Some folks hate exercise. Literally. They despise it. And you can sorta see where they’re coming from. It ain’t exactly a pony ride.

  • It’s time-consuming.
  • It’s tough.
  • Your body aches.
  • Your butt smells like goat cheese. (No? Anyone? Awkward.) 

But the story gets a little more complicated. Because some folks LOVE the shit outta exercise. They adore it. They can’t live without it. They’re addicted. They’ll do it everywhere: in the gyms, on the street, in the fields, in a dingy YMCA.

Why such a strong divide?
Why do folks work so damn hard when they don’t have to?
What have exercise-lovers discovered and can they pass that motivation along to non-gym users?

Let’s analyze this exercise obsession. Here you have it…

The Top 6 Reasons Why Exercise is Amazeballs

1) Exercise is Amazeballs because it makes you happy. Like, for real.

I don’t mean this in an esoteric way. I mean it very literally. You’ll feel awesome after you exercise. Immediately. Intensely. Unequivocally. Study after study confirms the direct relationship between exercise and increased feel-good hormones, including a study that suggests high-intensity exercise modulates the brain very much like cocaine (well damn, now we’re talking) [1]. Another recent study confirmed that serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the hippocampus were significantly increased by exercise, suggesting physical activity can help manage depression [2]. Plus, there’s no crash and no hangover. An intense high with no hangover? Sign me up.

Even in the 1800s Henry David Thoreau knew what was poppin:

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

- HDT 

Both science and great American poets agree: physical activity and happiness go hand in hand.

2) Exercise is Amazeballs because it makes your life easier.

Being stronger, leaner, happier, and more capable can make for a more manageable life.

  • Your boss needs you to get that box? Yes ma’am, you can get that box.  
  • Your neighbor needs you to rearrange his furniture? Damn right buddy, you’ll move that couch.
  • Your homeboy needs you to carry him home from the bar? Saddle up, cowboy.

Training increases your capabilities. That’s the law of progressive overload — lift something a lil bit heavier each day, get a lil bit stronger. Run a lil faster each day, get a lil bit, um, faster. A body that is increasingly capable makes for a life that is increasingly manageable (read: awesome). 

3) Exercise is Amazeballs because it helps you win at life.

Setting and achieving goals inside the weight room helps you set and achieve goals outside the weight room. The goal-setting/goal-accomplishing cycle is a learned trait. From a very early age, winners start to reinforce this idea that if they set their mind to something and tirelessly work towards its accomplishment, the outcome will be positive. 

Archbishop Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens said it well,

Happy are those who dream dreams and pay the price to make those dreams come true.

Initially, these victories are small. But eventually, the accomplishment (or foundering) of our goals comes to define our life. This same cycle repeats itself on a daily basis with our exercise. For example, if you’d like to be able to do a pull-up you might:

Do seated rows.
Do inverted rows. 
Do lat-pull downs.
Do assisted pull-ups.

Set-work-achieve-rinse-repeat. The more you reinforce hard work with a positive outcome, the more you think of yourself as a winner. If we get good at winning at exercise, we can be good at winning at anything.

D. Exercise is Amazeballs for your family & friends, too.

I don’t want to get too froofy-cuddle-muffin (it’ll ruin my street cred) but the people closest to you rely on your love, energy, and compassion. Taking care of yourself is an homage to them because a strong and capable body has so much more to give. In fact, honoring the relationship to your body is a profound step towards honoring your relationship to others. This holds true for young mothers, aging grandparents, and loving husbands. Making time for exercise is absolutely, positively, in NO WAY an act of selfishness. Quite the opposite; it is an act of generosity.

It’s short-sighted to use our commitment to others as an excuse to neglect ourselves:

I can’t go to the gym. I need to take care of my kids. 

- Moms Everywhere 

Your kids deserve the best version of you…a version that is constantly challenged and improved with a rockstar exercise routine.

5. Exercise is Amazeballs because it is a celebration of our good fortune.

We’ve been given a body that is strong, fast, and agile. It is truly a work of art.

Take inventory. If you are fortunate enough, you have…

  • Two strong legs that can carry you anywhere you damn well please. 
  • Two strong arms that can lift lots of really heavy stuff.
  • A strong core
  • A strong heart
  • Strong hands

I could go on. It all works. Every day. It works really well. In fact, if you stop and think about it, it’s baffling just how impressive it works. Exercise is a celebration of these gifts. 

6. Exercise is Amazeballs because it makes us sexy.

Let’s be honest…the ladies like a guy with a little sweat on his brow. And the broski’s like a babski with a little chalk on her hands.

These are only a few of the million reasons why exercise is Amazeballs. The take-home is incontrovertible: an awesome relationship to exercise makes for an awesome life. 

Something sorta/kinda like this article was originally written for The Greatist on Feb 4th, 2013.

[1] Behav Brain Res. 2013 Feb 15;239:8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.10.035. Epub 2012 Oct 26. Daily treadmill exercise attenuates cocaine cue-induced reinstatement and cocaine induced locomotor response but increases cocaine-primed reinstatement. Thanos PK, Stamos J, Robison LS, Heyman G, Tucci A, Wang GJ, Robinson JK, Anderson BJ, Volkow ND. Source: Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA; Behavioral Neuropharmacology and Neuroimaging Lab, Medical Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA; Dept. of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.
 [2] Int J Sports Med. 2012 Jul;33(7):525-30. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1306325. Epub 2012 Apr 13. Exercise intervention may prevent depression. He SB, Tang WG, Tang WJ, Kao XL, Zhang CG, Wong XT. Source: Department of Neurology, Zhoushan Hospital, Zhoushan, China.

It is my mission in life to cultivate people’s relationship with exercise. But I need YOUR help.

Tell me why you think exercise is Amazeballs and let’s set up an entire homage to sweat…

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