Fuel Your Fitness With Gratitude

Gratitude can be a game changer, especially when it comes to fitness.

Studies have shown that gratitude helps you to be more resilient when life throws you a curveball.1 It helps you to remain optimistic and increases happiness as you strive to meet the goals that you set for yourself. Gratitude can improve your physical health by strengthening your immune system, lowering your blood pressure, and making you less bothered by aches and pains.2 In team sports, in addition to improving overall well-being, gratitude can increase team satisfaction and decrease athlete burnout.3

By practicing gratitude, you can change your relationship to your goals and progress. For example, gratitude allows you to change your perception from “I have to wake up and go to the gym” to “I get to wake up and go to the gym.”4 It also helps when you may not meet your goals, so instead of thinking “I only had time for half my workout. Too bad.” you might instead think “I got out there and broke a sweat, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to do so.” When you shift into a more positive perspective, you increase the positive effect of your efforts, and will find more energy and enthusiasm for your workout.

A simple way to shift into a more positive perspective is to make a gratitude list or start a gratitude journal. Follow these simple steps to get started:

  • Begin by jotting down three things that you are grateful for each day.
  • Try to avoid repetition.
  • You can focus on specific areas of your life, such as the things you use everyday, or your basic abilities, skills and talents. You can also think about the people in your life, and your experiences.
  • Take note of why these things are important to you and how they make you feel.

Here is a sample of what your first gratitude list may look like. As time goes on, this list may get longer and more descriptive as you focus more attention on what you are grateful for.

Today I am grateful for…

  1. Clean water. It keeps me hydrated and healthy.
  2. Cold Weather. The cool air energized my run.
  3. Friends. They are like family and keep me smiling.

Gratitude can be even more powerful when you take the time to recognize and appreciate the people who support you in reaching your goals. For example, if you managed to run three miles with the support of a running partner, actually thanking them reinforces the collaborative aspect of achieving your goal, which can be motivational and create an additional sense of accountability. Next time you achieve a fitness milestone, however small, try taking a moment to appreciate the contributing circumstances, and actually thank anyone who helped make it happen.

Another way to develop gratitude is by practicing a gratitude meditation. Try this five-minute gratitude meditation by Stop, Breathe & Think or download the app to discover other activities to help you slow down and appreciate life, and your workout.

  1. Todd B. Kashdan, Gitendra Uswatte, and Terri Julian. Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam war veterans. 2005.
  2. Sonja Lyubomirsky and Kristin Layous. How Do Simple Positive Activities Increase Well-Being? University of California Riverside, 2013.
  3. Gratitude and Adolescent Athletes’ Well-Being, Chen, L.H. & Kee, Y.H., Social Indicators Research. 2008.
  4. Benefits of Expressing Gratitude: Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Changes One’s View of the Relationship, Lambert, N.M., Clark, M.S., Durtschi, J., Fincham F.D., Graham S.M, Psychological Science. 2010.