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  • Marnie Suss

how physical exercise improves decision making

Updated: Feb 26


Explore how physical exercise can enhance and improve decision making skills. Reflect on key decision making practices such as discipline, patience, focus, and maintaining composure can strengthen decision-making abilities, particularly in times of crisis or difficult choices.

During the pandemic I was forced to take a pause from barre due to work, the shutdown, and other life events. During that I time, I felt the absence of what barre had brought to my life and what I became to rely on for physical and mental strength. Little did I know that beyond the graceful pliés and elegant poses, barre was also integral to my decision making.

Here are five ways physical exercise improves my decision making:

1. Consistency creates discipline.

Woman wearing white leggings and white top stands with arms above head for a stretch.

Barre reminds me discipline is everything. When I’m consistent, it becomes easier to move through uncertainty and challenges. Barre reminds me if I decide to be consistent, I can reach a new depth or straighter, higher leg lift.

I’ve learned that real discipline is created when there is no reward, no goal, but just the love of the practice.

Self-discipline is a decision, one that we make everyday.

2. Patience builds flexibility.

Flexibility - physical and mental - requires practice. Barre is flexibility training in its purest form. It gently trains the body with deliberate stretches, promoting flexibility over time.

Decision making also requires practice, especially when our decision making needs to be flexible and agile. Navigating uncertainty in life and careers pushes us to stretch our decision making abilities.

3. Strength is mental.

Barre taught me that strength isn't solely about lifting heavy weights; it's also a mental game. Holding a challenging position for an extended period requires mental fortitude. As my muscles would shake and burn, I learned to push past the discomfort. This mental resilience transcended the studio, empowering me to make difficult decisions in work and life.

Decisions can be difficult, tough, and messy. Sometimes they make us shake, but it doesn't mean it's not a good decision or the right one. It just means some decisions are uncomfortable but we can breathe through them.

4. Small decisions create big progress.

Barre is known for its subtle, controlled movements that target specific muscle groups. These micro-movements, though they may seem inconsequential, cumulatively lead to strong, flexible muscles.

This taught me that grand achievements are often the result of small, consistent, deliberate decisions and actions.

Making the next pulse or movement the best one, and then the next one, and the next creates progress. This approach is key to navigating uncertainty to achieving goals.

Black and white photo of a woman doing a split stretch.

5. Breathing is a superpower

In the intensity of a barre workout, breathing both simultaneously fuels the body and also intensifies the workout by recruiting the core muscles. Focusing on controlled breathing not only improved my performance but also reminded me of the power of the mind-body connection.

The ability to control my breath during exercise is one of the most valuable tools in decision making. The ability slow and calm the mind to make thoughtful decisions is a superpower in a world that is often reactionary and driven by emotions.

Barre has become more than just a physical workout. It has strengthen my decision making abilities in a crisis as well as train me to be disciplined and focused on my goals.



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