We typically view fitness as superficial and purely physical for aesthetic or performance-related benefits. Although the physical health benefits of fitness are abundant, it also offers an array of mental wellness benefits. What do I mean by this? I started my fitness journey because of how it positively impacted my mind and mental wellness. The strong body is merely a bonus.
MEDITATION IN MOTION: Mental presence and connecting with yourself in a distraction-free manner is one of the benefits. Many people dislike meditation due to the notion that you need to be sitting under a tree in total silence, that is not necessary though.
Fitness is meditation in motion because you are fully present with yourself within the moment. Being fully immersed in the present moment and invigorated is a form of meditation. Being present with yourself leads to better decisions and self-reflection.
Connecting with yourself leads you to make decisions based on your authentic self, rather than the voices outside your own. Without time to reflect, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it is fairly difficult to make decisions based on your own values. Meditation in motion assists in carving out the necessary me-time that we all need. Fitness is also meditative in that it helps channel any negative emotion into a healthy activity, thus creating a shift to a more positive perspective at the end of the workout.
SELF-BELIEF AND BEING YOUR GREATEST VERSION: Taking time to improve yourself and be your greatest version is another mental health benefit of fitness. Every single time you workout, whether it is in the form of lifting weights, cardio, swimming, or yoga, you are improving your performance through practicing. Your speed, strength, and endurance will increase from the last time you practiced by the mere fact of doing it over and over, which makes you see progress.
The self-improvement piece will strengthen your mind in that it shows you that you are capable of improving other areas of your life as well if you see fit. You will find yourself breaking limits you never thought you could reach before. When you realize you can do difficult things, everything else in life can feel less daunting. Your self-talk will also improve, not in a fake way where you feel forced to think positively, but because you are genuinely starting to build up your self-belief to higher heights.
Fitness, regardless of the type of exercise you choose or prefer, enhances your ability to keep your promises to yourself. Your relationship with yourself and self-esteem are aspects of your mental wellness which increase with the proof that you can set goals and stick to them. As well, overcoming challenging repetitions increases your self-confidence. Enhance your ability to set goals and stick to them.
STRONG MIND AND NOT SETTLING: Building muscle and a stronger body creates a stronger mind. If you can strengthen your body through your fitness practice, you can strengthen your mind. This can improve your mood and your ability to get very confident in all other areas of your life. It shows you that you are capable of strength, which translates into a better ability to go after your life and work goals, in addition to the capacity to stand up for yourself.
Many people do not recognize their own capacity and unique strength, fitness actually helps you create your own definition for your life and enhances your confidence in being who you are. Fitness provides physical proof of strength, which means you feel gradually more and more capable of doing bigger and more difficult things.
Fitness also tends to make people less fearful of confrontation when necessary. I have seen many otherwise timid people grow into more bold, driven, and passionate people after having taken a simple self-defense class or having started a weight training routine. When you realize you can always take your fitness to a higher level, you start to look at ways to upgrade all of the other areas of your life. Fitness teaches you the power of not settling for less.
DISCIPLINE: The very core of fitness and staying true to any routine is self-discipline. Mapping out a plan, executing the plan, and switching between exercises and a variety of repetitions engages the brain in ways that most people do not realize. In order to successfully progress through a workout plan, one must activate both the muscle group, their body, as well as their mental concentration. If you are distracted and multitasking during your fitness practice, you will fail to achieve muscle growth and results due to the missing mind-to-muscle connection.
With fitness, the results are earned, you thus realize you cannot grow without doing the work. Those who take their fitness regimen to the next level understand the power of focus and take the power of their minds to a higher level, which is why fitness is amazing for the brain and mental wellness. In any sport or fitness routine, there is always another goal or level to achieve, the self-discipline muscle thus will continue to grow.
Fitness also teaches you which foods enhance your routine, and which foods detract from your routine. It takes some effort to figure out how to stay within your caloric needs and how to manage your diet, all of this leads to a great deal of consistent discipline.
About Karisa Karmali
Karisa is a Human Resources professional by day and entrepreneur by night. Being the founder of Self-Love and Fitness, helping busy professionals and driven people level up athletically is her mission. Providing efficient fitness equipment and customized programs is how her mission comes to life. You can connect with Karisa on Twitter and Instagram.