We have all heard of the array of health benefits that come with living a healthy, fit lifestyle: you're happier, more energetic, and you sleep better, can combat disease better, have an enhanced sex life, are less stressed, and will probably live longer. But what about the benefits which extend beyond your body?
Your healthy lifestyle doesn't get the attention it should outside of what it does for you personally. Your clean diet and fitness routine is actually makes the world a happier, healthier place. Don't believe me? Here are three often-overlooked benefits of living fit.
1 / A Clean Diet is Environmental
Most exercise enthusiasts are cognizant of what they put into their bodies. Yes, they shop the perimeter of the grocery store, but many go beyond that and look for organic, local, and non-GMO foods. Health-minded people know that fresh meat and produce provide more nutrients and better flavor.
Markets which carry these types of goods and products usually get at least some of them from local suppliers. Local farms typically use fewer additives and chemicals during the raising of crops and animals. Fewer chemicals in our food and bodies means good things for the environment. Local farms are also usually accessible. You can see for yourself how things are run. If you're adamant that the beef you eat should come from grass-fed, free-range cattle, you can find out.
Food from local farms and ranches doesn't have to travel as far as food from giant, corporate farms. The production of those local strawberries you eye may have produced less greenhouse gas emissions and, if you purchase them, it may lower your carbon footprint. As with anything, it's good to read the fine print. Some define "local" as traveling less than 100 miles1.
Eating whole foods also means you generate less trash. The only waste associated with your food will likely be compostable food scraps and recyclable packaging—especially if you bring your own bag. You can also decrease your carbon footprint by continuing to shop at Bodybuilding.com. Numerous studies have found that e-commerce delivery uses less primary energy and produces less GHG emissions than traditional retail2.
Although it seems like supplements can generate a lot of waste, most of the packaging can be recycled. The next time you finish your protein powder and go to chuck the empty tub in the trash, stop, think, and recycle or re-use it. I use empty protein containers for storage or even as waste cans.
2 / Buying Local Supports Local Economies
When locavores buy food from farmers' markets or use independent shops, they support nearby farmers, businesses, and entrepreneurs. For some reason, it's commonly assumed that it's more expensive to buy local.
That's not always the case. But even if it is, you invest in your community's economic well being. Studies have found that buying local instead of nationally means more of your money is used to make purchases within your community.3
Supporting local business also helps keep your community unique. So, instead of a city filled with nothing but strip malls and other chain businesses, you support a place with personality.
3 / Your Fitness Inspires Others
You might not have noticed, but all those new friends you made at the gym help build a community. Building bonds in a healthy way can create positive changes. Your longtime lifting partner, significant other, and others you encourage to come to the gym with you are all influenced by your healthy lifestyle. That means you can have a direct impact on your immediate family, your circle of friends, and your community.
I used to think my family and friends were criticizing me when they bombarded me with questions about my diet. But over time, I realized they weren't judging me, they were inspired by me.
I began to notice that my friends, coworkers, and family members were mimicking my meals and my workouts. I recognized that I could influence positively the people around me—and that is a great feeling.
- Best, Elizabeth. (2010). "Good Intentions Always in Season at Farmers Markets." Pacific Standard. http://www.psmag.com/culture/good-intentions-always-in-season-at-farmers-markets-11036/
- Weber, C., C. Hendrickson, P. Jaramillo, S. Matthews, A. Nagengast, and R. Nealer. (2008, 2011.) Life Cycle Comparison of Traditional Retail and E-commerce Logistics for Electronic Products: A Case Study of buy.com. Carnegie Mellon, Green Design Institute. http://www.ce.cmu.edu/~greendesign/research/buy_com_report_final_030209.pdf