Work on your Brain to Improve your Physical Performance

It's a reality that athletes who have good control over cognitive activities are usually better in their disciplines. Our body is a whole, and the link between mind and body can nourish both entities.
Work on your Brain to Improve your Physical Performance

Last update: 07 August, 2019

Can you improve your physical performance by training your brain? Every time we make a movement, the issuance of that order takes place in the brain. If we perform mental tasks repeatedly, and gradually increase their complexity, the body will form better neural bonds. This way, brain activity will improve, which will in turn project on to physical performance.

How the brain-body orders work

Before and after performing any movement, our brain makes millions of calculations. These calculations are linked to their ability to predict the action. Every time we repeat a sports movement, we provide our brains and memories with lots of information. By doing this, we can eventually perfect our movements.

The role of our senses (such as sight or touch) is very important for this system. Therefore, every training session, exercise, and activity increases our experience and aptitudes for future repetitions of the same act.

The connection between our brains and the muscles we use to execute actions is established in the motor neurons, through a complex network of nerves. That ability to move is exactly what’s lead us to evolve and survive as a species.

Brain training to improve our physical performance

Researchers conducted a study about the tasks that professional athletes perform outside of sports. The results stated that those who possessed a greater control of cognitive activity when reading, writing, studying or developing a profession were the ones who obtained the best results in their sports modality.

Furthermore, they not only obtained a superior physical condition but also made an effort to experience positive daily emotions. This helped them to face exercise with an optimistic mindset.

A woman drinking water to improve her physical performance

In summary, we can conclude that an athlete who develops cognitive abilities along with motor skills experiences a positive transference to the performance of said activities.

Ways to train your brain

There is an endless number of activities to help us reach this goal. You can play a video game, read, write or memorize patterns in a schematic way. It’s also a good idea to develop artistic skills such as pictorial art or building objects.

We recommend that you find hobbies you can do along with your sport of choice. You’ll see the benefits for yourself when you practice it again. Of course, it’s important to avoid using new technologies to do the work for us.

For example, think about using a GPS. Your brain no longer has to memorize routes, and it doesn’t prepare to carry out the mental processes it needs for that activity. It can now rely completely on a small device. If you don’t stimulate your brain and mental processes as much as you can, they’ll eventually deteriorate.

Double tasking to improve your physical performance

Professional trainers use a double tasking system with their athletes and rehab patients. This system consists of exposing the individual to several stimuli that are not directly related to each other.

A good way to train this set of mental skills is to place the athlete in front of a computer screen in which a program shows random objects. Once this activity ends, the individual must count the objects that he could see on the monitor.

The hard part is that they must do this while performing a characteristic exercise from the sport they usually practice. It can be trying to control a ball with their feet if they’re soccer players or bouncing a ball if they’re basketball players.

This system has turned out to be ideal for improving their sports performance; that’s why many sports professionals use it nowadays. We could say that the more external stimuli our brain can monitor and either act upon or ignore, the greater our brain activity will be. Double tasking is a great way to train your brain and improve your physical performance.

Emotional management

Emotional management is essential for any person, not just for athletes. Starting an activity with motivation will help us meet 100 percent of the expectations.

On the contrary, having a reluctant attitude about it will lead to poor involvement in the activity. The emotions that happen in our brains become apparent in our daily physical performance.

Examples of a lack of emotional control

When a professional athlete gets carried away by anger and makes an aggressive entry against an opponent, it results in a negative impact.

A sad man regretting having poor emotional magement

We can extrapolate this example to the fields of recreation and health. If a person allows external stress factors to affect them, they won’t have a good performance when exercising. They may even begin to skip their workout sessions.

Variety is key to improving your physical performance

What good does a fit body do if we don’t train our brains at the same time? We can apply this same principle the other way around. Ideally, we should try to include different activities that cover all of our needs. This way, we won’t have deficiencies in the physical and mental areas.

Human physiology is grateful in this regard; improve a little aspect of it and you’ll see how other areas become reinforced as well. As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

It might interest you...
Warm Up Routines: Why are they Important Before Running?
Fit PeopleRead it in Fit People
Warm Up Routines: Why are they Important Before Running?

We can't just run without giving our muscles a chance to warm up beforehand. Discover why you should always warm up before any kind of workout.