I’ve been noticing that more and more gizmos, online tools and fitness books are coming on the market to help people exercise and get fitness results.
However, you’d get a huge bang for the buck (actually forget the bucks), if you used your MIND as an exercise and fitness tool.
It’s not as hard as you may think!
Your thoughts control everything from how fully your muscles contract to how difficult an exercise feels. You must use your mind to get the best and quickest results from your efforts.
1. Are you working on your abs or core strength? Set a difficult goal. You may just achieve more than you thought possible. In study after study on human performance, people who aim for a specific goal significantly outperform those who just aimed to do the best they could. People generally underestimate their own abilities. Aiming high allows you to push past your own perceptions.
2. Do you ever get bored, particularly when you do cardio exercise? Many people tend to focus on boredom, fatigue or discomfort while they do their cardio routines. That usually leads to those sensations feeling even worse! Instead, try focusing on unrelated thoughts. I read about one study where researchers instructed one group to try and recall the names of every teacher they’d had since kindergarten while cycling for 15 minutes. Another group was told to focus on their exertion level. The name game group found their routine to be at least 10% easier.
3. Do you get tired or discouraged while doing your strength training? While staying focused on what you’re doing, try filling your mind with affirmations. Make up some of your own or use ones like “I can feel my muscles growing.” Positive thinking lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Also, motivational self-talk boosts performance.
4. What do you use your mind for when you’re waiting on line or generally waiting for something or someone? You can use your mind and imagine yourself doing a push-up, for instance. Picturing an action activates the nerves that make muscles move and triggers an actual contraction. Please read that again, because it’s a very crucial point in understanding just how important your mind actually is in what you can accomplish.
Studies have shown that people who practiced exercise visualization for 5 minutes a day were able to increase their muscle strength by 35% in 12 weeks, without ever stepping into a gym.
Of course, don’t forget to use visualization when you ACTUALLY exercise! Always imagine yourself using proper form as you move.
5. As you complete your chores, what do you think about? Try thinking about the muscles you use to do daily chores. Carrying things up and down stairs, for instance, works your quadriceps, butt muscles and hamstrings. Again, concentration strengthens the neurological connection between the brain and the muscles, prompting the body to use up to 30% more muscle fibers during a movement. This added muscle action helps speed muscle growth while increasing caloric expenditure. That’s a GOOD thing!
So remember that your mind is not only an incredible tool in your health and fitness journey but it’s free and accessible to you ALL the time!