“Visualize the win” is one of those phrases that all athletes have encountered at one time or another. Affirmations and visualizations are by no means a new addition to training tactics of athletes. It’s well recognized that a positive mindset during training and competition will help you push yourself even further and perform your best.
For good reason, these methods continue to be used and promoted. But new research has emerged that really gives weight to the whole practice. What does this study show? How can you use the information to improve your performance?
A significant body of evidence already exists that links personality traits, such as stress management, with cardiovascular health. Researchers at Florida State University College of Medicine, however, wanted to understand this connection more fully. While previous studies had explored the effects of personality on overall cardiovascular health in respect to lifespan and predisposition to illness, this new study hoped to reveal the connection between cardiovascular fitness and certain personality traits.
During the course of the study, 642 participant were assessed on neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. These five measurements were then used to create a profile to determine how resilient their personality was.
Each subject then had their resting and walking energy expenditures measured. The study found, when all the numbers had been compared, that subjects with more resilient personalities were more physically fit. These people walked more quickly, had a greater aerobic capacity and used less energy.
Because the ability to maintain healthy energy levels is directly associated with longevity and the prevention of age-related diseases, the study shows that a positive, resilient personality can actively lead to a longer, healthier life.
What You Can Do
It’s all well and good that being positive can help in so many different ways, but what if that’s just not who you are?
As frustratingly simple as it sounds, try to think more positively. Many studies have indicated that people who practice positive self-talk experience less stress and all of the negative side-effects that it brings with it.
For example, instead of just thinking “I’ve never done that before,” focus on the fact that it’s an opportunity to learn something new. Practice putting these positive spins on things that you deal with in your daily life and you’ll quickly notice that you feel less anxious and more energetic.
In relation to your fitness routine, those age-old affirmations are just as good now as they ever were. Continue to encourage yourself and focus on what you’re capable of accomplishing. A major step toward building self-confidence is setting achievable goals.
Each time you set, and reach, a progressive goal you will see that you are capable of doing more and more challenging things. Measure your progress, as well, whether it be in your mile time or weight, to have tangible proof of how far you’ve come.
But it’s worth noting that the researchers in the above-mentioned study discussed the importance of having a resilient personality. This means more than just positive thinking. It means that even when you face a hardship, maybe even taking a few steps backwards, you have the ability to recover.
Even if you do fail to reach a goal you set for yourself, try to turn that experience into something positive. Use the frustration you felt as a motivation to improve.
Have you experienced the power of keeping a positive view? Please share your experiences in the comments.