in the gym, and these small victories reinforce your belief in yourself.
The more you win in the gym, the more you believe you can win in life, and this can be quite a game changer.
What did you think of these reasons to start working out? Have any others you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!
+ Scientific References
- AJ, G., ME, B., S, M. M., MC, V. H., Z, M., C, M., NA, R., JM, S., IJ, D., & JM, W. (2012). Neuroprotective lifestyles and the aging brain: activity, atrophy, and white matter integrity. Neurology, 79(17), 1802–1808. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0B013E3182703FD2
- M, A., G, A., HJ, V., A, A., & L, V. (2008). Physical activity and enhanced fitness to improve cognitive function in older people without known cognitive impairment. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD005381.PUB3
- CH, H., MB, P., LB, R., DM, C., EE, H., & AF, K. (2009). The effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic achievement in preadolescent children. Neuroscience, 159(3), 1044–1054. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.NEUROSCIENCE.2009.01.057
- MB, P., CH, H., B, F., KM, T., & TA, V. (2009). The effect of acute aerobic and resistance exercise on working memory. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41(4), 927–934. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0B013E3181907D69
- SB, H., WG, T., WJ, T., XL, K., CG, Z., & XT, W. (2012). Exercise intervention may prevent depression. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 33(7), 525–530. https://doi.org/10.1055/S-0032-1306325
- SN, S., & AK, S. (2006). Moderate exercise and chronic stress produce counteractive effects on different areas of the brain by acting through various neurotransmitter receptor subtypes: a hypothesis. Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4682-3-33