exercise habit

10 Reasons to Work Out That Have Nothing to Do With a Sexy Bod

The greatest challenge in developing a permanent exercise habit is finding motivation that lasts. It’s easy to get to the gym when you’re preparing for that big beach vacation or want to look great for your high school reunion. But what about the rest of the time?

For much of my life I followed a pretty consistent pattern:

  • Get a bit fat.
  • Start to hate the way I look.
  • Hit the gym with a vengeance for a few weeks.
  • Start to look noticeably better.
  • Smugly enjoy my new found vanity.
  • Lose motivation and stop working out for a few weeks.
  • Repeat from beginning.

Vanity, it turns out, isn’t a great longterm motivator for most people. It wasn’t until I associated exercise with rewards beyond physical appearance that I was able to get myself to the gym 5-6 times a week without any lapses.

To help you bring consistency and enthusiasm to your exercise schedule, here are some powerful reasons to work out that have nothing to do with looking good.

1. Testosterone

This one is mostly for the gents (sorry ladies) and it applies to weight training. Testosterone is the essence of manhood. When you lift weights and gradually increase the level of resistance, your muscles produce testosterone. This gives you the energy, stamina, and aggressiveness you need to take on the world.

On days after a big weight training work out, I’ve experience a significant increase in energy. I tend to pop out of bed (I’m usually groggy) and feel more vigorous over the course of the day.

2. Clarity and Concentration

An active body has been linked to an active mind. The more consistently you exercise, the less prone you’ll be to grogginess and lapses in concentration. As anecdotal evidence of this, my best cure for writer’s block has always been going for a long walk, run, or hitting the gym.

3. Reflection

Exercise is a time to let your mind unwind while your body does the work. Strangely, when you stop actively trying to solve a mental challenge, the solution often pops into your head. Exercise is an opportunity for your subconscious mind to put together the pieces.

4. Enjoyment

Working out needn’t be seen as a chore or obligation. There are tons of enjoyable ways to exercise. For example, if you live in a scenic area, going for a run or bike ride along a beautiful route can brighten things up. Since I moved to Los Angeles a couple months ago, running on the beach has gotten me out the door much more frequently.

Other great options include: using exercise as a chance to spend time with friends and family, playing a sport or game, striving to achieve new personal bests, week after week.

5. Cleansing

Have you ever gone a couple weeks without exercise and noticed that you begin to sweat an exorbitant amount? That’s because sweat, along with toxins, tends to build up over time. Sweating regularly through exercises removes these toxins and will help you feel more comfortable.

6. Better Sleep

Studies have shown that exercise improves sleep. I love my sleep, so this is big for me.

7. Longer Life

When you choose to exercise, you’re making an investment, not just in your present physical appearance, but in the rest of your life. People who exercise regularly live longer and stay healthier into old age. If not for yourself, consider the family members that love and depend on you.

8. Stress Relief

Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress. This is a combined result of the benefits of cleansing, reflection, and a physical outlet for frustration.

9. Superior Strength and Endurance

About 4 years ago I went through a rough stretch where I gained 15-20 pounds in only a few months. Being unfit drastically changed the way I could move my body. It threw off my balance and made everyday tasks more difficult and uncomfortable. By exercising regularly, you’ll be better able to live and act, and in the event of an emergency, seize the moment.

10. Self Confidence

The sum of all these benefits is self confidence. (And, yes, looking good will help here too.) Greater self confidence is drives success, so its value can’t be underestimated. Exercise and fitness are an enormous part of reaching your potential.


  • http://foodformind.wordpress.com/ Avani

    One more that I know of is Happiness. Exercising boosts happiness. I used to fall into the pattern that you described above till I found that once I start exercising, my mood lifts up. I even googled on this and found it to be true for most people.

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      That’s a great point, can’t believe I left it out. :)

    • salim

      this is because your brain releases endorphins, while you exercise. endorphins are the pleasure chemicals

  • http://naturalandropausecures.blogspot.com/2008/03/do-you-know-these-facts-about.html Tonie

    Another reason would be quality of life, regular exercise adds to the quality of that longer lifespan which is just as important. Great blog I really enjoyed it!

    Natural Andropause Cures

  • http://www.craigharper.com.au/ Craig Harper

    Good Tips John.
    I’d just like to add, keep exercising even when your motivation is gone. Motivation is temporary! Make it part of your routine, just like brushing your teeth and having a shave.

  • http://www.adaringadventure.com/blog/wordpress/ Tim Brownson

    One of the ways I get myself to the gym is by always having an audio book on my Ipod. That way I get to work out AND learn cool stuff. It doesn’t seem so much of a chore then. I also agree about writers block. The majority of my best (or worst depending on your outlook)ideas come to me when I’m doing CV work. I did once read a scientific reason why that’s so. Something to do with oxygen sats, electrical pointy things and quantum fish dancing around in your brain. That may not be 100% right so don’t go quoting me.

  • http://stanleybronstein.com MrPositioning.com (Stanley Bronstein)

    You just described the perfect reasons to physically work out.

    All of those same reasons also apply to mental workouts. We must work our minds, or we will lose them.

    Mr. Positioning
    Stanley F. Bronstei
    Attorney, CPA, Author & Professional Speaker

  • http://www.rentalmetrics.com Doug Mitchell

    I would just add that while there are overweight and sedentary folks who ARE successful…it just seems incongruous for business leaders and owners to live that lifestyle.

    I’ve read pieces on the habits of uber busy/successful CEO’s and an overwhelming amount of them: 1) get up early and 2) include exercise in their daily routines.

    Exercise is human. It’s what we used to do to survive everyday. Of course we called it hunting, farming, chopping firewood, building our barns, etc. back then.

    I began triathlon training in October (trust me…well outside my comfort zone) and can now say that I am feeling all of your top 10. And on #1…I didn’t consider that. But why do I now watch Ultimate Fighting and Extreme Elite Cagefighting daily??? I’m actually looking for a boxing club in town to train in the sweet science. Oh my.

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Haha, yes. That testosterone produces some interesting side effects.

  • Alex Kammatsky

    Terrific article! Now I’m ready to hit the gym

  • http://thesocalledme.net Jenny

    great article.

  • http://www.varsityblah.com/about Eugene (Editor, Varsity Blah)

    Great post, John! I do yoga every morning and go running six days a week. That, together with regular weight training, really has left me feeling great. It’s exactly like you say as far as stress relief, sleep, clarity, and self-confidence. There’s nothing like feeling that sense of control and power over your own life. It really does make you feel on top of the world!

  • http://www.goal-setting-college.com Goal Setting College

    In my point of view, to make any goal really sustainable, it’s crucial to determine what’s the root desire driving the change. Like what you said, vanity offers temporary motivation. But why is it that someone wants to look good? To find a partner? And why does that person wants to find a partner? For the pleasure love and companionship? Or the avoid the pain of being lonely during old age?

    It’s great that you’ve pointed out some other great reasons for exercising. But likewise for vanity, unless one seeks to determine the real root desire that resonates with the individual, the potential of them lapsing is still there.

    Just my 2 cents worth. Good article, anyway!


  • ian

    “Sweat… tends to build up over time.” Might want to re-check your facts on this one, or at least link to whatever source you got this from. I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Otherwise, great article. It’s nice to see exercise being encouraged for its own sake.

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      I found a few articles on sweat and toxin build up and how saunas cleanse, but the sites weren’t really link worthy. I totally concede that this point is anecdotal. Still, I do notice I sweat much more if I don’t work out for a while.

      • Daniel

        he’s right… “sweat” doesn’t build up, but these toxins do. And there are only a few ways to release them and sweating is one.

  • ben

    where did you get that bike img? It looks amazing — could you email me / post the direct link?

  • Scott

    Life can hit you hard: car accident, slipping on ice, falling down stairs, etc. The more fit you are the better your chances of shaking off the damage. If you do take damage you will improve faster if you are fit. Think about lifting yourself into and out of a wheelchair after your legs are busted up. You’ll want to have some muscle and you’ll want your weight low. Think about the people who might have to help you. Can they lift you at your current weight?

  • http://morghus.com Morghus

    I stopped working out again after a while. It’s hard to motivate for it when you’re much more inclined to do something else.

    I’ll see if I can get back in the saddle, sort of speak, because I definately know what you mean. Too easy to be lazy though…

    Thank you for reminding me.

  • What?

    What a bunch of total crap.

    1. Muscles do not produce testosterone.

    2. Sweat does NOT “build up over time.”

    3. Sweat does NOT remove toxins.

    • Daniel

      Working out does increase testosterone. Research before you go opening your mouth and shooting down other peoples ideas. Men actually become more sexually active when they start to workout. It’s obvious you’ve never experienced the feeling of an amazing work out. Why post… when you’ve never tried/done it?

      • ian

        Working out increases testosterone production, but muscles *DO NOT* produce testosterone. Correlation != causation. The testes produce testosterone.

    • bob

      whoever left the 15th post is truly in need of a head inspection due to retardation

  • http://helth REV

    Side effects? Nonsense. People are on hormone therapy for the rest of their lives (multiples to boot) without having it affect life expectancy one bit, but rather prolonging it.

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  • http://helth REV

    The riff raff under the rock game. Create, don’t compete.

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  • http://webshopinabox.peter-tashjian.com/WebShopInABox.htm Peter T – webshop

    Good post. It’s important to get one’s priorities straight. This article helps where working out is concerned.

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  • Matt

    Great article. All of these points are 100% true, and I’m glad to see an article that really focuses on these benefits aside from just those concerning body image. Thanks! :)

  • http://www.healblog.net Heal

    Awesome article and so true!

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  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks, for those of you who enjoyed. For everyone else, sorry, I just do the best I can.

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  • Jon Lawton

    “Testosterone is the essence of manhood”: don’t talk bollocks. Testosterone is a f**king chemical, and if testosterone madeth man, every rapist would be a hero.

    Fortitude, resilience, moral courage, individuality and the willingness to stand alone when you’re outnumbered are what contribute to “the essence of manhood” (or personhood), not goose-juice.

    • Daniel

      loose your testosterone and see if you have any moral courage left.

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  • Daniel

    Great article and wonderful point.

    ignore negative posts… some people just don’t understand the feeling of being healthy.

    All of what you said is true… People who have worked out know it and people who haven’t refuse to believe it.

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Thanks Daniel. Don’t worry I am used to the criticism. :)

  • http://www.boredquiz.com Mental Quiz

    I work out every morning specifically to have clarity, good call

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  • http://sleeptreatment.com Jason

    Sleep is definitely important and good exercise certainly improves your quality of sleep. Good post. Thanks a bunch!

  • http://www.libidoandhealth.com/blog/exercise/ Tonie

    The most important benefit is that exercise is really pivotal to your sexual health, at any age!

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  • brian

    I completely agree. I recently bought a bicycle to use to ride about a mile to school every day, sometimes twice a day. It gets easier every day, I feel fantastic, and my mind is subsequently in better shape. For example, I don’t think about blown opportunities in my past so much because my muscles feel so tired after riding. But it’s a really good feeling of tiredness, like I have accomplished something important. Also, I now eat right; I eat decent meals, and not as much fried food, because I don’t want my bike-ride the next day to be harder. Since I started two weeks ago I’ve been hit on by women about 3 times, and gotten looks by numerous others. Biking is the way to go. (Oh, and I haven’t had to spend as much on gas)

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  • Liz

    This is great. I was looking for reasons to motivate my man to work out. I already do it but I do it because I want to take care of myself. He’s doing it to look hot for me. I was trying to get him to understand that working out is so beneficial that to say you would do it for a woman is just not good enough. What if we broke up? Does that mean he’ll stop working out? So When I read your post I thought, Jackpot! That’s exactly what I needed to see to get my point across. Thankyou so much for publishing this article.

  • http://www.puppy-training-at-home.com/ Ricky

    Good Tips! I am working out like crazy now to develop more self-confident which I think will also increase my productivity at work.

  • http://www.world-of-zune.com Headphone Reviews

    For me, the greatest benefit is just feeling great! One of the first things I do each morning is work out, before I go to work. This keeps my energy level high for the rest of the day. I do enjoy cardio exercise a lot more but a balance of cardio and resistance training is a better option.

  • http://www.mylifemotivation.com Matt

    All great points. As a fitness guy myself, I love the point about self-confidence. In life, confidence is everything and working out can definitely build it to great new levels.

  • anon

    If excercise felt as good as everybody says it does you wouldn’t need to keep telling people how good it’s supposed to feel. Excercise is boring and does NOT feel good. Nobody has to be told repeatedly how good sex is, yet something as ‘wonderful’ as excercise that supposedly feels so good, looses adherants all the time. Do people need discipline to have sex? Think about that.

  • Rocco

    I really think that all the points are valid n are true to a certain degree however to the last comment by anon, I don’t think sex is very good at all but the endorphin rush from a good workout and a general feel of self worth from regular exercise is more than enough to keep me happy on a day to day basis, for those who find exercise boring I suggest you vary your workout and also think that maybe you aren’t pushing yourselves hard enough, I get frustrated when I see people reading the newspaper on the exercise bike, surely you would want to challenge yourself a little more than that?
    However some exercise is better than none, but to stick to it means keeping it interesting and challenging, mentally I also believe it is like achieving a goal, if you can reach short goals in the gym and with your own appearance then it may actually get you to set higher goals in your own life and achieve personal success x

  • http://www.yourcosplay.com cosplay

    everything and working out can definitely build it to great new levels.

  • http://www.diet-and-recipes.com Michael Hines

    Hi there,

    This is a great list! I especially enjoyed reading the reflection part! For so long, I thought that I can do my work properly without being fit at all. I smoked, drank a lot but still for some reason thought that my mind will be clear and be able to solve problems!

    Boy was I wrong! You have hit these issues right on the head. Exercise is not just about having a body…so much more gives!

    Thank you for this post! It means a lot!


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  • http://howto-relievestress.com How To Relieve Stress

    A great article, I enjoyed reading it! Exercise for me is about feeling good and that is what it gives me. What is a sexy body is only defined by what the media portrays or what an individual thinks so really a sexy body can vary from person to person, however having a healthy body is always the same.

    Diane Shepard
    How To Relieve Stress

  • Yashkaran

    I realy abide by all d pts enumerated above….d outcome of excercise is so good…dat it makes u feel ecstatic…and makes u gradually lust for it….i mean nw my body has turned worth noticing….nt goin 2 d gym even fr a day…gives me d jitters…

  • Taylor

    Testosterone isn’t made in muscles. Testosterone is made in the testes. It is a hormone that influences the mind and spermatogenesis. Potassium calcium sodium magnesium and phosphorus are the primary ingredients in muscle contractions. Muscle contraction alters the ph of the muscle making it acidic which in turn makes the bloodstream alkaline because bicarb is taken from the bloodstream to balance the muscle ph. This results in deep respirations to blow off excess carbonic acid.

    Working out increases testosterone because it heats up the body and increases blood flow. Adequate blood flow and correct temperature provide the testes with the right environment for testosterone production. The body creates testosterone at a constant rate that can only be controlled by keeping the environment stable and correct. To hot to cold or not enough blood flow inhibits production.

    source – army medic

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  • Geust

    your both wrong

    • Zakkates

      If you know they’re both wrong, then what’s right? Lol

      • Gougoomba_choomba

        No I would disagree with you guest.. In fact Both are right actually.. Exercise increases blood flow and according to the knowledge that i have gained so far, blood flow is one of the major thing required for the testosterone 

        • N_b


          • Ben_1530

            love people who say other people are wrong, and when asked to back up their comment they respond with “whatever” Ha.

  • Keesha263

    all rightn stop the drama avery bodys wrong

  • http://twitter.com/Amenzone amenZONE

    This is so true. Great way to put it, #Champ! 

  • Xhysai

    testosterone are present for both male and female. It’s not just present to the male testes. For more info, please take a research.

  • Nick Christie

    I’ve heard that there is gland in a male’s buttocks that produces testosterone. If this is true, then this is why i’ve been told you have to work out your legs at the gym to get bigger, NOT just your upper body!

  • Kunchok Narpa

    Thanks for motivating me. I am joining the gym soon, thanks a lot

  • http://shopfella.com/weightloss Reduce Weight And Be Your Best

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.

    Simple but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!