Nerdy Musician to Gym Buff: My Top 3 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.
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.
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.
Here are the top three benefits I’ve personally found with exercise
1. Improved Overall Health
Exercise has amazing benefits to your overall health.
- 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.
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.