A Happy Athlete Is A Better Athlete

Affirmations and visualizations aren’t anywhere near a new addition to the athletes toolbox. Untold numbers of athletes, regardless of their sport, have likely been told to “visualize the win” at one point or another. You reject thoughts like “I can’t do this” that will drain your energy and try to constantly encourage yourself.

And while these methods continue to be used because they seem to work, a new study adds weight to this practice. What are the findings? And how can you use this to improve your performance?

The Study

Building on the body of evidence that already links personality traits and cardiovascular health with longevity, researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine set out to understand this link more fully. Specifically, the scientists wanted to shed light on the relationship between personality traits and cardiovascular fitness.

The study observed 642 people, ranging in age from 31 to 96 and assessed each for neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Based on the measurements of these five traits, a profile was completed for each person to determine how resilient their personality was.

The subjects’ energy expenditures were then measured at rest and during normal and maximal walking. On comparing the results, it was reveled that those with more resilient personalities not only moved more quickly but their also had greater aerobic capacity and used less energy.

These findings suggest strongly that a positive personality can go a long way in, not just improving physical fitness now, but also at increasing longevity and health down the road.

What You Can Do

But what if that’s just not who you are? Simply put, try to think more positively. Numerous studies have indicated that, in all areas of life, those who are more positive experience less stress and therefore are free of the many negative side effects anxiety.

In regards to your sport, though, those old affirmations seem to be powerful tools. Encourage yourself and build your confidence in what you’re capable of. A major step towards strengthening your self-confidence is goal-setting.

An achievable goal with help you to challenge yourself and give you a reason to be proud of yourself once it’s reached. Keep building on your goals, making them gradually bigger and more difficult. Tracking your improvement, whether it be your mile time, weight or any other measurement, will also give you visible proof of what you can accomplish.

Note that the researchers talk about the importance of a “resilient” personality. This means you, emotionally, have the ability to quickly recover from hardship.

If you do fail to reach a goal or perform as well as you had hoped in an event, the way that you handle that disappointment can also have a big impact on your future growth. Instead of thinking about how that negative experience proves that you can’t do something, focus on the frustration you felt and use it as a motivator to improve.

Have you experienced the benefits of keeping a positive viewpoint? Please share your experience in the comments.




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About jonathan.thompson

Jonathan Thompson is a Certified Personal Trainer and Running Coach with the American Council on Exercise, specializing in nutrition. In addition to his real-world experience working with clients, his articles and blogs on fitness advice have been published on many websites and magazines.