We, as men, are far less aware of our looks than women. Still, I don’t think it is entirely neutral when your self-image comes to play. It may not count for much; you are a man and are subject to “low” notions.
But, as outrageous it is for equity activists, you are judged by your look. Guess what? Fit guys make a better first impression. You can sit on the couch with a beer in hand hoping that noble activist will eradicate the notion that a man’s value depends on his weight, or you can move your stern and get to some exercises.
Your look is just one of the many reasons you should pay attention to your fitness. There are a whole lot more benefits to it.
1. You get stronger.
Yes, machines are doing the heavy lifting nowadays, but you never know when some additional strength will be handy. At our house, we have a coal furnace. We keep coal in sacks in a shed in the backyard. I have to carry several 55-pound sacks about once a week. I’m a short guy, just 5’5″ and I weight about 145 pounds. Thanks to my daily exercises, I don’t find this task difficult at all.
However, tossing the sacks would have been a challenge for me just four years ago when I paid only the minimal attention to my fitness.
2. Your self-esteem increases.
We are social animals. You may not think much about your bulging gut, but when others notice it, you will notice that. When I was slightly overweight, I was indifferent to my look, like any other guy. But when I shed 15% of my bodyweight, and people around me noticed that I suddenly became aware of my looks and smug about it. It was a total self-confidence boost for me.
3. You have more energy.
This is more than a superficial benefit. When I tackled my surplus pounds head on, I was rewarded with the energy of a volcano. Before taking proper care of my body, I was sluggish most of the time. Daily tasks were tiring, and any additional commitments sounded like mission impossible. “Coincidently,” since I got fit, I also started doing a lot more in my life. On top of my day job, I began a writing career and self-published a dozen books. For the last couple of years, I’ve been working about 60 hours a week.
4. You need less sleep.
That’s a paradox—the more active your body is, the less sleep it needs. Of course, it only applies to some extent. It’s not like after running a marathon you need only an hour of sleep. But it seems that sedentary lifestyle is an ally of a couch potato in you. Get fit, keep fit and you will need 15 or 30 minutes of less sleep. It will compound with time.
When I was a fatty, I needed about eight hours of sleep per day. Nowadays, I sleep about 6.5 hours and manage to do much more during my days than I did in the past.
5. Exercise is a keystone habit.
What is a keystone habit? It’s the habit that incites you to develop more habits. Scientists were fascinated by the fact that some people could introduce new habits with relative ease while others were unable to accomplish that feat. They conducted research looking for the common theme. Unlike the popular notion, they found that you don’t need a single catastrophic event to change your habits and life. Yes, such an event can shake your world and change your behavior, but these transformations are uncommon. The common factor detected by scientists was developing a keystone habit.
Regular physical activity is one of the very few activities which belongs to the elite club of keystone habits.
People who exercise regularly are more likely to take better care of other areas of their lives. They start to pay attention to what they eat and drink; they have more energy, and that frees up new creativity; they are also more concerned about their spiritual and mental wellbeing.
I experienced it firsthand. For a long time, one of my very few good habits was doing a single series of consecutive pushups. Then I decided to shed some fat, change my diet, started reading personal development materials and acted on them.
Three years later, I am lighter by 15 pounds. I’ve earned about 50% more (I changed jobs and started a side hustle), bought a house, written and published 12 books, started four blogs (I still keep two), learned a lot about online marketing, became a coach and more. My life has totally revolutionized.
Beware of considering a keystone habit, as a quick fix. It’s not. I had been spending six years doing my pushups before any of the above happened.
Nonetheless, the time will pass anyway, so it’s worth starting your exercise habit right now to get the transforming results faster. If you are extremely busy, check out my fitness routine that takes me less than 15 minutes a day.
Get fit, man! The benefits go far beyond looking good.
Photo: Flickr/ Chris Ford