6 benefits of spending time in the gym

I might look a little bit too fit in your eyes, but hey. Everybody has a different definition of “fit”. It’s one of the benefits of spending time in the gym as I really like myself when I look in the mirror.

I don’t do it because I have to. I do it because I want to. Over the years, the gym became my sanctuary as I get so much more out of it.

Here are my top 6 reasons why I spend hours in the gym.

I like myself when I look in the mirror

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I haven’t told my gym buddies either. Ready? Here it goes … I don’t care how much I lift. “So what?” you ask. Well, for people going to the gym and lifting weights it is a big thing. Their main goal is to lift heavier. Maybe also looking good as a result but mainly lifting heavy.

I couldn’t care less how much I lift. If I bench press 80kg, 90kg or 100kg, I don’t care. One of the main benefits I spend time in the gym is to get the body shape I want.

If I get up in the morning, look in the mirror and like what I see, that’s when I’ve achieved what I set out to do. It makes me feel good and boosts my confidence which is another nice side effect.

Bodyweight

The same thing goes for body weight. I don’t understand people stressing so much about their body weight. Ok, if your weight affects your health then you need to look at that, regardless if you are too light or too heavy. But stressing about 2 or 3 kilos?

Let’s say you are reaching your target bodyweight of XY kg. Take your shirt and trousers off, step in front of a mirror and ask yourself if you truly like what you see.

Are you super happy with what you see? Or are you thinking, well, I could be a little bit slimmer, bulkier, trimmer, leaner, bigger? Why not forget about the number on the scale and work on what you see in the mirror instead?

By the way, I don’t obsess about how I look. I don’t look at myself with a magnifying glass. Body obsession can be quite bad for you and can consume more of your life than you want.

Sleep quality increases dramatically

Christmas and New Year is usually the time when I take a break from the gym for about two weeks. Your body needs a break here and then so don’t feel bad about not exercising for a week or two.

But this is also the period when I realise how much working out benefits my body. The effects of not working out start to show after a week or so. For me, the first thing I notice is the decrease in sleep quality. This affects two things: How deep I sleep and the number of times I wake up.

Deep sleep

When I exercise, I have such a deep sleep which feels very satisfying. I have to have my alarm clock on loud otherwise I would only hear it after some time. But, it would turn itself off before I realise the alarm went off. You have to shake me to wake up.

This, in turn, feels very satisfying after a night’s sleep and makes me feel energised the day after. Even though I might only have had 6 hours of sleep. After some time of not working out, I don’t seem to reach that level of deep sleep. At least, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels different and not as fulfilling and satisfying. And I start to miss that feeling of satisfaction.

Waking up

I also don’t wake up during the night if I’ve exercised the previous days. Not once, not even to go to the bathroom. As I have a very deep sleep outside noise doesn’t bother me that much.

That, in turn, means I only wake up when my alarm clock wakes me up. I don’t wake up by myself in the morning. No chance. If I wouldn’t have my alarm clock I would sleep something like 10 to 12 hours straight.

So waking up in the morning is something I’m not used to. When I don’t work out for a few days I start to wake up in the mornings after about 7 hours of sleep. I might go back to sleep if I decide to do that. But I wake up, sometimes with no outside influence, i.e. no noise, and I find that very annoying. It doesn’t feel natural to me.

White electronic alarm clock on bed

It de-stresses the mind

As soon as I enter the gym, get changed and step onto the gym floor “Me time” starts. For most guys who go to the gym, this is another aspect of the benefits of spending time in the gym.

In contrast to other people, I leave my phone in the locker. There is no need for it when I’m working out. I won’t miss anything and any urgent stuff can wait for 2 hours.

That also means I have breaks between sets to think about things and not get distracted by my phone. With no phone, I can’t look at social media or get annoyed by something that someone said or did. My focus now goes into my workout.

Embracing time alone allows me to think things over. And think about stuff more thoroughly. Most of the time I come up with solutions for issues in those moments. A funny side note is people actually see that I’m actively thinking about stuff. Either I move my lips as if I would talk to myself or just stare into the floor or wall. Mentally, it allows me to get away from things.

Endorphins

Grounding myself gets amplified by endorphins released by my body due to the workout. Endorphins and grounding myself makes for a powerful combination. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in your body. They are a natural remedy against stress. Hence why it’s important for me to make it to the gym after a stressful and hectic day. Things don’t seem as bad anymore afterwards.

Working out with a friend

Right now I am working out alone again as I go to the gym early morning. But even when I used to work out with a friend it can be stress relieving. Both of us have the opportunity to talk about problems at work or at home which makes us feel better.

We voiced our issues and got a second opinion on them. We both had somebody who would listen. It’s always beneficial to talk to a good friend and have a gym workout at the same time. Healthier than going to the pub anyway.

When it’s cold outside, sauna after a workout is bliss

Unless I exercise a big muscle group or have a very intense workout I’m not breaking a sweat during my workout. I do sweat, but not extensively. To sweat a lot, release toxins and heat my body up I do enjoy 15 minutes in the sauna after a workout.

This is especially enjoyable when it’s cold outside. I don’t tend to do it in the summer because it’s warm outside anyway and I don’t want to sweat even more than I already do.

Sitting in a hot sauna is one more of those relaxing things to unwind. After a heavy workout like back or legs, it feels good to finish off the session with it. For me, this is definitely one of the benefits of spending time in the gym.

Sauna with two windows and round benches

Long showers keep the flu away

I’m one of those people who take ages to get ready. Part of the reason is I take long showers. It’s not environmentally friendly as it wastes a lot of water, but that’s another topic. I like to stand under the shower and think about things. It’s like during sets in the gym, my mind wanders and starts to drift off thinking about problems and how to solve them.

There are actual health benefits of taking a long shower. From treating high blood pressure to tackling flu and coughs.

Workouts counter the sweet tooth

I know a few people who don’t like sweet stuff. No chocolate. No candy. Sometimes I wish I was that lucky. I have to be incredibly disciplined with my lifestyle when it comes to food because I have a very sweet tooth.

Chocolate, cakes and pastries are my weak points. I know how bad they are for me, especially when not consumed responsibly. But they taste soooo good. On the bright side, when I do end up eating some sweet stuff, I don’t have to feel guilty. Even though I sometimes do.

Due to my active lifestyle, I burn a lot of calories and a pastry here and there is not going to show a massive difference in the mirror. That is, provided I am not prepping for a bodybuilding competition. But for normal fit people, due to your lifestyle, you can allow yourselves a treat here and there.

This point ranks high in my benefits of spending time in the gym as food is important to me.

Final thoughts

Looking at above I’m not surprised I’m not stressed that often. And if I am, it only lasts for a short period. The lifestyle we live determines our capability to deal with stress and illnesses. The healthier and balanced our lifestyle the better we can absorb those ups and downs. I live a healthy lifestyle and gym life plays a big part in it.

To summarise, here are my top benefits of spending time in the gym:

  1. I like to see a fit me when I look in the mirror. My worst nightmare is getting fat and overweight. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t obsess over every inch of my body.
  2. The quality of sleep my body adopts is amazing.
  3. Gym sessions are de-stressing for me. They help me to relax and switch off from daily life and work.
  4. Sweating in the sauna after a good gym session works wonders.
  5. Long showers keep me healthy
  6. I need the gym to counter my sweet tooth.

Just because I spend hours in the gym doesn’t mean I work out for hours. It’s the whole process that takes hours for me. That includes the workout itself plus any aftercare, i.e. sauna, shower etc.

Are you spending time in the gym? Are you one of those people who take their time or need to get in and out really fast? Let me know in the comment section below and don’t forget to sign up to my blog.

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