HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

2020 may be a challenging year on many fronts, personally, politically, environmentally, financially, etc. Let’s make the most of it by trying to understand the truth in every situation.  Remember there is only one “Truth”.

USING VISUALIZATION TO DEVELOP MENTAL TOUGHNESS

Modified from Fitness Handout, IDEA Fitness Journal Nov 2017

The following article was meant for sports and fitness performance enhancement; however, much of it also applies to many of life’s challenges.  I have modified the article to go beyond sports and fitness.

All of us instinctively use visualization (aka imagery) to help us perform better and plan our actions. Have you ever mentally practiced your own performance before physically executing it? Perhaps you’ve mentally rehearsed the exhilaration or relief you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished an act that you wanted to do. If you learn how to use the strategy of visualization, you can develop mental toughness for success in sport, fitness and many of life’s challenges.

Imagery is a form of simulation training that can be used to learn new skills, plan performance strategies, improve technique, recover from injury, and develop mental toughness for optimal success in sport, fitness and meeting some of life’s challenges.

How Does It Work? – How can simply thinking about running a race help us accomplish it? Our minds can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined. Just think about the last time you woke up from a nightmare terrified about something that, at the time, appeared as real as could be, but obviously was not. Although you never left your bed, someone assessing your heart rate, skin conductance and other physiological measurements might easily have believed you had just returned from a run.

For sport and fitness performance, imagery creates mental blueprints of a past or upcoming performance. When repeatedly rehearsed, these blueprints are more easily transferred to external actions, maximizing performance capabilities. When life presents a challenge, imagery can create positive outcomes which may help to deal with the challenge.

SKILL MASTERY – When you mentally rehearse a performance, using all of your senses to make the event as vivid and controlled as possible, your mind can’t distinguish between really doing it and not. Imagery codes movement patterns, making specific actions more familiar and automatic. Even before you physically attempt a skill, and long after your body is done physically performing for the day.  Research has shown that imagery works to accelerate reaction times, improve coordination and accuracy, and enhance overall performance.

PAIN MANAGEMENT – One way to deal with pain is by controlling your interpretation of pain. The defeatist mindset interprets pain to mean, This sucks; I am not tough enough, and now I’ll never achieve my goal. The optimist mindset, on the other hand, interprets pain to mean, My body is talking to me to let me know I either need to adjust some aspect of my activity or dig deep for that extra motivation to power through.

To find that last bit of motivation, you can distract yourself away from the pain by mentally practicing skill mastery—for example, mastering the next mile run, mastering positive thinking in the face of adversity.   Once you know the pain is there to test your willpower, you can tune out the pain by imagining a specific, successful aspect of your performance.

Use these strategies to enhance visualization:

BE MORE THAN WHAT YOU SEE – For your mind to believe your imagery is real and for your neurotransmitters and muscle fibers to fire off in the correct pattern, it is imperative that your imagery incorporate as many senses as possible. When you use imagery, pay attention to what you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel texturally and kinesthetically.

COMMIT TO EXCELLENCE, NOT PERFECTION – What happens if you see yourself failing during your visualization. Don’t worry! The key to peak performance lies not in avoiding thoughts of failure, but in immediately using your imagery to recover when you do mentally see a negative outcome.

EXERCISE FOR CONTROLLING HYPERTENSION

Let’s look at some high blood pressure facts from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

  • Three out of every four people over age 60 has high blood pressure
  • Many men and women don’t even know they have high blood pressure
  • High blood pressure can be controlled
  • Death rates from heart attacks and strokes in the United States have decreased by 40-60 percent over the last 30 years. That’s good news. And those who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives.

 But let’s explore how you can lower your blood pressure with some simple exercise.

In 2011, the ACSM recommended for healthy adults at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a conversation) five days per week. Or 20 minutes of more vigorous activity three days per week. Combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation.

According to the American Heart Association (AMA), with an average weight of either 150lbs or 200lbs, adults can expect to burn the following calories with the following exercises:

Walking at 3mph: 320 – 416 calories/hour

Running at 5.5mph: 660 – 962 calories/hour

Cycling at 12mph: 410 – 534 calories/hour

Swimming at 25yds/min: 275 – 358 calories/hour

Most of us find it difficult to add exercise to our already busy day . However, the physical activity required to lower blood pressure can be easily added to your day. Take every opportunity to walk, instead of ride (elevators and cars); don’t sit for long periods, use stairs when possible, take frequent breaks during the day that require walking (to the store, the restaurant, around the office).