Lately, I’ve noticed that my workouts are giving me a sense of purpose, not just keeping me fit and being a part of my job. The exercises I do for myself are giving me a structure and meaning that has been very important to carrying me through a lot of the challenges of the last year and a half.
A Sense of Purpose is Incredible Workout Motivation, Too!
While my workouts give me a sense of purpose, that feeling also provides me with more motivation to complete each new set of exercises every day. I’d always been aware of this to some degree, but I recently read about a longitudinal study in the April 2021 Journal of Behavioral Medicine that researched and described the relationship between the two.
The study talked about how being physically active – through workouts or other forms of regular physical motion – can make you feel that your life has meaning. I understood that as soon as I read it. Yes. When I keep up my workouts on a regular basis, I have a solid sense of purpose and just feel better overall.
What Was in the Study?
The study involved the participation of over 18,000 middle-aged or older men and women. I’m not in that age group yet, but I can’t see why the outcomes wouldn’t impact every age group. What it found was that people who have more of a solid sense of purpose and meaning in their lives are also those who are likely to be active or to become increasingly active over time. Equally, they found that the people who were most likely to become increasingly active were also the ones who reported having the strongest sense of living meaningful lives.
To me, the message couldn’t be clearer. There is a relationship between psychological wellbeing and regular physical activity.
Of course, this isn’t a new discovery. It’s just a new angle to what has already been discovered and confirmed time and time again. There is a ton of science out there to support the concept that being physically active doesn’t just strengthen our physical body and health, but also our mental health and wellness. Men and women of all ages who are active fare better than those who aren’t when it comes to depression and anxiety. It’s why one of the top recommendations therapists give to patients suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and even obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) is to get moving if they are living a relatively sedentary lifestyle.
Get a Sense of Purpose by Getting Up!
I’m not going to pretend like I’m some kind of mental health expert. I’m not. I’m a personal trainer. I go through my own mental health challenges now and again, which I’ve talked about in past blog posts. But I do know that from personal experience, keeping up a great level of physical activity has been very helpful to me. When I’m less active, I have less of a sense of purpose and find it easier to feel down.
My clients have often said the same thing to me. It’s especially obvious for people who are new to regular exercise. At first, there’s some intimidation, but suddenly they start looking forward to it. They like how driven, empowered and filled with purpose they are. They give themselves meaning and ride that wave of positive exercise-induced neurotransmitters while they’re at it.