We all know that the brain is the most important muscle in the body, and if you don’t exercise it, the result will be a weak mind. A weak mind often means a weak body as well.
There is a challenge here though: how do you bridge the gap between mental fitness and physical fitness? How do you make sure your brain is healthy enough while fueling your body?
The key is that there are mental exercises that translate to physical fitness. It is these exercises and practices that will make the difference in how your mind works and how your body responds. This is important because our willpower and our drive to do things comes from our brain. Science tells us that willpower is finite: there is only so much willpower your mind has until you refill that willpower tank.
With mental exercise though you can increase the capacity of your willpower tank and through developing good habits you can decrease the amount of willpower you need to undertake certain tasks. Therefore you actually have more mental capacity, and that leads to better physical fitness.
Here are five mental exercises for better physical fitness.
Feed Body and Brain
Weight loss and strength training are 20% what you do in the gym and 80% the food you eat and what you put in your body. The astounding news? That same diet has a lot to do with your mental fitness as well. Certain foods feed your brain and make it stronger just like you need a certain amount of protein to build muscle mass.
Here are some of the foods that help both your brain and your body:
– Beets: High in Iron, these root veggies are good for blood circulation, important to both body and brain. Just be careful not to drop them.
– Spinach and Kale: These veggies are high in nutrients that boost your brain power and help you build forearms like Popeye. (Just don’t eat it from a can)
– Nuts (in moderation): Almonds, cashews, and walnuts all have good benefits for your brain and contain good fats. Just don’t eat them in excess, otherwise that fat will do—well, what fat does.
– Caffeine: After a 10-year study on the use of coffee to stay alert, the Army has some great findings. Keeping caffeine in your body, but never at more than 400 mg in your bloodstream at any one time can not only make up for lost sleep and make you more alert, it also heightens the fat burning power of your body.
Feeding your brain and your body is one exercise that bridges the world of mental and physical fitness.
Make Work a Workout
Most of us have to work, and much of that work is sedentary, sitting in front of a computer at a desk or other such mundane activity. The thing is, we sit all the time. Our work may be good for our brains, but it is not great for our fitness. However, there are ways around this, and you can make work a part of your workout. Here are a few tips:
– Get a Standing Desk: Stand alternate hours or various times throughout the day. When you feel that afternoon lull, stand up instead of sitting.
– Do Chair Exercises: There are yoga moves and other exercises you can do without ever leaving your chair. Do five minutes of these every hour throughout your work day.
– Go for a Walk: On your lunch hour or on your break, get up and go for a walk. Even 15 minutes or a half an hour at lunchtime will raise your metabolism but will also make you more alert for work.
– Hit the Gym: Many employers have onsite gyms or provide gym memberships. Get a workout in (a mild one if you do not have a shower at work) on your break, lunch, or before or after starting work.
The thing is, even if you have a sedentary job and spend a lot of time at your desk, you can make work a workout, and improve both mental and physical fitness.
No, this is not going out to the dance club and showing off your moves. Instead, this is a concept where you take book clubs or other intellectual pursuits and divide them up: one hour of discussion about the book you are reading at the time followed by a half and hour walking discussion in smaller groups of three or four.
This combines the mental exercise of reading and analyzing, and the physical exercise of walking. This can be applied to school study groups, religious meetings, or even work meetings where you need to have breakout discussions. Combining the mental with the physical is a brilliant way to do mental exercise while still taking care of your body.
Blogging and Podcasting
Want to change things up a bit? Start your own blog or podcast about fitness, and then do research, listen to your own podcast or read over and correct your blog posts while you are on the treadmill or the stationary bike at the gym.
This is also a great time to do research. Audio books, other podcasts, and even reading articles can be done while you are exercising. Then sharing that research on your blog or in your podcast means you must understand the topic well enough to summarize and distribute it in and understandable format. This takes some mental power, and engaging in this while working out allows you to kill two birds with one stone.
Yoga for Bros
Sound cheesy? There are actually yoga classes for dudes known as broga. It is sometimes hard for men not to be distracted or to go into classes where there are a bunch of flexible young women when they are neither as flexible or as young. This allows the guys to get the same physical and mental benefits of yoga without some of the intimidation and other issues that go along with traditional yoga classes
Mental exercise is actually a big deal for physical fitness, but sometimes we need to be creative in bridging the divide between the two. Follow these tips for making the most of your brain and your body for optimal health.