How an athlete’s mindset can help you move more
Man and woman jogging outside

This article is part of a series in collaboration with ParticipACTION. Discover how "Everything gets better when you get active!"


You don’t need to train like an athlete to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle, but regular physical activity is a key component of overall health and well-being. Adults should aim to get about 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week to support their health. Those of us that struggle to meet those recommendations, however, may benefit from taking a page or two out of the athlete’s playbook. Athletes develop a vast range of mental and psychological habits and characteristics that help them perform daily, and those habits and states of mind can be beneficial to everyone that aims to achieve a goal.

Whether you’re trying to get active again after injury, or if you’re just looking for some tips and tricks to help you get up and out the door each morning, here are a few ways you can adopt an athlete’s mindset and improve your physical health and overall well-being.

Be humble

Before you run, you’ve got to walk. Before you ace that 10KM, you’ve got to make it around the block before stopping to catch your breath. Don’t beat yourself up for not being an instant track star after a sedentary period. Instead, be clear-eyed about where you are in your present state. Dig into where you’re at and respect the process of your own personal development. 

Set a goal

Athletes don’t just know where they are, they know where they are going. Now that you know where you’re starting from, set an appropriate goal that will keep you motivated along the way. Maybe it’s as simple as working up to 45 minutes of walking a day, or maybe it’s completing your first kilometre-long jog. It could even be that you want to rack up 20-30 minutes of physical activity each day for a week-long streak. The point is to establish goals and benchmarks that you can strive toward and that will help you see your progress along the way.

Visualize yourself doing the activity

Athletes form a highly developed mind-body connection that can make engaging in daily activity a no-brainer. Start to tune into your mind-body connection by visualizing yourself performing physical activity. Before going to bed, imagine yourself getting up, getting dressed and getting outside for a brisk walk or bout of strength training.

Commit to regular movement

Athletes move their bodies regularly as part of their weekly schedule. Take a good look at your weekly schedule: what days and times work best for you to squeeze in physical activity? Once you’ve figured it out, block the time off and try and make it official “you” time. Don’t imagine you need an hour, either – if you’ve only got 20 minutes at lunch, that’s great. Adults need a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily to support a healthy lifestyle.

Look for support

Athletes usually have the support of a coach or teammate to keep them accountable and engaged. Look around you and see where you can create a similar supportive buddy system. Group activities are a great way to find those kinds of supports, but you can also lean on a family member or friend. Partner up with a pal and you both increase your chances of attaining your goals. Not ready to partner up? Look to technology. Download the ParticipACTION app and track your activity each day as a way of keeping yourself accountable.

Plan ahead

It’s more likely that you’ll engage in physical activity if you plan to do it. Prep your gym bag or lay out your workout clothes before you hit the hay at night, or create an Active-On-the-Go kit that you can stash in your car, backpack or in a drawer on your desk. The more you do to make being active easier and accessible, the more often you’ll be active.

Love the activity you do

If it feels bad and you don’t like it, chances are you won’t do it very often. Make sure that the physical activity you choose to do is one you want to do – better yet, make it one you genuinely enjoy. Don’t like walking or jogging? Try yoga or softball. Pick up a golf club or take a free online dance class. Part of your journey may be discovering the activities you enjoy doing. Fun is the key ingredient in your recipe for success. 

Don’t forget to rest

Athletes work hard, but they also understand the value of rest and repair days, too. Put a premium on getting sufficient rest at night. Adults should get between seven and nine hours of good sleep every night. Catch those ZZZs and you’ll find you get the energy you need to get out and get moving.


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