How mentally and physically fit are you?
Do you workout to the point of exhaustion yet feel like you are getting nowhere? Do you have a love-hate relationship with exercise? Do you need an attitude adjustment? Are you mentally weak or tough? Exercise does not need to take a lot of time or special equipment. If you have not exercised in some time, don’t worry. Walking is the safest and easiest form of exercise and has many health benefits. But first you have to have the right mindset to step your way to better health.
How Mentally Tough Are You?
You have probably achieved some of the fitness goals you have set during your life. But you have probably failed to reach certain levels of physical fitness as well, haven’t you? I know I have. So why did you succeed in one physical endeavor and fail in another? Was it because you were not “mentally tough” when you needed to be? Was your mindset to blame? And if it was, how can you change that?
Dr. Jim Loehr is a globally recognized performance psychologist. He wrote a wonderful book titled Mental Toughness Training for Sports: Achieving Athletic Excellence. In it he discusses and defines mental toughness, revealing that it is made up of the following 7 components:
• attention control
• minimizing negative energy
• increasing positive energy
• maintaining motivation levels
• attitude control
• visual and imagery control
He uses the word energy twice and the word control 3 times in defining the 7 dimensions of mental toughness in physical endeavors. And while the actual meaning of mental toughness may vary from one expert to the next, controlling your energy has a lot to do with your ability to accomplish any physical fitness goals.
By controlling and directing your mental and physical energies, you are able to set a habitual course that improves your ability to achieve the physical goals you set. Do you believe that your mindset will determine your fitness success? Or to ask you another way,……
Does fitness, and your state of physical health, rely mostly on mental toughness as proposed by Dr. Jim Loehr?
To help you out here, let’s look at an example. Research in the past few years has shown that 60% to 80% of your physical appearance and fitness will be determined by your diet. So nutrition is obviously very important.
But let’s take two identical individuals. They are the same age, same height and weight. They both enjoy a healthy diet. But after work, Subject A heads straight for the couch and the remote control. They watch television until bedtime, go to sleep late, wake up tired and start the process all over.
Subject B exercises in the evening. She makes sure that she drinks plenty of water throughout the day, goes to bed at a decent hour, and gets plenty of rest. In the morning before heading off to work, she exercises. On her lunch break she goes for a walk outside her workplace rather than spending that time stuck to her office chair.
Which one of these two individuals is going to be in better physical shape? It is obvious that subject B will enjoy a healthier and more physically fit body. And it’s because she programmed her mind to consciously adopt a healthy lifestyle, which over time becomes an unconscious habit.
However you define it, mental toughness has to be present to some degree for you to reach your physical goals.
But you cannot simply sit on your couch and think about the level of physical fitness you want to achieve. You have to take action. You have to exercise. You have to adopt a healthy diet, drink adequate water and get plenty of rest.
You might say, “but I don’t have time to exercise”. If you have time to sit on the couch in the evening like Subject A, you have time. Start by walking. Walking is the easiest and safest form of exercise. Not only that you can find time before, during or after work to walk. You can walk in 10-30 minute increments. Walking provides many health benefits both mentally and physically.
6 Benefits of Walking During Your Day
1) Improve Your Circulatory System
When walking, your heart rate increases, thus moving more blood over a given period of time. More blood to the cells means a better transfer of oxygen in and carbon dioxide and wastes out. By strengthening your circulatory system, you reduce your risk of heart disease, along with lowering your blood pressure.
2) Lower Your Total Cholesterol Ratio
Walking also has another effect on your blood – it raises your good HDL while at the same time lowering your bad LDL cholesterol. A better cholesterol ratio means less chance of developing plaque that narrows your arteries and causes a stroke.
3) Improve Lung Capacity
When you walk, your lungs have to work harder to get air in and out. In the process, your lungs will not only gain capacity, but get more efficient. More capacity and better efficiency helps with carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange.
4) Manage Your Weight
As a form of exercise walking burns extra calories. A 15-minute walk after lunch at 3 mph will burn around 60-70 calories depending on your weight. While this doesn’t seem like much, it amounts to 300 calories provided you do it 5 days a week. Just think how many calories you can burn walking longer than 15 minutes.
5) Improve Mood
The benefits we talked about up to this point have all been physical, but walking also has a mental health benefit to it too. A daily walk can help relieve stress.
6) Boost Your Brain Power
With your blood flowing faster while walking, better oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, and reduced stress, the brain functions better than it would if you had not walked. And the positive effects carry over for hours after you are done walking. This translates to you being able to get more done during your day with less stress.
Take all of the actionable steps you need to create the body and lifestyle you desire, and combine them with a persistent and confident mental focus. You may just find that the physical barriers of your past become the physical achievements of your future. Simply by getting out and going for a walk.
To learn more about the benefits of exercise along with other steps you can take to better your mental and physical fitness read, “Seeds 4 Change: A Path to Health and Healing”.