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Balancing act
Check in mentally and emotionally during your workout

By JOANN PETASCHNICK

 

Are you going to the gym more but enjoying it less? If you’re checking out mentally as you are working out, you may not be getting the full benefit from the experience.

"When we work out, we should be getting a mental ‘lift’ from it," says sports psychologist Cheri Cope of Athletic Mind LLC in Hartland. "Research shows that exercise can have a significant influence on your mood, spirit and self-esteem that will infiltrate everything in your life. They feed on each other," she says.

In order to get that mental lift, your first step should be to focus on a goal, says Cope. "What do you value in your life? What do you need? Do you want to get into shape? Be a more powerful person? Use that personal challenge to motivate yourself."

"A fitness program has to have values attached to it for it to work. You want to connect the values to the reason you want to work out," says sports psychologist Dr. Peder Piering of www.igniteyourlife.org.

"These goals help you to integrate it into your life. That is especially important if you are not in the habit of exercising."

When you get your mind into your fitness program, it won’t seem like drudgery, Cope says. "Develop a mantra or positive self-talk that you can repeat to yourself. It could be something like ‘I will be a stronger person if I work out.’ It’s a mental task that helps to motivate you. Some people need to be calmed down, others need to be pumped up."

Different types of exercise can also help you attain physical, mental and spiritual balance. "Yoga or a brisk walk can help you disconnect from the stresses of your day," Piering says. "The mind and the body are not separate realms. They need to work together."