MENTAL STRENGTH AND SPORTS: WHY ATHLETES HAVE A MENTAL EDGE
It’s no secret that exercise has an impact on your physical appearance. When you train, your muscles grow, you burn fat, and your body becomes toned and defined. But did you know that it’s not just your body that changes, but also your mind? Read on to find out more about the relationship between training and mental strength and why athletes have a mental edge and drive, like no others.
YOU BECOME MORE FOCUSED
Working out stimulates your body’s blood flow and boosts your circulation more than when you’re resting. Not only do your muscles benefit from the increased blood circulation in your body, your brain is also provided with more oxygen which makes you feel more awake and focused. Studies have even shown that certain bio-chemical substances can be transported better with this increased blood flow, which improves the brain’s efficiency. Long-term effects of training can even entail the facilitated formation of new synapses and the consolidation of already existing brain connections. This means that regular training can improve your overall concentration and can even influence your efficiency, productivity and creativity. So remember this: next time you feel stuck with a task that requires a lot of brainwork, the best thing to do is to get your running shoes on and get your body and mind moving faster.
YOU BECOME MORE DRIVEN
Perseverance. Grit. Willpower. Call it what you want – when you stick to your plans and goals, you will achieve them. Commitment is the most important driver for getting there. Add consistent training and exercise to it and the impossible becomes possible. Progress fuels your persistence and becomes the natural motivator to continue, defying your initial doubts. You become more and more ambitious and trust in your capabilities. How is this triggered by physical performance? Even small victories can help convince your mind that anything is possible. This unconsciously extends to your professional or private life, where you also benefit from this persistence and belief in yourself that you have developed during training. You’ve already surprised yourself once with your progress. Why not again and again?
YOU BECOME MORE CONFIDENT
Did you used to get nervous talking in front of people? Were you scared of the unknown or unfamiliar situations and insecure about your capabilities to tackle particular tasks? With regular training, this becomes less likely to happen. As you get closer to achieving your dream body and become more confident with your physical appearance, you also learn to deal better with stress, anxiety or even depression. How? When doing sports your body produces more endorphins – the so-called happiness hormones – that can lift your mood, strengthen the immune system and reduce our stress sensation. Studies have even shown that people who exercise regularly tend to be more successful than those who don’t. Not necessarily because they are more intelligent or talented. Very often, simply because they are more confident to take risks, more ambitious, disciplined, strong-minded and willing to work hard for their goals. Might be worth giving it a try, don’t you think?
YOUR MENTAL STRENGTH IS LIKE A MUSCLE: TRAIN IT
In the end, mental toughness is much like a muscle: It grows when you train it and it shrinks when you don’t. If you never push yourself and instead always stay in your comfort zone – nothing will change and you’ll be exactly like you were yesterday. Choose to pass this threshold. Often, it’s your mind – not your body – telling you that you can’t do something. Prove it wrong and increase both your physical and your mental strength.