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Getting in the Zone: Discovering the Intrinsic Benefits of Physical Activity

By Katie Jeffrey

Female ClimberHave you ever heard athletes talk about “getting in the zone” when participating in their favorite activity—or have you experienced it yourself? What does that mean?

Being “in the zone” or “in a state of flow” is the state of complete absorption in an activity, resulting in full engagement and intense concentration. The activity is intrinsically rewarding; in other words, you experience the benefits from the inside-out. These types of activities produce highly efficient brain activity so time seems to fall away and you lose your sense of self-consciousness. It is incredibly energizing and a powerful way to recharge your psychological batteries.

Intrinsic Benefits of Physical Activity

What other intrinsic benefits do you get from exercise? Examples may include increased energy, feelings of joy and contentment when engaging in the activity, reduced stress, less irritability, increased self-esteem, and positive body image.

Is there a physical activity that produces these feelings for you? It could be running, cycling, yoga, hiking, rock climbing, and so on—the possibilities are endless! If you haven’t yet found an activity that brings this type of enjoyment, keep looking. Think outside the box such as dancing, chopping wood, or gardening.

Finding an activity (or better yet, activities) that create a state of flow is key to maintaining an intrinsically rewarding, and therefore sustainably active lifestyle.

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About the author

Katie Jeffrey, MS, RDN, CSSD Katie Jeffrey, MS, RDN, CSSD, is an athlete who is passionate about mindful eating and living. She is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and co-author of the upcoming book, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Athletes: A Mindful Eating Program for Sports and Life” with Michelle May, M.D. Katie is also a speaker and a licensed Facilitator of the Am I Hungry? ® mindful eating program. She is the founder and CEO of FitNutrition, LLC which provides individual nutrition counseling, sports performance nutrition counseling, nutrition consulting and dynamic scientifically-based nutrition presentations on various topics for all age groups. Katie works with individuals to optimize their health by examining all aspects of their life as it relates to food and eating behaviors. As a specialist in sports nutrition, she is passionate about working with athletes to enhance their athletic performance.

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