Author: Kristina Olsevska
Healthy body – healthy mind might be as clichéd and overused a statement as they get, but it’s getting more relevant by the day. With everything being just one swipe away, it is now more convenient than ever to replace real-life activities with online ones. Why should I physically drag my body to a store, if I can order my groceries via an app? Likewise why should I bother getting my rear end off the sofa to go to gym, if a simple surgery will fix all my problems and imperfections?
Well, a number of prominent scholars have found evidence that shows the positive effects exercise has not only on our physical health, but also on our mental, cognitive and social health. Buckle up and let’s go back to 2000, when Biddle, Fox and Boutcher did some extensive studies on the matter, and when Britney Spears made it to the top.
a) Physical activity and exercise have consistently been associated with positive mood and affect (one’s propensity to experience positive emotions and interact with others and with life’s challenges in a positive way).
b) A positive relationship between physical activity and psychological well-being has been confirmed in several large-scale epidemiological surveys using different measures of activity and well-being.
c) Exercise can be used as a medium to promote physical self-worth and other important physical self-perceptions such as body image. In some situations, this improvement is accompanied by improved self-esteem.
d) The positive effect of exercise on self-perceptions is likely to be greater for those with initially low self-esteem.
e) The link between fitness and cognitive performance is task-dependent, with the most pronounced effect in tasks that are attention-demanding and rapid (e.g., reaction time tasks).
On top of all that, many more recent studies have suggested a solid evidence that regular exercise enhances feeling of control (Weinberg and Gould, 2015), improves positive social interactions (Raedeke, 2007; Bartlett et al., 2011), hardiness & a personality style that enables to withstand or cope with stressful situations (Weinberg and Gould, 2015), learning, memory, attention and executive processes (Ludyga et al., 2016) – some of the main ingredients that are needed to become more productive and chart one’s way to success.
Motivation is not what ought to push you forward. Like time, weather and the opinions of others, motivation is not something you can control and rely upon. It can easily fade away in a split second. Hence, you need to count on something that is at your own disposal and that you can control.
Like micro actions.
The best takeaway we can give is that if you struggle with motivation (as we sometimes do), it is essential to focus on the little steps.
For instance, if you don’t feel like exercising today, instead of thinking: “Ohhh, I’m too tired”, think: “I know I feel tired, but let’s just put the sneakers on; if I still don’t feel like going, I’ll take them off”.
Then, all dressed up, focus on the next micro action that doesn’t take much effort, like: “It won’t hurt to step outside. Even if I don’t feel like exercising then, that’s fine, I can always turn back and go home. No judgment.” Just keep pushing yourself into doing the next small action that keeps you moving forward.
It’s a compound effect. Each small action leads to an enormous result. No one feels remorse after a good workout, but everyone feels bad when they skip one. Plus, now that you know all about the extra benefits from exercising, why not try? Remember, each tiny step takes you closer to becoming more productive and successful in your life.