Fitness changes you in important ways. Challenging yourself to do 200 pushups each day, for example, will transform you, but not in the way you think. Many of you may imagine developing a stronger upper body with sculpted muscles and increased strength, and while you would not be incorrect, you'd be missing the most important component of physical transformation--a change in mindset.

After all, once your muscles were taken away--either by choice or circumstance--the one thing that you would still possess that could lead you to success is your mentality. Most people underestimate just how much their minds change from consistent exercise. With their eyes fixed on their goals of changing their bodies, they often fail to appreciate that changing the way they think about themselves, others, and the world is an invaluable part of personal and professional growth.

Read the list below to discover 7 valuable life lessons that everyone can learn from exercise.

1. Your mind and body are stronger and more resilient than you think.

We often underestimate our inner and outer strength until we are put in difficult circumstances. When we are forced to overcome challenges--of our own design or from life's unpredictability--it shows us how resilient we really are.

Creating competition within yourself is a great way to build the foundation of habits that you need to achieve your professional goals.

2. Intense concentration, when applied to a specific focus, facilitates growth.

There is no shortcut for hard work. Fully applying yourself will result in positive movement towards your goal, even if you're having a difficult time seeing your progress.

Remember that progress is not linear, meaning that your journey towards the ideal destination is not a straight road. There will be twists and turns, bumps and bruises, and many obstacles on your way. But no matter what happens, aligning your attention with your intention will achieve your goals.

3. Internal motivation is created from external production--not the other way around.

People often wait for motivation before initiating a task. What they end up discovering is that their motivation, much like water in the Sahara Desert, doesn't come.

Stop waiting for the magic substance of motivation to appear! Motivation is created through movement, not participation trophies. Start pushing yourself and you'll discover that the well of motivation is deep and abundant.

4. Increasing your workload gradually builds your endurance--so suspending action until you have excess energy prohibits progress.

This lesson is very similar in structure to the previous point. Many people think that they need to build their endurance before increasing their workload, when, in fact, it's the increase in workload that builds endurance.

The more that you play the waiting game, the less progress you'll make in life. You will never have more of anything than you do in this moment--stop making excuses and start making progress.

5. Even automatic patterns use valuable energy that you must replenish to maintain mental and physical health.

Over time, applying consistent effort gets a little easier than it was in the beginning. Unfortunately, even when pushing yourself to the max feels easier, you still need to find balance in your life to replenish your energy levels.

When you fail to provide yourself with enough energetic input from self-care activities, you are destined to create an imbalance by overcompensating with your mind or your body, resulting in physical or mental issues. Be aware of your energy levels and schedule down time doing things that bring you life.

6. Practicing gratitude for small victories is necessary to appreciate your ultimate achievements.

The most successful people I've worked with all swear that without appreciating the small milestones, by the time they reach their ultimate goals, it doesn't create a deep sense of happiness, fulfillment, or accomplishment. All achievements feel empty and meaningless unless you practice gratitude for the small victories and blessings that are already present in your life.

7. Your benchmarks for success and your drive to achieve goals will change, and you need to adopt a flexible mentality to sustain maximum growth.

People that become stuck in their ways not only have difficult times continuing to make professional progress, they often struggle with emotional wellbeing. When the market changes, the most successful businesses find a way to adapt. It's not just survival--it's a natural intelligence that occurs in nature.

If you put a potato in a dark cabinet and leave it there for a long time, it will grow leaves that reach for any small spec of light. Like the potato, you need to adapt to environment. When you change your goals or when your motivation plummets, you need to find a middle ground between pushing yourself and pulling back.

Some days, you need to push through the pain. Other days, you need to relax and use your time in a different way that still adds value to your life. The mentality displayed by walking that fine line between self-compassion and willpower is necessary for physical fitness and a key insight for professional growth.

Published on: Jun 8, 2017