Most athletes train their bodies every single day. However, many times the same care and discipline is overlooked when it comes to training the brain. How important is mental strength to achieving the highest possible physical performance? It could very well be the key. Conversely, studies are also revealing how endurance exercise is an important factor in brain health and even beneficial in treatment for neurological and other medical conditions. The role of physical endurance has long been at the center of many scientists and anthropologists theories. Research points to movement and strength on how it shaped the body and helped our early ancestors to survive. But interestingly as humans passed down the genes that led future generations to become more athletic, they were also becoming smarter.
As athletes continue to up their game in terms of performance, mental fitness is playing a key role as well. When training induces pain, it is natural to react by wanting to quit. But setting your mind on the ultimate goal, and making sure you believe you can do it, has extreme power. In simple terms, we are what we think so thinking positive thoughts will produce positive results, just as thinking negative thoughts will stop your progression and hold you back. Mental training can be as difficult, or more than, physical training. Building mental toughness along with the physical body will bring about incredible results.
Just as developing a mental training routine will improve your physical wellness, so too does the physical positively impact your mental state. A recent study at Harvard Medical School’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that endurance exercise turns on genes that boosts brain health and promotes the growth of new nerves in the brain. Endurance exercises are key to maintaining proper weight and important to cardiovascular health and improved muscle strength.
In addition, findings have shown that physical endurance training can benefit muscular dystrophy patients. Professor of Neurology John Vissing, MD, PhD, of the National University Hospital in Copenhagen, Demark studied a group of nine patients who used a stationary bike for 30 minutes, five times a week, at 65 percent of their maximum oxygen capacity. Dr Vissing and his team reported that moderate intensity endurance training is a safe method to increase both exercise and daily function.
While studies on endurance training and the brain are ongoing, one thing is certain, exercise not only gets us up and moving benefitting the whole body but also gives us a healthy, and all natural, mood boost.