Think Confident, Be Confident

Cognitive Therapy techniques for eliminating doubt and achieving lifelong self-esteem.

Why Exercise is a Life Skill

The act of exercising can be a microcosm for everything

The act of exercising can be a microcosm for everything you tackle in life. Participating in exercise, whether it is a formal class in a gym, using fitness equipment, participating in a sport or active hobby, walking, taking on nature, running steps, or any physical effort, involves, commitment, effort, perseverance, and follow-through.

Like anything in life, the only way to maximize making something happen is to define a goal and commit to it. When one is on the path to being in shape, specific fitness goals are essential. Whether your fitness goal is to increase your level of conditioning, build strength, improve cardiac health, increase flexibility, or boost your speed, commitment is critical. Committing to your goal means you have made it a priority, scheduled time to make your goal happen, and actually participated in the doing. It may mean compromising work and leaving a task incomplete or assertively saying no to extra hours, missing cheering on a family member on the athletic field or the stage, or getting up earlier than you would like. The key is to remember that you don't have to compromise everything all the time, but some level of compromise is going to be necessary to make your fitness goals happen.
Succeeding in life requires effort. The same is true when enhancing your fitness. Pushing yourself to endure discomfort is part of getting and staying fit. Think of the pride you feel when you succeed in running further or faster than you believed possible, lift the heavier weight, spin at a higher resistance, use your core to hold a position longer than you ever thought possible. The sense of accomplishment one feels when completing a challenging task is confidence boosting and better prepares you to face future challenges.

Perseverance means you don't quit. It means sticking with the task no matter how difficult it seems. It takes a strong mind to convince your body to hang in there. When you persevere in exercising, you learn to have what it takes to face anything.

Leaving a goal unfinished reflects lack of follow-through. It is not enough to do something once or for a short period of time, the key is to follow-through forever. Sometimes a goal is short term and once completed you can move on, but fitness is a lifetime goal. Embracing fitness as a life time goal is great practice for achievements that require long term dedication.

Leslie Sokol,Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is the co-author of Think Confident, Be Confident.

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