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Mental Toughness and Fitness: Why the Two are Related

Mental toughness increases the likelihood that you will achieve your fitness goals. Confidence, mental clarity, the ability to stay calm under pressure and control over debilitating thoughts are some of the reasons behind the success of competitive athletes. When you adopt these same characteristics of mental toughness, it often leads to enhanced fitness outcomes.

Increased Confidence

The greater your level of confidence as you approach a task, the greater the likelihood that you will achieve success. If you set out to hike up a steep hill or mountain with full confidence that you will reach the top, your confidence generates a strong act of will. You might experience fatigue as you set out to achieve your goal, but approaching the task with confidence makes it less likely that you will give up. Mental toughness keeps you steadfast in the pursuit of your fitness goals.

Achieving Mental Clarity

Another element of mental toughness is clarity. When you clearly identify your fitness goals as well as the steps you need to take to achieve those goals, the end result is often positive. If you approach fitness with a vague longing to improve your physical shape without a clear plan in place, the chances that you will attain your desired goal are lower. However, if you set out with mental clarity, knowing that you want to be able to run five miles a day, for example, and that you will give yourself six months to reach your goal, you are more likely to endure the ups and downs involved in accomplishing a strenuous fitness goal.

Staying Calm under Pressure

Mental toughness includes staying calm under pressure. You have very likely seen competitive athletes who have to perform under intense scrutiny. They achieve their goals by not allowing the pressure to get to them. Likewise, when you set out to achieve a personal fitness goal, you might have your own pressures to deal with. Maybe you are in an aerobics class where others are fit and you are just starting out. Maybe the pressure you are under is self-inflicted; you might be frustrated with yourself for not being as flexible as you used to be. Whatever the case may be, the key is to stay calm under this type of pressure and not allow the stress to get to you. You will achieve your goals through diligence and persistence.

Controlling Your Thoughts

Mental toughness involves having control over your thoughts. In a situation where your fitness level is not where you want it to be and your negative thoughts are getting the best of you, you have a choice. You can let the negative thoughts take over and drain you of energy, or you can consciously choose positive thoughts that empower you and push you to press on. For example, if you are lifting weights and realize that you cannot do as many repetitions as you would like, your mind might start focusing on how out of shape you are and how you will never reach your fitness goals. Mental toughness in this situation means consciously noticing the things that you are able to do well and honoring your efforts with positive thoughts.

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