Fitness is About More Than Just Aesthetics

Posted December 9, 2010 by

When most people think of exercise, they tend to associate it with vanity and the desire to look attractive. The truth is that aesthetics only account for a small fraction of the total benefits that are to be had from regular exercise. Some folks scoff at others who desire to stay fit and healthy, often remarking that they are superficial or “attempting to conform to society’s unreasonable standards.” Personally, I think that attitude is ridiculous and typically an example of unproductive negative thought, but that aside, I feel bad for these people because they are missing out on the best part of a healthy lifestyle—the mental and physical benefits beyond your looks!

So what sort of benefits are we talking about here? As stated above, these benefits can be either mental or physical in nature. One of the first benefits beginning exercisers tend to notice is a significant increase in energy—and by this I mean an elimination of the “2:30 feeling” that most people suffer from in the afternoons. Rather than feeling sluggish and inexplicably exhausted, one finds themselves feeling fresh and ready to take on the day’s challenges, for the entirety of the day.

Additionally, exercise releases endorphins that can create a sort of stimulated, “high” feeling. If you’ve ever woken up with a ton of motivation to get stuff done (“a bee in the bonnet,” as the saying goes), then you know exactly what I mean. I personally use this concept strategically, and schedule business action items, errands and other things that I would procrastinate on otherwise, right after my exercise! I come out of the workout feeling like Superman and happily hammer out my entire to-do list. Besides, positive energy has so many benefits in and of itself… and it’s contagious.

On the flip-side, exercise is a great stress-reducer. As I’ve written about in previous articles, stress is one of our biggest enemies—it is a contributing factor in nearly every chronic disease and illness that you can think of. In addition, stress increases the body’s preference to store calories as fat rather than partition them for use in the muscle tissue, meaning less muscle mass and consequently a slower metabolism. In other words, nothing good and a whole lot of bad comes from stress!

Finally, fitness increases self-confidence, even before physical changes manifest themselves! I don’t think I need to spend a lot of time discussing how increased confidence can make your life happier… but I think it’s something that most people can benefit from (ok, so maybe not “The Situation”).

Physically, we have just as many benefits, if not more! One of the best benefits—and I’m going to put this bluntly—is that exercise makes sex a whole lot better. Yes, you heard me correctly! In addition to increasing circulation (i.e. blood flow) throughout the body (I’ll leave it to you to imagine what sort of benefits increased blood flow can provide…), exercise will also increase cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and flexibility. This means having the limberness to try crazy positions and the endurance to be able to do them long enough to enjoy! The improved self-confidence we talked about earlier will also come into play here.

Other critical benefits include a decrease in the risk of osteoporosis and/or osteoarthritis in women later in life, a decreased risk of heart disease, an increased sense of self-awareness which is important for injury-prevention (you’ll be a lot less likely to fall and break your leg or sprain your ankle if your balance and self-awareness are in top condition) and even an increased immune system.

When you combine appropriate exercise with proper nutrition, the benefits above can be magnified many times over. As you can see, the perks to an active lifestyle are numerous and account for much more than simple body composition improvements! Get out there and get moving!

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