Let’s face it, in our quest for good health, functional fitness and an inclusive environment, society and even the fitness industry have given a bit of a bad name to good looks. We all secretly laugh at the big guy doing bicep curls or the fitness-model look-alike in the crop top and hot pants squatting in front of the mirror.
While there are definitely more important and rewarding reasons for exercising and eating well – reasons like increasing your lifespan, improving your quality of life, reducing your risk of diseases like osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes – it certainly doesn’t hurt to throw some vanity into the mix.
For one, because one of the first benefits of exercise that you notice will be an improvement in your appearance. Even before the numbers on the scale or the measuring tape change dramatically, before your cholesterol or blood pressure readings drop, you will start to notice things like glowing skin, brighter eyes, better posture, and a firmer physique. Sometimes it’s easier in the short term to get excited by the first appearance of your abs than it is about the fact that you won’t spend your twilight years hooked up to a dialysis machine, even though the latter is certainly a more worthy concern.
The other benefit of looking good is that you will attract positive feedback from the people around you, and this will encourage and motivate you. People are much more likely to compliment you on your looks than on the fact that you just increased your bone density.
Looking good, and being happy about the way that you look, also gives you more confidence, and with extra confidence comes the courage to try new things and attempt new personal records, whether that be in your exercise, your diet, your career or your social life. The cycle of attempting new things, learning, setting and achieving goals will further increase your confidence and your belief in yourself, and this can only benefit you in all areas of your life.
So while aesthetics is not the most noble or worthy value to have in your fitness, it is a sweet little reward along the road to improved health, longevity and quality of life. When you’re training hard and being disciplined in the kitchen, you deserve to take pride in and even flaunt your aesthetic gains. You may even inspire the people around you to make some healthy changes themselves.