Is a Strong Mind or Body More Important for Your Health?

·2-min read

Does your outlook dictate your health or is what we do with our body – the way we move and exercise – more important? We trawled through the science to find out.

The Numbers


78% – The proportion of studies in a peer review that linked high levels of mental toughness to sporting achievement.


31% – Studies into athletic performance suggest genetic factors underlie a significant percentage of our physical differences.

Close to Heart


A Harvard study of 103,486 people found that those with a glass-half-full disposition had a 22% lower chance of high blood pressure. Look on the bright side.


An American Journal Of Hypertension study found 60 to 90 minutes of cardio per week reduced hypertension in sedentary people, after which the benefits levelled out.

Force of Will


It’s been theorised that supplying extra glucose to the brain can ‘restock’ willpower levels. But a PNAS study found this only works if you believe that it does.


On the other hand, an animal study in the PLOS One journal found that a diet high in junk foods may cause a rise in impulsive decision-making.

The Big Benefits


Focusing the mind:

  • Reduces anxiety

  • Lowers heart rate

  • Improves sleep

  • Controls pain


Moving the body:

  • Boosts heart health

  • Burns calories

  • Improves mobility

  • Reduces liver fat

Muscle Memory


80% – Around four in five people were able to improve muscle activation during workouts with positive self-talk, in one Italian study.


33 – But the gym builds your mind, too. A review of 33 clinical trials in the journal AMA Psychiatry found that weight training curbs depressive symptoms.

Food for Thought


A study in the journal Current Addiction Reports found that a regular mindfulness practice ‘reduces subjective cravings... and unhealthy eating’.


A diet rich in fruit and vegetables was linked with a happier outlook by a study in the International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health.

The MH Verdict: Body Wins!

While the power of mind over matter is clearly scientifically valid, you can’t out-think
poor lifestyle habits. Develop a healthy routine first: good nutrition, daily movement,
fresh air – and a brighter outlook is more likely to follow.

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