Fitness is not just about physical changes. It also includes the mind-body connection. This is the belief that our attitudes, thoughts, and feelings can actually have an impact on our physical well-being and health. The other side of this connection is that our mental health can be affected by how we treat our bodies and physical attributes.
This is also a belief that one effect can have a positive or negative impact on the other. Sometimes physical symptoms or illness can also be caused by psychological or social factors. This could include your relationships and coping skills as well as your ability to manage your emotions.
The mind-body link refers to using your thoughts in order to influence a bodily physical outcome. How does it work Your body reacts to an event in the same way it would if it actually happened. Consider this: Have you ever been nervous about giving a presentation? Most likely, you imagined all the possible problems. Your mind gets even more confused, your hands sweat and you feel nauseated. This is due to the mind-body link. Even though you may only be imagining bad outcomes, your body is actually reacting physically.
This relationship works in both directions. Your mind can be affected by what you do to your body. You may feel lethargic if you eat a large meal of processed foods. The discomfort you feel isn't limited to your body. It can also impact your mood, thoughts, and feelings. Fresh foods can lead to a boost in energy, clearer thinking, and a greater sense of well-being.
The best part is that you can turn this connection to your benefit. It can be used for many purposes. You can use the mind/body connection to increase your mental wellbeing and reduce anxiety. This practice can be used to improve sleep quality, reduce pain, speed up recovery from injuries, increase your immune system, and improve your sense of control.
This is true for fitness as well. In the context of the gym, you may have heard the mind-body connection (or the mind-muscle connectivity). It involves focusing on your muscles while you exercise. This helps you to move them with more efficiency and proper form. This can help you achieve better results than if your workout was interrupted by music or friends. Mental fitness is the same as physical fitness.
The benefits of channeling your mind-body connection during exercise
Your form will improve if you pay attention to your muscles while you are working them. If you are doing bicep curls and watching TV, your elbows might be too far away from your body, or you may be throwing the weight around unconsciously. Focusing on the movement allows you to focus on the form and execute the move correctly with a full range.
Mental fitness can actually improve your strength. Participants completed a six-week low-intensity training program in a 2017 study. Participants were required to exert a high level of mental effort while doing the workouts. The other group was required to do the same. The results of the study showed that participants in the high-mental effort group had greater strength gains than those in the lower group, even though they did the same workouts.
Muscle Mass Increases
One study showed that focusing on the muscle you are working on while you contract leads to greater muscle growth. This means that focusing on how your muscle feels when you work increases muscle fiber activation, and recruitment, and leads to greater gains.
Get More From Your Response
Although it may seem obvious, focusing on your muscle will help you be more in tune with all aspects of your biological feedback. This allows you to respond in a way that suits your body, increasing weight or reps according to what it is telling you. These cues are likely to be missed if your mind wanders while you work out.
Keeps You At The Moment
Exercise can also be considered mindfulness meditation. This is a way to focus on the present moment. It's easy to tune in to a podcast while working out, but you lose sight of the main reason why you are exercising. The mind-body connection allows you to be intrinsically focused on your movements. This makes a big difference in your results and mental fitness.
Improves Performance And Results
Better performance leads to better results. This can make the difference between working out and phoning in to check off the task list. You might exercise for mental health benefits, but the real benefit to your body is in the connection with your muscles. This will help you stay fit and healthy.
How to channel the mind-body connection during workouts
It is simple and easy to use the mind-body connection. You can use it in your own workouts by focusing on the muscle that you are contracting. Some people find it helpful to look at the muscle as you perform the exercise. For example, if you are doing tricep kickbacks, you can see your triceps in the mirror.
Mentally picturing the muscle can be very helpful. As you do a squat imagine your quads and glutes contracting and lengthening as you go. To help you mentally connect, you can even place your hand on the muscle to feel its contraction. You can, for example, place one hand on your glute while you do a single-leg deadlift. The other holds your weight. Consider how your muscle feels under your hand, and the contractions you feel.
You can also use Google to research the muscles that each exercise targets. It is possible that you are focusing on the wrong muscle group or that one exercise works for all of them. Knowing the target muscles, especially for more complicated movements, can help you improve your mind-body connection.
Whatever your fitness goals, the mind-body connection will help you achieve them. Even though it may take time, mental fitness can lead to big results you can see. Our LivingWell wellness retreat can help you achieve your wellness goals.