Athleticism affects on your body & mind.
Physical affects of exercise
When we exercise, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to our tissues and helps cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Your heart becomes stronger due to exercise, because it beats faster and pumps more blood to the muscles you use. As you exercise regularly, more capillaries (blood vessels that transport blood, nutrients and oxygen around your body) grow in the muscles you've been working, one reason why physical activities become easier over time! With regular exercise, your resting heart rate and blood pressure lowers, reducing the risk of heart and circulatory diseases. In short, by exercising, you're taking in multiple benefits including managed weight, reduced risk of diseases, strengthened bones and muscles, and more!
Mental affects of exercise
When you are active, your brain produces 'happy hormones' called endorphins. Hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These endorphins allow us to cut down feelings of stress, pain, anxiety - and improve emotional balance, feelings of motivation and overall health. Regular physical activity can even improve your memory and attention span, over time, the hippocampus (part of your brain involved in memory and learning) grows! Being athletic and focusing on your physical health has also shown to improve sleep, especially cardio activity, such as swimming, biking, running and walking. Studies have shown exercise can help to stabilise your mood and decompress your mind, allowing you to fall asleep more easily. Studies have also shown that exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep (deep sleep).
Setting athletic goals
Setting goals can help to not only improve your overall performance, but also boost your ability to handle adversity. Goals should be a challenge, but achievable ones. Pushing yourself is a great way to reach personal bests and prove to yourself what you're capable of - but you want to ensure you're allowing yourself time to rest and reflect.
Our top tips for setting and maintaining goals:
Know the purpose behind your goal.
Why are you taking part in this event? Why are you focusing on improving your athleticism? Do you want to beat your personal best? Do you want to prove your abilities to yourself? Are you raising money for a good cause? What's your end goal? Knowing the purpose behind your goal will help you reach it, you'll know where to dedicate your efforts and will continuously feel the satisfaction of getting closer to your goal before you even reach it!
Structure your training.
Recognising your strengths and weaknesses and knowing which areas to focus on will help you structure your personal training regime.
Set realistic goals and stick to them, the key to seeing and feeling improvement is will power to stick to your plan. Ensure your training plan also considers hydration, diet and nutrition - all of these factors coincide with physical ability.
Tracking and monitoring your progress is a great way to understand where you need to improve, and to gain that sense of pride when comparing past abilities to present.
Train with friends or join groups.
Training within a group or alongside friends is a fantastic way to boost moral, build confidence, and to focus on your sense of responsibility. With others involved in training, each of you are wanting to lift each other up and prove yourselves, without letting each other down.
Having people around you to cheer you on, and vice versa will build motivation so each of you can push harder for longer, help each other when times get tough, and improve the chances of sticking to your plan and reaching your goals.
Familiarise yourself with environments like those you'll be taking part in.
You want to ensure you're training within similar environments to your events. If you're training for a triathlon where the swimming portion is in open water, ensure you build your abilities in this environment whilst training.
Environments have a huge impact on your endurance and pace, if you want to track true personal bests and abilities, bare this in mind.
Focus equally on dedication and necessary rest.
Rest days are a key tool in your belt for active recovery. Allowing your body to ease in between training means you can adapt more to your previous training cycle and avoid mental or physical burn out.
During training, you should take at least one rest day a week. Don't swim, ride, run or do any other workout on this day. Allowing your body time to recover is so important for maintaining your abilities - if you continuously train without rest days, when you do eventually rest, your body is very quickly going to back-track and you'll have to work even harder to reach your past achievements.