Elite sports people and fitness professionals often talk about the strong link between mind and body. Those who have built their fitness careers through social media are particularly fond of this topic. Whether you follow the high intensity bodyweight exercises of personalities like Zuzka Light, the progress of bodybuilders like Paige Hathaway, or the less conventional sporting successes of people like ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, it’s this common theme that links them all.
You can view Dean Karnazes’ sponsored video below:
To pursue any goal wholeheartedly is to have found purpose, meaning, and ultimately happiness in one’s life. This doesn’t have to be in sport, of course. Chosen careers (or even serious hobbies) are as diverse as we are as human beings. Work is so important precisely because it gives people structure. Long-term unemployment devastates an individual’s soul, and tears apart families and entire communities, like almost no other intangible factor (Machin & Manning, 1999). It also has serious health implications, further highlighting the inseparable link between mind and body.
The importance of doing what you love and loving what you do is also a constant theme in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling ‘Born To Run,’ which looks at the Tarahumara people and the psychology behind their astonishing endurance running abilities.
Of course, this is something that is both a positive feedback mechanism, and which works to a great degree in both directions. The old cliché that a health body = a healthy mind is being repeatedly borne out in the scientific literature. For many, ‘clean’ or healthy eating can make their bodies, and in turn their minds, feel good, creating a positive feedback loop for this behaviour. Cooking with coconut oil, replacing unhealthy drinks with coconut milk alternatives, or picking low sugar content organic chocolates are just some examples.
Others prefer more quantitative ways of measuring their success, through bodyfat analysis scales, blood pressure monitors or pulse oximeters. These can also be encouraging tools for those looking to lose weight, kick a bad habit, or simply make lifestyle changes following a health scare or recent diagnosis of a condition such as asthma, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis or atrial fibrillation.
Machin, S., Manning, A. (1999). The causes and consequences of longterm unemployment in Europe. Handbook of Labor Economics, Vol. 3 (C).
McDougall, C. (2015). Born To Run.