Exercise is challenging, but not just physically. It will test your mental fortitude as well. Most of us fight the discomfort of physical and mental exercise, but I’d love to tell you how it has changed me for the better because I believe it can do the same for everyone.
Most of us know the basics about the mental benefits of exercise. It releases endorphins that make you feel great, it relieves stress, and it reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of those positive mental effects of exercise, but here are a couple more to add to that list.
Exercise can build good characer traits. You are building self-control when you choose to go to the gym as planned even though your friends just planned an impromptu happy hour, or when you choose the higher reps or the heavier dumbbell or the longer run when you know less, lighter, and shorter would be easier.
We do not want to be impulsive people who don’t have the ability to tell ourselves no, so let’s take every opportunity in the gym to improve our self-control.
The same goes for perseverance. We want to be people who can survive hard things without giving up. Exercise is meant to push you. You can absolutely expect to want to give up sometimes, but it’s what you do in those moments that tells you what kind of character you have.
These are good practicing grounds. If you can develop this in the gym, you can grow in maturity in your relationships, your workplace and your personal life. We all want to be honest, trustworthy people of integrity. All of those things can be developed in part through exercise.
I know my character is stronger now after pushing through some mentally tough moments at the gym, but my favorite mental benefit of exercise is definitely the increase in self-confidence.
It is so gratifying to know that even though you wanted to quit, you kept working and accomplished a goal. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced this.
Opportunities for success are abundant in exercise if you set good goals, and so these moments of choice between giving up and pushing through happen every day. It gives me so much confidence to know that I am not a quitter, and that my body and my mind are capable of incredible things, even when I think they can’t possibly go one more step.
I started exercising at my lowest point mentally and emotionally and it has been a huge tool in helping heal my self-efficacy. I am so grateful for that.
I challenge you to go into your workouts with not only physical goals of strength and endurance, but mental goals of confidence and strong character as well. And when you feel like quitting or taking the easiest road, remember that these are defining moments. We have this opportunity to work out our weaknesses and become the person we always wanted to be.
Let’s take it with gusto and let’s bring it out of the gym with us when we leave.