Intangible Benefits of Daily Fitness

Army Reservist performs a plank pose.
Army Reserve Sgt. Demos Moore, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the 377th Chemical Company, 485th Chemical Battalion, 76th Operational Response Command, performs a plank pose at a gym in Richmond, Virginia. (Sgt. 1st Class Brent C. Powell/U.S. Army Reserve photo)

We all had that friend who was the best athlete on the team, did not have to train and was still the fastest guy on the field. Many people find the same thing occurs with workouts. You invite a friend to join you at the weight room or for a run, and they are able to hang with you, even after you have trained consistently for a year and they haven't been training at all.

Don’t let that deter you from a daily fitness routine. There are many intangible benefits of daily fitness that your all-around talented buddy could be missing.

First of all, physical and athletic ability is a gift or talent. Some people have more of these natural talents than others. Be thankful to your genetics for that. But some also have more heart than others. Be thankful for your consistent good work ethic for that.

Developing natural ability to its fullest potential requires work and desire as well. Imagine if the highly talented also would put in the work. Well, it is not that difficult as you see those who have reached their full potential as professional athletes or Olympians.

Here is a list of intangibles and character traits that everyone can obtain if they put in the work consistently.

Consistency is key. The first intangible that is required for anyone to receive the tangible and more intangible results of fitness is being consistent. You will find that once you start being consistent in one area of your life, it will spread to other areas as well (profession, family, health, nutrition).

Discipline. Your self-discipline will evolve from your initial motivation to why you started this journey in the first place. After creating daily habits through your consistent efforts, you will be able to rely on your discipline when days get long and your motivation and energy levels are waning.  

Gain confidence. Confidence is an intangible quality that occurs after you start to see the results of your efforts. Do you go out for the team? Do you serve your country? Do you go to that job interview? All of these questions are challenges accepted when you have developed your abilities and gained confidence from your work.

Productivity. You will find that as you journey into the world of consistent fitness programming, the productivity throughout the rest of your day also will be higher. The ability to focus with clarity also comes with a regular fitness routine.

Improve sleep. With the new sleep study and adjusted sleep requirement changes recently published, getting more quality sleep is critical to your long-term survival from the daily stresses of life.  Fitness allows for you to fall asleep faster and deeper.

Relieves stress and anxiety. Largely due to the increase of activity and the ability to sleep better at night, the stress-relieving benefits of exercise are doubled with these working in your favor.

Improves academic performance. Studies have shown that people who did high-impact exercise learned faster and had better memory recall and retention.

Fights depression. Getting out and moving has been shown to fight depression as well as aid in recovery from dependency on drugs and alcohol. If you are having a problem breaking bad habits, try starting a good habit. Typically, success is associated with two habits: One you start and one to stop.

You do not have to be a world-class athlete to achieve the above benefits of a fitness program. The ability to work hard to achieve a goal is far more valuable to achieving the same goal without any effort. Regardless of what goal you have, you will gain far more from the journey than the actual accomplishment. Fitness is not a destination but a journey that yields the lifelong tangible and intangible benefits.

Also, if you are thinking you are not athletic enough to become a member of the military or military special-ops programs, understand that these jobs simply require desire and a never-quit work ethic that takes time to develop.  Sure, you need a high level of fitness to meet and exceed the standard, but anyone can have an above-average level of fitness. Sure, athleticism helps, but hard work helps more. Success in these jobs is only created through patience and time spent building up a level of durability to withstand the storm of training and the job itself.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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