Nerdy Musician to Gym Buff: My Top 3 Benefits of Exercise

benefits of exercise

Growing up I was not much of a sporty kid.

Sure, I’d tried the buffet strategy, “I’ll try a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”, But I never quite settled on something I enjoyed.

  • After getting concussed during Rugby, I decided that was too rough.
  • I tried playing cricket, but then I realized I didn’t enjoy standing in the sun mostly doing nothing all day.
  • I looked into underwater hockey, but then I realized the boys had to wear speedos and so I vetoed that too.

While all my “jock” buddies were out getting abs, tans, and ladies I was in the music room playing punk music. Despite my fingers getting a workout on the guitar fretboard, the only physical change I witnessed was getting finger calluses.

I really didn’t see the value in exercise….

When I left school I joined a gym to see what all the fuss was about. However, I never found out what all the fuss was about because I never really went. I signed up and nothing happened. Apparently having an unused gym card in your wallet doesn’t do anything for your body. Weird.

cycles

I finally gave up my exercise hiatus when a friend of my mine joined a local Crossfit gym. He saw amazing results and then invited me along.

I tried it out, got hooked, and signed up.

12 Months Almost Zero Results!

After working out for a solid 12 months I almost decided to throw in the towel on exercise altogether due to not seeing the results I wanted. Despite having a terrible diet, I thought exercise would cancel that out and fat-loss would come anyway.

Not so!

I was engaging in some of the most grueling workouts I’d ever seen and in the end I was stronger, fitter, and fatter. Yes, even fatter. I reached an achievement I affectionately call “fat and fit“.

I learned an important lesson: “You can’t out-exercise your mouth“. 

You can exercise all you want, but if you aren’t focusing on your food choices & caloric intake then it’s almost all in vain.

I thought if I worked out hard enough I could essentially eat whatever I wanted, but that’s not the case.

Despite exercise not being the miracle pill I thought it was, it still has HUGE benefits.

Most people are aware that exercise has countless benefits and yet not many people engage in it regularly. I can honestly say since starting exercising 3-5 days a week I’m a better man because of it.

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Here are the top three benefits I’ve personally found with exercise

1. Improved Overall Health

Exercise has amazing benefits to your overall health.

According to The Nutrition Source at Harvard and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, exercise and being physically active regularly:

  • Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier.
  • Helps protect you from developing heart disease and stroke.
  • Helps protect you from developing certain cancers; including colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial (uterine lining) cancer.
  • Helps prevent type 2 diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes) and metabolic syndrome (a constellation of risk factors that increases the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes; read more about simple steps to prevent diabetes).
  • Helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis.
  • Reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults.
  • Relieves symptoms of depression & anxiety and improves mood.
  • Improves heart-lung and muscle fitness.
  • Improves sleep.

2. Achieving a Caloric Deficit.

A caloric deficit is KEY for weight loss.

Although regularly exercising is not the fat-loss miracle drug I once thought it was, it’s still important to note that exercise does burn calories and helps achieve a caloric deficit.

The higher the intensity or the longer the duration, the more calories are burned.

In conjunction with a healthy diet, exercise can help accelerate weight loss.

Of course exercise is still great even if you’re not trying to lose weight, or even if you want to gain weight. It’s just important to make sure that you eat the calories you may have burned during exercise so as not to end up in a deficit.

3. Increased Mental Toughness

I once came across a video of Will Smith telling teenagers why he runs. He said this:

“When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running. You will know how to not quit when things get hard in your life.”

Without a doubt the biggest benefit exercise has had for me is improving my mental toughness.

mental-toughness

The number of times that I want to give up during any given workout is bordering on insanity. Even getting out of the house to the gym is sometimes an accomplishment.

But, I continue to do it because I want to ignore the voice of resistance that wants to keep me average.

I’ve experimented with a lot of different training methods (running and Crossfit, to name two). Recently I’ve loved going to the gym and my routine is strength training 4-5 times a week with some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 2-3 times weekly.

I’ve gone from nerdy musician to gym buff. The best part? I actually really enjoy it now!

For every individual that exercises they’ll each have their own reasons for doing so. The above three benefits are simply what I’ve found. It’s ok if yours are different.

Regardless of whether you walk, run, workout at the gym, or do some other program, I believe exercising regularly will not only add years to your life, but life to your years. I think you’ll be better because of it.

Disclaimer: Your results may vary and Dan’s were largely due to his dedication and adherence to his calorie/macro protocols.

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and is our lead macro coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see our personal coaching options.
Last Updated: June 30, 2019

11 Comments

  1. Larry

    I have on begun, a few weeks ago I picked up the weights and have embarked on a three days weights, three days stretching and or bike and treadmill routine..
    Sleeping a whole lot better and feel fired up again at 67! Was not extremely overweight to begin with, but obviously lost a lot of strength over the years.

    Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Larry, That’s amazing! The benefits really are incredible and in some cases instant.

      All the best with the journey forward 🙂

      Reply
  2. Daniel Wagle

    My experience is that I couldn’t out train a *really bad* diet by exercise and still lose weight. But on the other hand, I have found that I couldn’t “out diet” a sedentary lifestyle with very little exercise and lose very much weight. I find that exercise works best for weight control when it is done everyday and there is moderation in the diet. Daily exercise eliminates the need for very low calorie diets, but it enables extremely few people to lose weight while they continue to consume 9000 calories a day. I lost my weight consuming between 2000 and 3000 calories each day, something I couldn’t do it I didn’t exercise. Without exercise, surely I would have had to consume well under 2000 calories a day to lose the weight.

    Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Brilliant point on “out dieting”, Daniel. It’s a both/and scenario. I’ve tried ALL diet and I’ve tried ALL exercise. I now prefer going ALL in with both 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  3. Ted

    Great article Dan! I hate that voice that tries to talk me out of working out or exercising. It always has such good reasons….

    you can do it tomorrow…

    your body needs a break…

    It’s raining….

    One missed workout won’t hurt…

    etc….

    I always feel better after.

    I loved your quote “You can’t out-exercise your mouth“ ! So true.

    Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Always the best reasons, right?
      That Will Smith quote just made me love him more. Great actor and a smart guy 😉

      Reply
  4. spectra311

    Excellent points! I have noticed that exercise benefits me in many ways but not in the ways you’d probably think. Sure, I sleep better, my mood is better, I don’t get stressed as easily, and my blood pressure numbers are spectacular, but in addition to all of those benefits, I also have more self-discipline in other areas of my life. I really was able to cut back on needless shopping when I started exercising because I realized that if I could endure a workout and come out of it better, I could endure not spending money and get the satisfaction of having more money in the bank. You wouldn’t think it’s related, but I honestly think there is a huge link there.

    Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Great stuff, Spectra, I totally agree. Exercise has a huge positive impact on almost all of life. After finishing a gruelling workout I leave feeling like I can accomplish anything!

      Reply
  5. KAREN FRASER

    Excellent article. Saving this for the days my inner demon is trying to talk me out of exercise. My exercise motto: You’re only one fitness class away from a good mood.

    Reply
    • JamesF

      And that for me is probably the number one reason I exercise:

      “Relieves symptoms of depression & anxiety and improves mood”

      It’s the best stress reliever there. The challenge is that the time you feel LEAST like getting out there, is the time you need it MOST.

      Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Such a great quote, Karen. Thanks for sharing this!

      Reply