When we see you for your training appointment, we see more than just the smile and wave you give. We understand that the you that shows up is a compilation of what you’re going through physically, emotionally, and mentally. We know that the intensity and willingness with which you exercise may depend on how much sleep you got, the kind of day you had at work, and what is going on with your family.
If you find working out on a regular basis sometimes difficult, chances are you don’t want your emotions and attitude getting in the way, making things even harder. Here is what you need to know about the emotion/exercise connection:
- Got the blues? A study conducted with 153 college students found that feeling sad can make you less likely to exercise. In the study, the students were divided into 3 groups who each watched a happy movie, a sad movie, or a business documentary. The group who watched the sad movie (which was “Marley and Me,” in case you’re wondering) reported the weakest intention to exercise. Study author Jennifer Catellier stated, "feeling sad seems to depress attitudes about the behavior, meaning exercise doesn't seem as beneficial as it does to happier people," Catellier said. "So, ultimately, these people don't exercise."
- Feeling stressed? While working out can be an effective way to combat tension, too much stress can actually derail your workout. How so? It all has to do with your anterior cingulate cortex. That mouthful is the name of the part of your brain that is affected by stress and by working out. So if you come into the studio after a mind-wrenchingly stressful day, you might find yourself feeling a little more tired than usual.
- Feeling out of control? In a 2014 study discussed in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, researchers found that those who believe themselves to have control over their lives were much more likely to exercise and make healthy choices. If an aspect of your life is causing you to feel out of control, then you’re less likely to make fitness a priority.
- Feeling cynical? You might want to rethink your view of others. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Neurology, those who reported feeling distrust towards others had a higher rate of dementia late in life.
- Need an attitude adjustment? Good or bad, your attitude can be the sail that steers the direction your life takes. If you feel like you can do anything, you’re likely to kill it during your workout. If you feel instead instead like you’re worthless at all things exercise, well, today’s session is likely to be a toughie. And not only does your attitude affect your success, it can significantly affect those around you as well. (Just in case you’re feeling that you could use a little direction in the mood and attitude-improvement category, this list http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-ways-greatly-improve-your-attitude.html might give you some inspiration.)
The bad news? The poor emotional health you carry today can have some pretty serious impacts on your physical health. The good news? Your brain is a constantly-changing organism that is continuously developing different neural pathways and growing new cells. In short: it’s never too late to change your pattern of thought from bad to good, or from good to great.