leapingSound body, sound mind, sound finances? It’s true: The better your physical shape, the better the odds that your financial situation is in good shape.

It should be no surprise to hear that diet and exercise form the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. But why would a consistent exercise program do as much for you mind and your wallet as it does for your body? I was never able to control my eating habits, until I changed my exercise habits. I was raised (unintentionally) in a competition for who could eat the most. That’s fine when you’re 25, but I was out of control.

When I started exercising with intensity every day, it changed everything. I had the right motivation, my wife Kate (to whom I owe so much) promised to help me with my food issues, and I started to notice results. Seeing this progress was an incredible motivator for me and it helped transform the discipline into a habit.

Now, with a secure exercise regime, I can look back on it and see that the list of positive benefits doesn’t stop with physical fitness. Regular exercise can also provide psychological benefits such as:

  • Improved mood
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Enhanced brain function
  • Reduced mental fatigue
  • Diminished anxiety

These are all very good reasons to stop reading this article and head to the gym right now, but hang with me a second. If they are not motivation enough, then consider this: Research links regular exercise to higher salaries. According to Vasilios Kosteas’ study, published in the June 2012 Journal of Labor Research, employees who exercise regularly (at least three hours each week) earn 9% more, on average, than employees who don’t.

While researchers had long suspected there was a connection between exercise and income, they could prove merely that regular exercise was correlated to a higher salary. But Kosteas of Cleveland State University used a sophisticated statistical model, called propensity-score matching, to compare employees with similar work ethics and backgrounds (health history, education, experience, etc.) to establish the exercise-success nexus.

When exercise was the only independent variable, Kosteas found that exercisers regularly out-earned non-exercisers by 9% – and that it’s never too late to start. The study showed that employees who didn’t have a history of healthy behavior saw an increase in productivity after starting a regular exercise routine, and they often got a raise.

And I can tell you first hand: It has also been true in my own life. The combination of better health, more energy, less fatigue, more excitement about life, a greater belief in myself and an all-around better outlook has helped me raise my own game, increased my productivity and has paid wonderful dividends in my own business, as well.

Of course, you will get out what you put in and the transition from sedentary to active is not an easy one. Stick with it. As with many things, those who persist will gain the benefits. Even if you start working out regularly and it doesn’t show in your paycheck, you still have all the psychological benefits. If nothing else, you benefit financially in the form of lower health-care bills now and in the future.

So get out there and exercise.