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Grounded in Gratitude: How to Include Thankfulness in Your Fitness Program

The Mind & Body Benefits of Exercise at the Best Gyms in Baltimore

In today’s fast-paced, intensely competitive society, it is easy to get caught up in dwelling on the things you do not have. From bottomless budgets to dream jobs, many things feel unattainable. Yet, the reality is that you likely have much to be thankful for in your day-to-day life. The perfect way to check in and give thanks is to adopt a gratitude-forward fitness program.

Here’s a closer look at why working out and thankfulness are a meaningful match, along with how you can get in on all of the amazing advantages of having an “attitude of gratitude.”

Fitness program
Even kids can get in on the benefits of being more grateful.

Exercise and Anxiety

This blog often talks about the good exercise does for the body. Indeed, the benefits are profound. From weight control to enhanced cardiovascular strength, there are abundant reasons to hit the gym, take a stroll outside, or go for a swim.

However, working out is also linked with alleviating depression and anxiety. Specifically, the Mayo Clinic cites two ways exercise eases mental health conditions, including releasing “feel-good” brain chemicals that boost your sense of well-being and stopping the cycle of negative thoughts by taking your mind off your worries.

Additional psychological and emotional benefits associated with regular exercise include: increased confidence, more opportunities for social interactions, and healthier coping mechanisms. (Already sold on the exercise imperative? Take a look at our lineup to find a class.)

The Greatness of Gratitude

Introduce gratitude to the equation and the benefits of exercise soar even higher. In fact, research shows that people who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” reap many advantages, including enhanced physical and emotional health, better relationships, and stronger communities.

Says the University of California, Davis professor Dr. Robert Emmons:

“Without gratitude, life can be lonely depressing and impoverished. Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires, and transforms. People are moved, open, and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”

Echoes Harvard Medical School:

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Despite all of the good things connected with gratitude, it can be a hard attitude to cultivate. As a “chosen attitude,” says Emmons, we must be willing to embrace it.

A Powerful Pair

What is the takeaway? While bad feelings and low energy can add up to a vicious cycle of worsening mental and physical health, positive feelings and exercise can have the opposite effect.

Though any way you choose to move is good for both body and soul, experts tout the benefits of mindful meditation, in particular. Continues Harvard Medical School:

“Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as ‘peace’), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).”

Echoes Psychology Today of this life-affirming practice:

“Cultivating mindfulness is the key to overcoming suffering and recognizing natural wisdom: both our own and others’…Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are. Instead, it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment. We could say that it teaches us how to be unconditionally present; that is, it helps us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is.”

Yoga is also celebrated for its ability to spark feelings of gratitude, particularly several asanas, according to Huffington PostFrom cat/cow pose to warrior II, these yoga poses help you tune in while you tone up. Then there is savasana, AKA “corpse pose” — an opportunity to be still, present, and reflective of the many things for which you have to be grateful.

While the one day of the year dedicated to gratitude is quickly approaching, there is no reason to wait for the third Thursday in November to start harnessing the tremendous potential of gratitude.  Sign up for a trial pass at Brick Bodies today.  You will be grateful you did!