Everybody knows you should do it, but still, most people don't. Physical exercise should be a staple in everybody's daily routine, but it isn't. Why? Do people believe that it's too much work to stay fit, or are they simply unaware of all the benefits exercise provides? Well, most people only know about some of the less important benefits exercise provides: looking better and perhaps feeling better. However, they are completely unaware of some of the lesser-known benefits physical exercise provides. For example: You experience higher levels of energy when you exercise, your overall confidence will improve, and you'll slow down the physical process of aging by years.
The type of physical exercise is not important at all. It doesn't matter if you go to the gym, sign up for a martial arts or boxing class, or simply get some sort of movement in every day for half an hour, the only thing that matters is that you're consistently moving.
In this blog I’m not going into the specifics of training, what you should train or how, what you should eat, etc. That’s something for another blog. Now we're going to talk about why fitness overall is important and how it will massively improve your life. I hope to give you some aspects of your life that fitness improves that you haven’t thought about yet.
Increased levels of energy:
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start taking fitness seriously is that you will have a lot more energy during the day.
You may believe that starting with fitness would sap your energy levels and make you more tired throughout the day. If you believe this, you may be surprised to find out that it's actually the exact opposite.
The more you train, the more energy your body will have. This is likely a combination of improved muscular endurance and the fact that your metabolism will work faster because it has to convert the food you eat into muscle more quickly
This change in metabolism makes your body more efficient, thus it also becomes more efficient with its energy. Now your energy isn't lost through the slow process of metabolizing food anymore because that is sped up. Fitness requires a lot of energy, and your body can provide that energy for you now that it's more efficient.
Your body is only going to operate at the baseline you set for it. When you sit on the couch all day, you will become tired, that's because your body doesn’t have to free up as much energy to keep functioning. Sitting on the couch doesn't demand much energy, so it will give you the least amount of energy possible. When you have less energy because your body doesn't think it needs any, you feel tired, when you're tired you don't want to do anything, making you feel more tired. Now you enter a negative spiral only lowering your energy levels more and more.
You can only break this cycle by doing something. Start to exercise, move, and you’ll notice instantly that you feel more energized. The energy is already stored away somewhere in your body ready to be used, but the mind has to release that energy so that you can use it, and it only releases it if it feels like it has to.
Your body wants to maintain and store as much energy as possible because you might need to use it in an emergency, but your body doesn’t know when to stop this process. This is the reason so many people are overweight today, because of the low energy demand put on their body, and the large quantities of energy they put in it, resulting in a massive storage of energy in the form of fat. This is also why it’s important that the energy output matches the input, because if the input is much higher than the output, the remainder of the input is stored, mostly in the way of body fat, and having this discrepancy for too long will result in you becoming overweight.
Food is really the icing on the cake when it comes to energy. Fitness in general will already massively improve your energy levels, even when your diet remains trash. But to skyrocket your energy levels, you need good food. Your body is like a machine, when you give it low-quality fuel, it won’t work as efficiently and won’t be as powerful. When you provide it with high-quality fuel, the power output is much higher and it will run more smoothly. Good nutrition will give your energy levels the biggest boost possible. I’ve already written a blog about the importance of good nutrition and the impact it has on your energy levels. In it, I also give you actionable advice to make eating healthy foods as easy as possible, without feeling any cravings for bad foods. You can read that here.
What you’ll notice when you start working out and feeling more energized, is besides the fact that your body works better, it also looks better. You’ll start to lose body fat, your posture becomes more upright, depending on how far you take it you’ll start to see abs, get wide shoulders, and really see some muscle definition. Your body changes for the better once you start exercising.
You don’t have to go as far as looking like a bodybuilder, that is totally unnecessary, but every improvement that you make towards a fitter body is significant. It’s always better to have less of a belly than you have right now, no matter how fat and unfit you might be.
Fitness, for most people, is not about achieving the perfect body, but it’s about making your own body better every single day. If you stay consistent in your fitness journey, you’ll notice these little improvements every day no matter what you do. All that matters is that today you become better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today.
What everybody else is doing is uninteresting. Everybody has different genetics, different goals, and a different view of what it means to be fit. You can’t compare yourself to a bodybuilder who wants to become as huge as possible if you want to have a body suited for martial arts. Those are two completely different goals, so you shouldn’t compare the two like they are the same thing. Your fitness has to align with your goals and genetics, what the crowd is doing simply doesn’t matter.
"Today one must be better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today. The pursuit of perfection is a lifelong quest that has no end." ~ Hagakure 1-45
What you’ll notice when you start exercising, besides feeling more energized and looking and feeling better, is that your confidence goes up. This has multiple reasons:
Firstly, you don’t feel like that weak little person anymore if you were that person beforehand, you'll feel like you are better and stronger than most people, and this will give you a certain sense of superiority, resulting in confidence.
Also, because you know you could muster up the discipline to train every day and perhaps even eat good food consistently, you know that you can do everything you put your mind to. If you decide to do something, you know that you have the discipline to do it and to get results, you proved this to yourself by becoming fitter.
Perhaps if you’ve gotten bigger you’ll also feel less intimidated by others, feeling less insecure because you are not a target anymore. Now people see that you could fight back, which is not what the bullies want, so they’ll leave you alone. If they don’t, you know you’ll be more capable of defending yourself than when you still had spaghetti arms.
There was an experiment done regarding this idea a while ago, where the participants had to guess if people they saw on foto's were actually prey, so possible victims of assault or bullying, or people who were the so-called predators, the people who were not victims and who you wouldn’t want to touch.
The results of this experiment were remarkable, the results of who was prey and who was predator was almost unanimous. Almost everybody could immediately see who was an easy victim, and who they didn’t want to mess with. They made this assessment unconsciously, mostly based on how a person walked, behaved, and if they exuded confidence or not.
This shows you the importance of an improved level of confidence, and of exuding this confidence. Once you feel confident in yourself, you’ll start radiating this outwards, and people will be able to notice it. This means that they are going to see you as a predator instead of prey. This will make them not want to mess with you, stopping you from becoming a target.
The funny thing is, once you prepare yourself for being able to fight someone, nobody will want to fight you, and you’ll get into fewer fights than ever before. Most people stop seeing you as a target, so they won’t bother you anymore. Having the capability to fight is mostly only necessary so you cast outwards that you can fight.
Really having to fight becomes rare once you know how to fight.
You will age a lot better:
One of the most important aspects in my opinion about exercising, is how well it affects the way you age.
Most people age horribly, when they pass their fifties, they look terrible: overweight, terrible skin, tired all the time, having aches and pains, constant operations and joint replacements.
If you look at most old people, you may start to think that life will suck once you're older. This doesn't have to be the case, you can actually age like fine wine if you put in the effort right now. If you set your future self up with great habits, a great body, and a strong mindset, it will be terribly difficult to end up like most old people.
Probably the worst thing people experience about getting older is all of the knicks and dings they're going to get. Little pains everywhere, or sometimes even large chronic injuries that prevent them from doing what they would like to do at their age. While you can't prevent this entirely from happening to you, because your body simply breaks down once you get past a certain age, you can massively slow this process down.
Your joints are protected and supported by your muscles. When you make sure to exercise and strengthen your muscles and make them capable of supporting your movements, you are also protecting your joints. This will slow down the wear and tear of your joints and make you able to do and experience so much more when you're older.
Imagine what life would be like if everything would hurt, and doctors appointments were a part of your regular schedule. This is what life would be like without exercise.
Now take that same older self, but imagine him to be fit, healthy, free from terrible pains, only having occasional appointments at the doctor instead of weekly. This is you with exercise. This version of you can do everything he wants, even in his old age. The other version is tied up to a wheelchair, waiting to die.
You choose which version of yourself you are going to be, depending on whether you exercise or not.