Most of the time we’re trying to make life a little easier for ourselves. Inside the gym we find one of those rare occasions where we’re intentionally trying to make life hard for ourselves. We create obstacles, devise challenges and problems for ourselves, and we do this repeatedly several times a week. Why do we do this? Because we recognise that without a form of resistance to overcome there’s no change, no growth, no physical development.
Most of us see the gym as a place where we can change how our body’s look and feel; a place where we can work on our physique and our physical fitness. How many of us see the gym as a place where we can work on our mental fitness? The benefits of a workout can reach far beyond the physical dimension, shaping our character and personality. Here’s how:
- Sticking to a workout regime requires will-power, self-control and determination to not give up when you feel like quitting.
- Pushing yourself physically develops your mental fitness by helping you to become more comfortable with uncomfortable situations.
- Keeping in mind that each workout is a means to a greater end, pushing your physical limits helps you view stress in a positive light knowing that it can make you stronger. It can help you develop the inner resources necessary to manage stress in other areas of your life, making you a more resilient person in the process.
- The effect of exercise has a significant positive spillover into other areas of our lives. People who exercise regularly often find it easier to make healthy changes in other areas such as healthy eating, mediating stress, and managing finances more effectively.
- People who engage in endurance exercise tend to perform better in situations that require mental endurance such as overcoming addictions or remaining calm throughout a long stressful event.
The attitude you approach your workout with is the attitude you approach life with. The context and variables may differ, but the principles remain the same. The gym is your training ground for physical fitness, for mental fitness…for life. Think about this the next time you pick up a dumbbell.
Netz et al., 2007. International Journal of Sports Medicine. ‘The effect of a single aerobic exercise session on cognitive flexibility in late middle-aged adults. Jan;28(1):82-7.
Crum et al., 2013. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. ‘Rethinking stress: the role of mindsets in determining the stress response.’Apr;104(4):716-33
McGonigal, Kelly, 2015. The Upside of Stress: ‘Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It.’ Avery Publishing Group.
Martin et al., 2016. PLOS ONE.’ Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment’ Apr. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154075