The Olympics are awe-inspiring, although NBC's lengthy delays mean I already know about Outer Slobovia's victory in synchronized hedgehog water polo. That's quite a feat, since the hedgehogs must be larger than 2 meters (or, in American, 27.3 gallons) and because, technically, it is a sport that does not exist.
I've also been inspired by our great USA athletes displaying the courage to overcome even the most repugnant obstacle imaginable: British food.
Working out works out
Another reason to whip yourself into shape is that you'll make more money. According to a Cleveland State University study published in the Journal of Labor Research, regular exercise can give your paycheck a boost of 6 percent to 9 percent. And, according to the author, Vasilios Kostea, the more you exercise, the more you make.
"While even moderate exercise yields a positive earnings effect," Kostea writes, "frequent exercise generates an even larger impact." He adds that the subject needs more study.
One area I hope will be explored is whether the kinds of people who exercise regularly make more money because they are naturally more disciplined and goal-oriented, or whether the benefits of exercise, such as lowering the effects of stress and improving your mood, focus and energy, can boost the paycheck of just any old schlub.
Don't spend big, dream big
Before you order a closetful of workout clothes and install a home gym, make sure your exercise regimen doesn't cost more than the earnings you hope to add. Walking around the block, for instance, is free. Wherever you work out, make it close to work or home so you can put in at least three hours of exercise a week, the minimum amount that the study found to be effective. Letting an unused $45 gym membership pile up on your Visa bill will cost you more than $500 a year plus interest, and until you go from flab to abs, you won't be getting any raises to help pay for it.
Still, if you earn $50,000 a year, the fitness benefit could add $3,000 to $4,500 to your income. And, when I hoist my beer can in celebration of my big Olympic win, I'll not only get a gold medal but also the winning athletes' honorarium of $25,000 (or approximately 27.3 euros).
My only worry then will be whether my overstuffed wallet makes my butt look big.
(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)