The mind is a beautiful thing. It can break your spirit, or it can make you feel unstoppable. Clearly, we all want the latter, and when it comes to fitness, if you can harness the power of your mind to set you up for success, then you'll have a much more productive workout.
The way you think about things can either help or hurt you when it comes to working out. It would help if you were mindful of what thoughts are running through your head before, during, and after a workout to maximize the benefits of exercise for both body and brain. It can be a little difficult to learn how to control your thoughts, but certainly not impossible.
In practice, it's all about changing the way you think and what you focus on. Steering your thoughts to the benefits you'll receive from exercise is very important. If the only thing going through your mind is how much you dislike walking on the treadmill or dread your workout, then this negative thinking can negatively influence other areas of your life.
Once you start to change your negative thoughts into more positive ones, the cycle will continue and eventually lead you to exercise more. Here are some simple yet effective mind hacks to help you get in the zone for a workout.
1. Create a playlist of your favorite songs to get you pumped up
Music is a great way to focus your mind on something other than your workout. When you're having a good time listening to your favorite music, it can help you forget about the beginning part of a workout that's not so fun. Make a playlist consisting of all your favorite upbeat songs. You can even add a few "pre-workout" songs, so you are amped up before your workout begins.
Not everyone shares the same workout music preferences, though. If you're not a fan of hip-hop or hardcore rock, don't put on this type of music when exercising. Instead, find music that you'll like and use this as a strategy to help get your mind in the right place before exercising.
2. Make sure you have the right gear and clothes for what you're doing
A lot of people find working out to be a chore. They'll put it off or work around their workout schedule, so they don't have to go through the process of getting ready for their day. However, you can do your workout and getting ready easier by ensuring you have everything you need beforehand.
If you're a runner, don't wear a T-shirt and jeans or tennis shoes. If you're lifting weights, make sure you wear the appropriate clothing (shorts and a tank top, for example), so you're not distracted thinking about how uncomfortable you are. If you're doing cardio make, sure your clothes fit properly to avoid chafing.
3. Set goals for each workout
Having a routine won't do you any good if you're not improving your fitness or pushing yourself to get stronger, faster, or more fit. But it's easy to get caught up in a routine that you begin to wonder why you're even working out at all.
A way to combat this is by creating goals for each workout. For example, if you're lifting weights, try to make sure you lift more than last. If you're doing cardio, make sure to run a little faster or go for an extra five minutes. Remember that the point of working out is to improve and get stronger, so you must always be pushing yourself to do better.
4. Eat a healthy meal or snack before working out to give yourself energy
If you're hungry, then your workout will suffer. If you have the energy to burn while exercising, then it's easier to push yourself harder and for longer periods of time. Eating before a workout can mean the difference between a productive and useless session.
Make sure to eat about an hour or so before going to the gym or beginning a workout. This will give you enough time for your food to digest, but not so much that you'll feel bloated or uncomfortable. Consider adding vegetables, lean meat, and some carbs to your meal. This gives you the energy to get through your workout without feeling sluggish or nauseous.
5. Drink plenty of water before and after your workout to hydrate
It's also important to drink enough water every day. Dehydration can happen during your workout, making it harder to focus and leaving you feeling tired afterward. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink about 16-20 ounces of water one to two hours before working out, 10-12 ounces during your workout, and 6-8 ounces after your workout to stay hydrated.
6. Warm up before working out
Before every workout, it's important to do a few minutes of cardiovascular exercise. This will help you get the blood pumping in your body and warm up your muscles, which decreases the risk for injury.
For example, you could do a few jumping jacks before your workout to get the blood flowing. It's also a good idea to do some light stretching before your workout. This will help you loosen up and prepare for your workout ahead.
Cooling down can be just as important as warming up before a workout. This helps promote blood flow and also allows you to bring your heart rate back down to normal.
7. Get enough sleep so that your body can recover from the workout afterwords
Exercise is often referred to as a stressor on the body. If you're working out too much or too intensely, it can actually become a source of stress on your body.
When you exercise, your muscles are actually being broken down so they can rebuild stronger the next time. The key is to allow your body enough time to rest and recover from the workout. This means getting enough sleep so your body can repair itself.
A healthy body is a happy and productive body. If you're physically fit, then it's easier to accomplish your other goals and maintain a positive mindset throughout the day. So make your workout part of your routine and stick with it regularly to see results.
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