How Positive Thinking During Exercise Can Boost Your Results

Fitness Tips

How Positive Thinking During Exercise Can Boost Your Results

You've probably already heard the message about self-talk: think positive!

You may have even read the book: The Power of Positive Thinking. You probably agree that positive self-talk sounds simple, as it's easy to understand, but what you might not know is how hard it is to implement.

The scientific community has found real correlations between the power of positive thinking and its effect on psychological wellness. Recent research has found even more benefits between positive self-messaging and exercise -- namely, not only does positive messaging push your brain to go the extra mile, but it can also boost your awareness and assessment of your progress during physical exercise.

A heightened and accurate awareness of your physiological state while in motion paired with positive self-talk just might be the key to breaking through to your fitness goals, not to mention a happier and more optimistic you.

Woman working out


The Mindful Minute

Negative comparisons, harsh words, and reductive thinking are common occurrences among your daily stream of self-talk and thinking.

The goal here is to begin to notice if there are patterns or themes around the negative self-messages that you've unwittingly been sending yourself. By just bringing conscious attention to these negative thought patterns, your mind begins to change them. For the purposes of boosting your positive self-talk while exercising, you may want to use your first workout as an experiment.

Don't focus on implementing the positive self-talk phrases listed below just yet. Instead, set your watch or reminder app at a specific interval (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc). When the notification sounds, take that moment to check-in with your stream of self-talk.

Take a minute and scan through your thoughts. What are the common themes? Do you find yourself ruminating on your day at work, school or home? Are you comparing yourself to fellow exercisers as you work out? As your brain starts to register physical fatigue, what messages are you sending yourself? "Keep going!" "You can do it!" Or do the messages sound more like: "Don't fail!" "Don't wimp out at the last mile like last time!"

Implementing the Power of Positive Thinking

Now that you've experienced some mindful minutes during your exercise routine to take stock of your current self-talk habits, you're ready to move to the next step.

Before your next workout, select 2 to 3 of the phrases below. Set your watch, reminder app or some other notification alarm of your choosing for your desired interval. Each time your alarm sounds, think to yourself one of the positive self-talk phrases that you selected. You may want to customize your selection based on the length of your activity.


  • "I've got an extra 10 minutes in my legs today!"
  • "I am strong and powerful, and I can conquer this workout."
  • "Be your best today, and you'll beat your competitors tomorrow."
  • "With every minute that passes, I'm becoming a better athlete."

Sprints or 20-30 minute exercise routines

  • "I'm zooming past my best time from last week!"
  • "I feel alive and alert."
  • "I am my best athletic self today."
  • "Pain is only temporary; the benefits of this workout will last forever!"

Cool Down Mix

  • "I am a better athlete for having worked out today."
  • "I feel good about this accomplishment."
  • "I earned this cool down because I rocked my workout."
  • "I can't believe how hard I worked today. Just think of where I'll be tomorrow!"

Ready, set, GO!

Research indicates that it's the consistency of this type of positive self-messaging that does the trick.

A boost of positive thinking when you're running that last half-mile or busting through your last set of burpees helps you finish your workout with a bang, but it's the consistent implementation of positive self-talk that improves your results over time. By increasing your positive emotions and energy, you convince your brain's fatigue reflex that yes, you can go just a little bit longer.