Five mental benefits of cycling

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Like many fitness-based hobbies and endeavors, cycling can provide a fair amount of both physical benefits, ranging from improved cardiovascular health to increases in leg muscle. However, cycling also holds a lot of potential in terms of its mental benefits. These benefits range from mood enhancements to a spike in general sharpness during the day.

Here are a few of the biggest mental benefits of cycling.

 

Better memory

We all forget now and then, but a cycling lifestyle can keep you above average in terms of remembrance. Cycling, and most aerobic exercise in general, acts as a natural stimulant for the brain, increasing blood flow and supplying oxygen and nutrients. A quick bike ride may be exactly what you need to clear your mind and bring forgotten matters back into the foreground.

 

Better self-confidence

The feeling of accomplishment attached to most sports and fitness hobbies is reason enough to get up off the couch. Cycling, however, holds a unique strand of this positive emotion; it provides the rare chance to push yourself to your aerobic threshold for miles on end, reflecting on the journey later on. This process can maximize your confidence — if anything, take pride in the fact that you are doing something not many other people do, on average.

 

Better all-around mood

Perhaps the most important mental benefit of cycling is that it can positively influence your mood. A little exercise on a regular basis can go a long way in terms of keeping you generally happy and, as mentioned in the previous section, confident in yourself as a physically fit human being. Aerobic exercise has also been linked to improvements in anxiety and depression, making it a powerful natural remedy for potentially crippling mood swings.

 

Better challenge management

Cycling is not always intended to be a highly painful, grueling affair, but it can greatly increase your threshold for pain and physical challenge in general — regardless of the intensity at which you ride. Building physical endurance can translate well into mental endurance by fostering an ability to compartmentalize a pressing or tiring situation (for example, you may take a long ride a mile at a time rather than focusing on the entire intended distance from the start). Building this type of mental muscle memory is a great practice for improving your overall quality of life.

 

Better connectivity

Research has shown that continued practice of the same motor skill can improve connectivity within the brain’s various regions, and what is cycling but a continuous motion over an extended period of time? By pedaling on a regular basis, you can increase the amount of your brain’s white matter, or the parts of the brain that facilitate smooth communication between regions — this will keep you thinking smoothly and clearly.

More Great Movies For Fitness Motivation

Have you finished watching the movies from my previous post? Good! I’ve got another round of movies you can watch to get motivated for the gym, the road, or wherever you hope to crush it next.  Here they are:

 

300

Based on the graphic novel by the famed Frank Miller, which tells the story of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, what 300 lacks in historical accuracy it more than makes up for with action and striking visuals. In the film, 300 Spartan warriors hold off a massive Persian army made up of both humans and ferocious monsters that outnumbers them 1,000 to one.  To get in shape for the movie, the actors took part in a grueling 10-week exercise regimen headed by fitness guru and world-class mountain climber Mark Twight.  Just knowing that, and watching the non-stop action in the film, is enough to get you pumped up too.  

 

Enter the Dragon

More than 40 years after his untimely death, Bruce Lee remains one of the greatest martial artists of all time.  He was so fast that filmmakers needed to slow down the camera to catch his moves.  Yet as iconic as he is, Bruce Lee starred in a relatively small number of films.  But his best, and indeed considered one of the greatest martial arts films of all time, was, “Enter the Dragon”.  It’s an action-packed movie about a Shaolin martial artist who infiltrates a competition hosted by a dangerous crime lord.  “Enter the Dragon” is filled to the brim with exciting martial arts displays that would make anybody want to attempt a roundhouse kick.  

 

Dodgeball

Billing itself as a “true underdog story”, Dodgeball tells the story of a gym made up of lovable everymen, “Average Joe’s Gym”, who enters a dodgeball competition to earn enough money to ensure that their gym doesn’t get bought out and destroyed by their evil competitor, “Globo Gym”.  It’s a movie with plenty of laughs, and Ben Stiller’s performance as Globo Gym owner White Goodman is arguably one of his finest moments.  But beneath the slapstick humor and endlessly quotable one-liners is a story of teamwork, fitness, and winning a competition against all odds, offering plenty of fitness motivation.  

 

Heavyweights

Before he got the part in Dodgeball, Ben Stiller perfected his “fitness enthusiast villain” character in the 1995 Disney film “Heavyweights”.  One of Judd Apatow’s first films, it takes place at a weight loss camp, run by a sadistic fitness nut played by Ben Stiller whose cartoonishly intense fitness regimens simply make the campers miserable instead of helping them lose weight.  It’s a pretty goofy film overall, but it also imparts an important fitness lesson: that an over-the-top intense fitness regimen isn’t sustainable.  

Three ways to bring yourself out of a fitness lull

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There is an old adage that is commonly applied to the process of getting and staying in shape: “the best way to get in shape is to never fall out of it.”

This observation is simple enough, but as any seasoned fitness addict can likely attest, it can be a hard one to constantly apply to your daily workout routine. Every fitness-based schedule, whether it is rooted in weight training, cycling, running, or yoga, is bound to come with its lulls, or periods of time where you feel drained, out of it, or less motivated. These moments are natural, but they can be daunting depending on their severity.

If you are currently stuck in a fitness lull, here are a few quick tips to bring yourself out of it.

 

Shorten your workout

There are many potential contributing factors to a fitness lull, but one of the biggest culprits is overtraining. If you are a runner or a cyclist, for instance, you may have added too many miles too quickly and are now paying for it as your aerobic endurance fights to catch up. In situations like this, a great remedy is to simply shorten your workouts for a few days (or even a few weeks, depending on your exhaustion levels). Cut back a few miles, a few reps, or a few minutes, or simply take a day or two off completely. Then, slowly add intensity and duration to naturally and healthily get back to where you had been prior to your lull. In most cases, you should return to form feeling refreshed.

 

Change your scenery

Whatever your fitness endeavor may be, there is an accompanying environment in which you likely pursue it on a regular basis (weight lifting in a specific gym, doing yoga or cross training in a specific room of the house). If you find yourself lagging with the same old routine in the same old location, revamp the latter by completing your workout with different scenery. This approach is almost entirely mental, but it can potentially perk you up and give your workout a new appeal. You will be surprised how much difference a slight change in surroundings will make.

 

Find a partner

The benefits of a workout partner are almost too obvious to list, yet many people still prefer to do all their workouts alone. Though there is nothing wrong with an occasional solo effort, a partner-based workout system is scientifically proven to jumpstart your motivation. Your partner will be completing the same physical challenges as you, and this comradery alone is motivating as the two of you push each other to the same endpoint. Furthermore, keeping a steady conversation can be asset to making otherwise tedious runs and rides pass by quickly.

The best movies for fitness motivation

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Movies are appealing for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons we continually absorb them is the chance to live vicariously through their characters. Nearly all movie characters endure challenges that are reflective of our own lives in one way or another, and this connection can be incredibly motivating in the right context.

This notion is especially true of sports and fitness films, many of which feature protagonists attempting to improve their athletic skills, win a crucial competition, or simply find their place in not only their sport of choice, but the culture encapsulating that sport.

Here are a few of the best films for fitness motivation.

 

Rocky

Often regarded as one of the most uplifting and motivational sports films of all time, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky consistently produces a powerful vicarious effect over viewers. Something about Rocky Balboa’s against-all-odds situation is potent and moving, especially when paired with the brutal chapters of his training to fight heavyweight champion Apollo Creed.

At its core, Rocky is a typical David and Goliath tale, but with enough memorable characters and doses of reality to keep it fresh, it is able to remain one of the most resonant films of all time (and if those factors don’t pull you in, the film’s score will).

 

Remember the Titans

The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Remember the Titans focuses on the true story of African-American football coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington), who helped to bring racial unity to the T.C. Williams High School football team. Though the film is occasionally criticized for following an all too familiar sports film plot, it ultimately succeeds in providing an uplifting message that intertwines themes of tolerance and hard work.

 

Warrior

Warrior exhibits many of the same emotional drawing points as similar films before it (namely Rocky), but it is able to rise above cliche with a series of strong performances and a plot that is full of heart. The fim stars Tom Holland and Joel Edgerton as “two estranged brothers whose entrance into a mixed martial arts tournament makes them come to terms with their lives and each other.” The film is able to remain motivational due to its effective blending of familial turmoil and athletic drama.

 

Miracle

Miracle tells the true story of the 1980 United States men’s hockey team, which stunned the world when it defeated the heavily favored Soviet team to win gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics (aka the “Miracle on Ice”). The film is yet another classic underdog story told in a relatable and inspirational manner.

Kurt Russell’s “again” scene alone is chilling enough to inspire fresh training motivation.

Reasons Why You Should Make CrossFit Part of your Summer Routine

 

Crossfit: Many Benefits

Summer is great way to get back into shape or to discover a new workout routine. For years, I’ve explored various fitness approaches in the quest to achieve an optimal level of health. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed a love for Crossfit. This high intensity routine has surged in popularity over the last decade and owes its success to the effectiveness and collaborative nature of its design. Interested in learning more about CrossFit? Why not try this extremely fun and effective fitness program out this summer!

 

You’ll get into Amazing Shape

Check out any photo of a crossfit gym and my point will be illustrated perfectly. Crossfit is a phenomenal way to get into amazing shape, super fast. You’ll learn to push your body and fight through the pain. You’ll continue through it because you’ll be surrounded by fellow success stories.

 

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It’s All About Community

One of the best things about the Crossfit craze is the strong community that accompanies the workout. You’ll never be in the gym lifting weights alone. You’ll be scarce to find a fellow crossfitter who won’t jump in and model a new move. This can be extremely beneficial to new crossfitters as they learn and adapt to the movements.

 

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You’re Life Will Improve

Yes, you’ll be in better shape. Yes, you’re heart and your joints will be healthier. But you’ll also notice improvements in other areas of your life. To start, you’ll notice a huge mood in your mood. Constant exercise performed alongside your active community will do wonders for your mental health. You’ll laugh more. You’ll sweat more. You’ll release a ton of endorphins. Who wouldn’t want to achieve a lifestyle that gets you in shape and manages your mental health as well?

 

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It’s Fun

There’s something electric about the sport that motivates and excites even the most timid fitness enthusiast. Why is the sport so fun? Many of the movements hark back to your childhood days; playing on the playground. It’s a wild form of freedom. And an outlet that many adults don’t get to explore nearly enough. Exercise should be fun. The most successful athletes can manage their health and keep up with their routines because of this aspect. The secret to crossfit is the varied workout movements. You’ll never get stuck cycling for an hour or repeating the same three circuits. Crossfit is all about varying the movements to target different parts of your body in fast and intense interval cycles.

 

Crossfit continues to make its way into every town and city in America. It continues to cultivate new communities of crossfitters; individuals who notice a tremendous improvement in their physical and mental health. What about you? Will crossfit change your life this summer?

 

Not sure you’re ready to try it out a gym or Crossfit studio? Check out my previous post, where I outline one of my favorite workouts. A few of these movements are crossfit standards!

 

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