What effect does exercise have on our state of mind? How does it improve our way of lifestyle to give us the ability to create a more rounded life? How does exercise ground us and allow us to come out of that rut we are in?
I believe that exercise is so critical not only to be able to keep us physically healthy and fit but is essential to our mental wellbeing. We spend a lot of time tracking our physical gains. We see how much muscle we’ve put on, how much weight we’ve lost, how much faster we can run. However, we rarely track our mental gains. How has that voice changed in our head? What is all that chatter that’s going on up there? And how is it helping us or hindering us achieving our goals? I believe that for a true transformation we must look at both sides of the equation, instead of only favouring the elements that we can see.
‘Where the mind goes, the body will follow.’
You might have heard that phrase before. If we don’t have the motivation and create a habit to do the things that we want then they won’t happen. As we know it’s in our mind where our motivation and habits are formed, so it’s worthwhile working on improving your mental fitness so that you can get your body where you want to get it. If we spend time focusing on how we can make ourselves mentally and emotionally fit then we will find it easier and easier to create positive, lasting habits that allow us to fulfil our dreams and aspirations. It’s like building muscle memory for our minds, when it gets to a certain time or we get to a particular place and we instinctively go to perform a habit that we have installed within ourselves. It becomes automatic and effortless to go through the motions to motivate ourselves.
So, how does exercise help us become physically and mentally fit? For most of us the obvious effects are the physical gains, we can see when we get slimmer, fitter or stronger. Cardiovascular exercise in particular helps:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Strengthen your heart
- Reduces body fat
- Increases your muscle and bone strength
So what happens upstairs in your mind? When you go for a run, lift weights in the gym, go for a walk, etc. Your body releases endorphins into your body. These endorphins flood your body and make you feel good. Ever felt amazing after doing exercise or heard someone say they were on a high when they were playing a sport? This is because of the endorphins that are flowing through your body at that point in time. Endorphins reduce stress, anxiety, and help you sleep better as a result. So the act of doing that exercise releases the endorphins, which makes you feel better. Therefore, I see the aim of becoming mentally fit is to be able to train yourself to be able to switch on the motivation to do exercise whenever you what. When you have mastered your thinking and exercise you are training your mental and physical fitness simultaneously, even though we only really put our attention on the physical.
It becomes automatic and effortless to go through the motions to motivate ourselves.
Imagine if we were more aware of our mental fitness and were able to change how we thought about exercise. Instead of dreading it, we could be really excited for it. Instead of forcing ourselves to get on with it, we could make it effortless to get out for that run or go to the gym. Our mindset and our attitude towards our health and fitness is the first thing we need to get right if we are to succeed in our targets and goals. If we are not properly motivated, if we don’t have the attitude that will give us the drive to create lasting, positive habits, then it will catch up with us and impose its will. The choice is ours to make, do we really want to be what we say we want to be? Are we chasing our own challenges and ideals? Or are we looking to gain acceptance, or attention from others?
What is our motivation for getting out there and exercising?
We have the power to change whether we want to win at our own goals or fail. It is a matter of choice. This is why we need to focus on our mental fitness and treat it with the same gravitas as we do with how we want to look in the mirror.