Building Resilience: How Exercise Fosters Mental Fortitude

Mental resilience, or psychological resilience, is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or return to pre-crisis status quickly. It’s our capacity to bounce back from stressors and difficulties, adapting and learning in the process.

But how does physical training play into mental resilience?

A review in the Journal of Clinical Psychology highlighted that physical exercise can enhance our resilience to stress. When we exercise, our bodies experience a form of stress. As we push through a tough workout or reach a new personal record, we’re teaching ourselves to endure, adapt, and overcome challenging situations. Over time, this ability can translate to our ability to handle life’s stressors as well.

Moreover, exercise provides a sense of accomplishment, improves self-esteem, and offers a natural mood lift – all contributing to an enhanced sense of mental well-being.

Here’s how to weave resilience-building into your exercise routines:

1. Set Goals and Push Your Limits: Whether it’s running a 10K, mastering a complex yoga pose, or lifting a certain weight, having goals provides a challenge to overcome, building resilience over time.

2. Incorporate Mind-Body Exercises: Practices like yoga, Tai Chi, or mindfulness-based stretching can help you cultivate a calm and focused mind amid physical exertion.

3. Try New Activities: Trying a new sport or workout can take you out of your comfort zone, boosting mental resilience as you adapt and learn.

**Note:** As always, consult with a healthcare or fitness professional before starting any new exercise routine to ensure it aligns with your current health condition and fitness level.

Stay curious, stay consistent, and keep moving!


1. Childs, E., de Wit, H. (2014). Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Front Physiol., 5:161.

2. Stubbs, B., Vancampfort, D., Rosenbaum, S., Firth, J., Cosco, T., Veronese, N., Salum, G.A., Schuch, F.B. (2017). An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res., 249:102-108.