Former US President, John F Kennedy, believed the following about fitness: “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” Fitness is so much more than having a body in pique physical condition. It’s also about ensuring that your mind is healthy and strong.
When people speak about ‘fitness’, the first thing that comes to mind is outward appearances. A person who is perceived as being physically fit is seen to have a lean and toned body or, otherwise, well-defined muscles.
However, what happens if these aspects can’t be seen? What if the person is carrying slightly more fat than they should? Should you discount that person as being unhealthy and not caring about their fitness levels?
Before we delve into what physical appearance is, we need to highlight that there are a number of types of physical fitness. These are:
- Muscular endurance and strength.
You can perform fantastically well in one area but perform dismally in one area. For example, if you’re a cyclist you’ll be incredibly aerobically fit. However, if you don’t train with weights regularly you won’t have much strength or muscular endurance.By the same token, if you’re an avid weight lifter, you’ll be incredibly fit from a muscular endurance and strength point of view. But if you don’t regularly do cardiovascular exercise – such as rowing, running on the treadmill or cycling – your cardiovascular fitness levels won’t be good.
When we speak of ‘mental fitness’ we’re talking about your mind being in top condition. Your brain is a muscle and needs to be exercised just as muscles in other parts of your body do. The more that your exercise your brain, the fitter it will get.
As you can’t send your brain to go and work up a sweat on the treadmill, there are a number of ways that you can remain mentally fit.
Take up Yoga
In today’s world of the Internet of Things and Big Data, where we are being bombarded constantly with data that we need to draw useful information from, our minds are constantly flitting from one thought to another.
We never take the time to check in with ourselves and to listen to our bodies. Are we feeling tired and stressed out? Do we feel a cold coming on? Do we need to take a break to rejuvenate? We’re always pushing ourselves because of outside stimuli – pressures, deadlines and the like. We ignore our bodies trying to tell us that it needs some attention as well. And because we ignore these signs, we become less mentally fit and become less able to think creatively and out of the box.
Classified as a mind-body exercise, Yoga centers. It focuses our minds on the hear and now and forces us to listen to our bodies. It does this by requring0 us to focus on its slow and steady positions because if we don’t concentrate on what we’re doing, we could very easily lose our balance and hurt ourselves.
Start Exercising Outdoors
Exercising in the gym is great. However, being outdoors and in nature when you are exercising provides you an extra added benefit for your mental health and fitness. When you’re outside, you can feel the wind and sun on your face. You can breathe in fresh air. You’re not distracted by the music playing in the gym or the television screens. The natural elements help to focus your attention on what’s going on within you and allow you the headspace to come up with answers to questions that you’ve been grappling with and, in so doing, allows you the mental freedom to start tackling other things.
Fitness has a lot of different meanings. Many people interpret the notion of being fit very differently. However, at the end of the day, you need to be happy with how you look and how you feel fitness wise. People can tell you exactly what they think that you should be doing in terms of fitness, but this is what they feel. It’s not you. You need to decide how you want to approach your fitness journey because, if it comes from you, you’ll stick to it.