The Physical Intelligence Institute conducted a survey of 100 professionals from all walks of life to find out how they used their Physical Intelligence to be more resilient. Seventy-seven per cent of people said they had no resources for dealing with additional pressure at home or at work.

In other words, they lacked resilience.

Resilience is our ability to bounce back quickly from adversity – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to adapt to change and to grow and learn while doing so. Practising resilience techniques in times of less pressure is important so that we have resources available when pressure increases. These resources for resilience are drawn from three types of fitness: physical, emotional and mental.

We’ll address the relationship between physical fitness and resilience here.

Extensive research supports the view that exercise is a cure for depression and responsible for improved cognitive function and health. Studies from Japan in 2014, for example, show that thirty minutes of mild daily exercise significantly improves executive function, decision- making and focus.

Exercise is a significant performance-enhancer, supporting mental and emotional fitness. The same system we use to recover from physical exertion – the parasympathetic nervous system – is used to recover from mental and emotional pressure. If this recovery system is sluggish, then life’s setbacks hit us much harder.

Regular exercise is key to building resilience, rebalancing cortisol, boosting serotonin and releasing mood enhancing endorphins.

To build resilience, we need to get the heart rate up and down through physical activity at least three times a day, forcing the recovery system into action. Even small changes in your routine will help you build and maintain resilience even at busy times. For example:

  • Climb stairs to your office.
  • Run with the dog.
  • Get your bicycle out – for local trips, leave the car behind. A quick bike ride is a fantastic opportunity for a short burst of exercise.
  • Use your journey to work to walk briskly, jog or cycle and enjoy open spaces. For example, power walk to or from the station.
  • Intense interval training for fitness is the best, quickest and most effective way to build resilience.
  • Gardening, cleaning, carrying the shopping in from the car and all manual jobs are a chance to get your heart rate up – you can apply the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) principle to such work if you wish.
  • Always stretch after exercising.
  • Use massage for recovery to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.


Enjoy building your resilience and get ready for an increase in capacity over the next months and years. Think of it as a lifelong project.

Remember: you can influence your health (mental, emotional and physical) and your immune system; so, where your health is concerned, think about your vulnerable points and give yourself a goal, e.g. to make it through the next winter without a cold or to maintain a positive mindset after the next disappointment.

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