Whether you call it working out or just moving, physical activity has many tangible and intangible benefits for all of us.
Staying fit, mobile and healthy requires effort, but you will be surprised that fitness does not have to include hard-core training routines. In fact, too many hard-core training routines without easier recovery days can create worse results than the ones experienced by those who do not train at all.
My personal journey into fitness started for a variety of basic and simple reasons. From weight loss to weight gain; getting bigger, stronger or faster; playing sports or for health concerns, we all have a reason why we start moving.
You will need a reason why to continue as well. Falling off the training wagon happens all the time, mainly because the reasons why we started in the first place did not evolve with the times and situations as we age.
One thing you have to realize and remember is that "Fitness is a Journey -- Not a Destination."
Fitness can be a simple 30-minute walk every day or you can prepare for more challenging fitness goals -- it does not matter. The intangible benefits are still there for all levels of fitness abilities.
Here is a list of many of the ways you can see the fruits of your labor that apply to more than just your health and wellness:
A Disciplined Life. When you start making time to exercise a part of your daily life, you will find that on days that you are not 100% motivated to move the discipline you have created by building daily habits will keep you going. Discipline created on the physical side of your life makes it easier to build discipline in other areas of your life -- including work, school and even family life.
Work Ethic. As you increase your physical ability, you will find that your abilities in other areas will increase as well. General energy to work hard and be more productive, play hard and enjoy life doing things that you may have once never tried are now possible because you take care of your health and increase your body's ability to move longer in a variety of activities. You will notice increased work capacity as a benefit to your fitness relatively quickly as you progress.
Mental Toughness. When you stick to a plan even when you don't feel like it, you are able to use your initial motivation, build habits and consistency and become more disciplined. As your motivation evolves into discipline, you will find that, day by day, you start the building blocks of a more resilient mind and body -- aka "mental toughness" or "grit."
The ability to challenge yourself to be more comfortable doing uncomfortable things can also apply to long days at work and studying harder for exams, as well as physical labor. This is where the mind and body connect. Fitness allows for a connection that not many people have or know how to develop.
General Confidence, Mood and Attitude. Fitness can help you battle a lack of confidence and a general negative mood and attitude that can develop when working with others or trying new and challenging things. Fitness is growth, not only in muscles and stronger bones, but personally and professionally as well.
By increasing your ability to run, lift, do calisthenics, be more flexible and in general just do things others cannot, you will become an example to people. Your ability to inspire and then help others who are beginning their journey is a role I would highly recommend taking, as it is meaningful and empowering.
Immune System. Now, more than ever, you need to find a balance of physical activity to help improve your immune system. You need some combination of exercise (but not too much), eating healthfully and resting.
Working out too hard can cause increased stress response and actually worsen your immune system. Not exercising at all can also have negative effects on your immune system. For the sake of staying healthy, find a proper balance that allows you to not overdo it but also not underdo it. Beginner Fitness Ideas | Avoid Overtraining / More Recovery
Better Performance Physically and in Sleeping. Exercise will help you get stronger and faster, and increase endurance and mobility, but you will also improve your sleep and reduce your mind and body stress. Sleep is critical to your long-term survival from daily stresses.
Due to the increase of activity and the ability to sleep better at night, the stress-relieving benefits of exercise are doubled with this delicate balancing act of activity and rest. Fitness allows you to fall asleep faster and deeper. However, too much fitness activity can lead to insomnia.
In general, starting a fitness program drives you to naturally start taking care of yourself. You may find you drink more water than before, eat better than before and, most importantly, drop bad habits. By adding the habit of fitness, you will find that other good habits follow, and the desire to drop bad ones starts to manifest itself.
There is a saying about setting goals: Achieving goals typically requires two habits -- one you must start and one you must stop. Fitness provides so many good habits and benefits that you do not miss the old habits for very long -- you just have to make today Day 1 and not wait for One Day.
-- Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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